With climate change rewiring everything from global politics to our choice of light globes, there is an emerging market for energy efficient, eco-friendly goods and services. But how are you going to capitalise on it?

Here, with the help of Tristan Edis, Policy and Research Manager at the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Grist, and the Alternative Technology Association, Crikey identifies areas which are waiting for a savvy entrepreneur to gobble up the growing demand for green-tinged businesses.

Demand management and energy efficiency service providers

According to surveys by the International Energy Agency, Australia is the most energy inefficient developed nation in the world. Businesses that can find a successful model for delivering energy efficiency and demand management improvements in the residential and commercial sector will find a ready market for their ideas. Tristan Edis at the BCSE says that, “With $22 billion being spent on electricity distribution infrastructure over the next five years … the needless energy wastage and inefficiency of current buildings and appliances has to be addressed.”

Design an electric car people will pay money for

The false logic of an 80 kilogram person driving a two-tonne car to work or the local shops is apparent to everyone. But electric cars, with engines that are vastly simpler to build, a fraction of the cost to run, and have a tiny carbon footprint just aren’t, well, cool. Yet. There is a global market waiting to be cracked. But be warned, there are plenty of backyard boffins — and multinational car companies –working on it.

Public Transport

If you own a train or bus network sell it back to government. Despite Australian governments building ever-wider roads, the way of the future is public transport, but at low cost and with greatly enhanced safety. But it is no certainty that public transport in Australia can return the sort of profits expected by the private sector. Your best chance at big, short-term profits might be to hock your rolling stock and invest in organic groceries. Long term, well, that’s another story. PPP anyone?

Hybrid taxis

It’s already happening in London, Boston, New York and LA. With a Toyota Prius cutting carbon emissions by between 30% to 50%, and the environment becoming a key factor in consumers’ buying decisions, are Australian cities ready for green cabs?

Carbon advisory services

The BCSE says: “There are businesses dabbling in providing investment advice, brokerage and management consulting regarding the implications of greenhouse constraints. But while a few individuals have established themselves, the mass market remains untapped. No business has yet made a solid claim to the space with a full service.”

Agriculture

Brad Shone, Energy Policy Manager at the Alternative Technology Association, tells Crikey: “Many of the most heavily used pesticides and fertilisers are fossil fuel derived at the moment, so there’s a very heavy greenhouse gas component to what farmers are spreading on their soil. A move to organic agriculture, or even partially organic agriculture, would have a significant impact on emissions. There are a lot of things that can be done in that field which aren’t even on the table at the moment.”

Bioenergy

You might call it the forgotten renewable energy source, overshadowed by solar, wind and geothermal. But bioenergy, produced from waste material from agriculture, could provide a controllable electricity supply in sizable quantities. In Germany in 2005 biofuels sales totaled 5.85 billion Euros and the industry employed 56,000 people. Separate forecasts from Allen Consulting Group and ABARE envisage that with deep cuts in greenhouse emissions, as much as a fifth of Australia’s electricity could be coming from bioenergy — yet there are very few businesses making a successful go of this in Australia.

How are you going to make a million from climate change? Send your ideas to [email protected]

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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