” Green technologies – going green – is bigger than the Internet. It could be the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century.”

John Doerr, Businessman

The Pros & Cons of Green Technology

upsides and downsides of green tech

Green Technology (also often referred to as environmental technology or clean technology) is an umbrella term for sustainable technologies which contribute to lower our negative environmental impact on our planet while sustaining our economic power at the same time.

Although green tech is relatively young at our current point in time, it will become quite important in the near future since we have to solve our environmental problems somehow.

In this article, the pros and cons of green technology are examined.

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Types & Application Areas of Green Technologies

  1. Energy production
  2. Waste management
  3. Green buildings
  4. Green computing
  5. Nanotechnology
  6. Smart household devices
  7. Eco-friendly vehicles
  8. Food production

Energy production

There are many different areas of application for green technologies. One of the most important branches is energy production.

Since a big fraction of our energy is still produced with the help of fossil fuels, large amounts of greenhouse gases are emitted into our atmosphere on a daily basis.

Moreover, our natural fossil resources like coal, oil and gas also become depleted over time.

Therefore, it is crucial to use green tech in order to transit from fossil to green renewable energy sources as soon as possible in order to ensure the sustainability of our energy generation in the long run.

Waste management

Another area where green tech plays an important role is waste management and recycling. In order to use our natural resources as efficiently as possible, we should try to reduce our waste production and to recycle as efficiently as possible. Only then will we be able to protect our natural resources for depletion and to ensure a livable future for the next generations.

Green buildings

The awareness regarding the importance of protecting our planet is also increasing in the construction sector. Many people now want their homes to be built out of eco-friendly materials.

Moreover, houses should also be energy-efficient in order to avoid the loss of heat so that people can save resources and money related to heating. Thus, green buildings have become quite popular and this trend will likely continue in the future.

Green computing

Since billions of people use the internet every day, the energy costs related to the IT-sector are enormous. On a global scale, we need myriads of servers in order to provide a stable internet.

Green computing aims to reduce the energy that is needed to operate those server rooms. This can include the actual operations, but also the cooling and the ventilation that are necessary for those servers to work properly.

Nanotechnology

Also in the nanotechnology sector, green tech can be used to make processes and products more energy-efficient. For example, nanotechnology is used for the construction of solar cells.

By making the production and operation processes around solar cells more efficient, they may be able to produce higher amounts of energy, which may improve our ecological footprint since we will be able to produce more energy with the same amount of resources that have to be used for those solar cells.

Smart household devices

We use many devices that use plenty of energy every day at home. Among others, these include the dishwasher, the washing machine, air conditioning or the fridge. Part of this energy can be saved through smart household devices.

For instance, smart air conditioning systems may save you plenty of energy and money in the long run since they will make your energy use much more efficient. There are many other devices that can be used in order to make your home eco-friendlier.

Eco-friendly vehicles

Since our transportation sector is one main contributor to pollution and global warming, we also have to make sure to make this sector greener.

By using environmental technologies like electric cars or scooters, we can improve our ecological footprint also in this area.

However, since most of our energy is still produced with fossil fuels, green vehicles are not as eco-friendly as you might think.

Therefore, it is also crucial to produce our energies in a green manner in order to make those electric vehicles actually green.

Food production

Also in the food production sector, green technologies may start to play a bigger role. Since people become more aware of the conditions under which animals are raised, meat producers may have to adapt to a more animal-friendly production behavior.

Moreover, large amounts of energy and water are used in factory farming. Therefore, it is crucial to introduce green systems that can lower energy and water consumption in order to protect our natural resources.

Advantages of Green Technology

  1. Energy savings
  2. Slowing down global warming
  3. Reduction of air pollution
  4. Less soil pollution
  5. Less water pollution
  6. Reduction in plastic pollution
  7. Green tech may save natural resources
  8. May allow us to feed more people on a global scale
  9. May protect the poorest among us
  10. Waste reduction
  11. Effective recycling
  12. Sustainable energy production
  13. New business opportunities
  14. May strengthen a company’s brand
  15. Tax advantages

Energy savings

There are several advantages related to green tech. One upside of environmental technologies is that they enable us to save plenty of energy.

For instance, by producing more energy-efficient products, we have to use less energy in all parts of our daily life. This is not only true for our private life, but also for the production processes across industries.

Companies use plenty of energy in their production processes. If those companies can save part of this energy, we could significantly reduce our global energy consumption.

Slowing down global warming

Since global warming is one of the biggest threats that we as humanity have to face today, everyone of us should take measures in order to slow down climate change. Green technologies can help us to do so since we can save plenty of energy through them.

Since the biggest part of our energy is still produced with fossil fuels, a reduction in energy consumption also reduces the amount of fossil fuels that have to be used.

In turn, fewer greenhouse gases are emitted into our atmosphere and global warming can be slowed down to a certain extent due to that.

Reduction of air pollution

Through the use of conventional cars, large amounts of harmful gases are emitted into our air on a daily basis. Especially at rush hours, numerous people want to commute to work or back home and the air quality is pretty bad at this time in many big cities.

Therefore, it is crucial to find proper alternatives to the use of cars that are operated by fossil fuels in order to reduce air pollution. One valid way to do so is to use green technologies like electric cars or scooters since those vehicles do not emit harmful gases into our air.

Less soil pollution

Soil pollution is another big problem that is quite prevalent in agriculture. Most often, large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides are used in conventional farming, which vastly pollutes the soil and makes it less fertile in the long run.

Therefore, it is crucial to protect the soil by using green technologies. For instance, this could mean installing devices that can make our fertilizer and pesticide use more efficient so that less of those harmful substances have to be used and the soil quality can be improved.

Less water pollution

Soil pollution is also associated with water and groundwater pollution. If the soil is polluted through agricultural processes, some pollutants will be washed through the soil into our groundwater in the long run.

Since water will become a quite scarce resource in the future due to global warming, we have to protect it whenever we can.

Therefore, by avoiding soil pollution through the use of green technologies, we could also reduce groundwater pollution to a certain extent.

Reduction in plastic pollution

We all know that plastics are quite bad for our environment and that we should avoid plastic waste whenever we can in order to improve our ecological footprint.

Therefore, green technologies might also help us with this goal. For instance, industries may be able to invent a new more eco-friendly packaging material so that we do no longer have to use plastic for this purpose anymore, which could vastly reduce our overall plastic waste and the related adverse environmental effects.

Green tech may save natural resources

In general, green technologies are meant to reduce our global use of natural resources. This is especially important when it comes to fossil resources since they are non-renewable and will become depleted sooner or later.

By switching from fossil to renewable resources for energy production, we can mitigate the resource depletion problem to a certain extent. Moreover, this is not only true for energy production, but for several other industries which use fossil resources.

Also in those other industries, it is crucial that green tech provides solutions regarding how to save natural resources in order to make our production processes more sustainable.

May allow us to feed more people on a global scale

Green technologies may also allow us to feed more people on a global scale. Since our world population is growing at an alarming rate, we will have to produce significantly more food in order to be able to feed all those people.

Thus, it is crucial to use our technological process in order to improve the efficiency of food production processes so that we can feed as many people as possible in the future.

May protect the poorest among us

Since global warming and its related adverse consequences will hit the poorest among us the most, it is our global responsibility to protect our planet whenever we can. While we in our rich Western world actually cause most of our environmental problems, people in poor developing countries in the Southern hemisphere of our planet will eventually pay the piper.

Thus, in order to protect those people who are not actually responsible for our environmental problems, we should try to use green technologies to make our production and consumption behavior as green as possible so that we can mitigate our environmental problems to a certain extent.

Waste reduction

Green technology may also enable us to use our natural resources more efficiently and to reduce waste whenever possible. This also includes using materials that are biodegradable so that less waste will end up in our oceans or in landfills.

By inventing new biodegradable materials, we could replace eco-unfriendly materials like plastic and improve our overall environmental footprint due to that.

Effective recycling

We should also try to improve our recycling processes. Green tech can also help in this regard since it may allow us to recycle a higher fraction of our waste through more effective waste separation processes.

Therefore, we would be able to recover more of our natural resources through recycling and could use our natural resources more efficiently.

Sustainable energy production

Green tech will not only enable us to save plenty of energy through energy-efficient devices, it will also enable humanity to produce energy with renewable and green resources and to avoid the use of fossil fuels in the energy production.

For this kind of energy transition, green tech plays a quite important role since we as humanity have to accomplish this energy transition process towards alternative energies quite fast in order to slow down global warming.

New business opportunities

There will be also plenty of new business opportunities around green technologies. Startups may be able to conquer this market since the established brands are still not too engaged in this field.

Yet, green tech will become a major industry in the future and new businesses that focus on this field right now might have great success in a few years.

May strengthen a company’s brand

Engaging in green tech may also benefit a company’s brand. Since people become more aware of the importance of saving our planet, companies who engage in green tech and in other actions that aim to protect our planet may get a competitive advantage since their brand will be associated with eco-friendly behavior and the general public might be more willing to buy products from those companies compared to companies who do not care about going green at all.

Tax advantages

Many governments all over the world financially support companies and also private persons who want to use green technologies. For instance, if you are a homeowner, you might get subsidies for installing solar panels or other eco-friendly devices.

Therefore, you should inform yourself regarding those subsidies. By doing so, you can not only make your home greener, you can also save plenty of money.

Disadvantages of Green Tech

  1. High R&D costs
  2. High implementation costs
  3. Green technology is still quite immature
  4. Technical issues
  5. Implementation will take many years
  6. High product costs
  7. Lack of knowledge of the general public
  8. Some companies may go out of business
  9. Job losses
  10. Sophisticated regulatory framework needed
  11. Not everything that is labeled as green is actually green

High R&D costs

As you can see from the previous analysis, there are several advantages to green technologies. However, even though green technology can be pretty helpful for humanity, there are also some issues related to it.

One problem with environmental technology is that it is rather new and plenty of money has to be spent on research and development in order to use this kind of technology on a scale that is necessary to make a significant environmental impact.

Thus, companies have to spend large amounts of money upfront, which may discourage and slow down the development of sophisticated green technologies to a certain extent.

High implementation costs

Not only the research costs regarding green technologies can be significant, also the implementation costs for companies can add up. For instance, if a big company wants to switch from fossil to renewable resources, the equipment and the work that is needed will cost plenty of money and it might take many years until this will be a business case for companies.

Therefore, some companies may also refrain from switching to green tech due to the high upfront costs related to it.

Green technology is still quite immature

Although it is a quite promising technology and will be important in the future, green tech is still quite immature since the pressure on industries is not high enough in many countries yet.

Therefore, also the infrastructure around green tech is quite limited and governments around the world should take great efforts to improve the green tech frameworks so that companies can operate with those green technologies in an efficient manner.

Technical issues

Since the field of green tech is rather new, there might also be several technical issues related to it. Every technology needs time to develop and to get mature so that companies can learn from mistakes and optimize processes.

Thus, it may take time to optimize the processes around green tech and many companies might not want to invest this time now for benefits that might wait far in the future.

Implementation will take many years

In our current state of the world, private people as well as companies still heavily rely on conventional technologies. Most of our energy is still produced with fossil fuels and most of our vehicles are still operated by conventional fuels.

Therefore, it will take many years to adjust the framework to green technologies and in the transition process, we will still be dependent on conventional technologies to a great extent.

High product costs

Since every new technology is quite expensive, the products related to green tech will also be rather expensive at the beginning. However, over time, those products will become much cheaper since processes around green tech will become optimized.

Thus, consumers have to expect high product prices at the beginning and should not be surprised if they have to pay much more for green tech products, at least until the green technologies have become mature.

Lack of knowledge of the general public

Many people might still not be aware of our environmental problems and how important it is to develop solutions for them.

Therefore, people might simply not understand why they should use green tech products and may not be willing to pay more money for those kinds of products.

However, if there is a lack of customer acceptance, the spread of green tech for the mass market may be slowed down significantly.

Some companies may go out of business

Companies that are currently operating with the help of conventional technologies may go out of business. This is especially true for companies that engage in the fossil fuel sector.

If those companies are not willing to adjust their energy production towards renewable energies, chances are that they will not survive the competition.

Job losses

Another problem with green tech is that it will result in job losses for people in certain conventional technology industries.

If companies in those industries go out of business, also the workers of those companies will lose their jobs and some of them will have it hard to find another job.

Sophisticated regulatory framework needed

It may also be a problem to find a global consensus regarding the regulatory framework and regarding the subsidies in the green tech industry.

Some countries may prefer to invest large sums of money in research and development for green tech while others may not consider this topic as important enough to do so.

Therefore, it may be hard to find a global framework in which companies could operate in order to spread green tech as fast as possible.

Not everything that is labeled as green is actually green

Many companies want their brand to look quite eco-friendly. However, many companies are not eco-friendly at all.

Therefore, also in the green tech world, there will companies trying to use this green image without actually acting green.

Thus, green tech may be a term that will be misused by many companies on a global scale.

Top 10 Green Technology Pros & Cons – Summary List

Green Technology ProsGreen Technology Cons
Reduction of resource depletionSignificant R&D spending necessary
Less soil pollutionNot mature yet
Less air pollutionTechnical problems
Energy savingsHigh implementation costs
New business opportunitiesMaintenance issues
Green tech may strengthen company brandsIndustry experts needed
Reduction in wasteSome companies may go out of business
More efficient recyclingJob losses
Less starvationHigh product costs
Reduction of plastic pollutionLack of awareness of the general public

Conclusion

Green technologies have many important advantages and will become even more important in the future since we have to solve our environmental problems sooner or later.

However, there are also some problems related to environmental technology that have to be addressed by regulators in order to assure a framework where we as humanity can use green tech as efficiently as possible to improve our ecological footprint on a global scale.

Sources

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/green_tech.asp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_technology

https://www.britannica.com/event/green-revolution

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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