An article by Jeremy Leggett in which he, amongst other things, poses the questions “… why no Microsofts, Intels, Googles, or Facebooks have emerged yet among the cleantech industries. Why… has the cleantech revolution been so much more difficult to crack than the digital and Internet revolutions?”

The answer is fairly simple:

(i) for those organisations the business model sits on top of existing infrastructure ; it’s relatively easy to implement (cf to sell a car your don’t need to build a road).

(ii) their products are easy to buy and use, and give relatively quick gratification. Whether you view it as crossing the chasm or reaching a tipping point, these companies have thrived on their ability to grow fast based on easy adoption and that fact that customer like their products.

Compare this to loft insulation, or solar heating, or… all of which are a (relative) hassle to procure and fit, and don’t make much difference to my life in the next year (s).

The long-term return and limited personal gratification from many sustainable investments means that like vaccination and stopping drink-driving it need constant and consistent government pressure, a change in attitudes and financial/personal incentives. That’s a big ask from any government or population. It’s certainly not impossible, but it requires a more consistent argument from the cleantech community.