The tech sector relies on vast amounts of energy and infrastructure which results in a high carbon footprint across the sector that contributes to approximately 1.4% of global carbon emissions and around 4% of global electricity use per year.  However, technology is now emerging as a key facilitator to achieve the UK's net zero target by 2050. What does this mean for potential opportunities and growth within the tech industry?

In September 2020, Deloitte and techUK published a report on 'Making the UK a digital clean tech leader' and set out how the UK was well placed to capitalize on the clean tech space.  The report highlighted the UK's existing strengths in renewable energy, innovation in technology and a wider cultural awareness of environmental issues.  

The UK is already seeing growth in a number of key clean tech areas where technology is being used to more effectively manage and use energy.  These technologies include smart appliances, smart buildings and predictive maintenance, just to name a few.  These technologies manage and track energy use and provide real time data explaining when energy supply is at its highest and when it is wasted.  They can turn off heating and lights in meeting rooms if there are no meetings booking in those rooms at certain times of day.  These technologies dramatically improve the efficiency of energy use and supply in the home, at work and in transport.  

To help foster the growth and development of clean tech the latest round of the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (EEF) has announced £11 million in government funding to turn ideas into real products and services whilst eliminating carbon emissions.  While this funding is only targeted to support between 15 to 20 projects, it is a step in the right direction to create green jobs and kick start private sector investment in greener technologies.  It will also assist the UK to 'build back greener' as we host the GOP26 client summit in Glasgow this November. 

The CEO of techUK, Julian David said it perfectly in his quote: “We are seeing the growth of a new digital tech sector, one whose focus is to cut carbon emissions and support other sectors in their transition to net zero. But digitalisation doesn’t just happen. We need to work with government to unlock the full potential of tech in helping UK businesses become smarter, more efficient and cleaner.

While there is growth in the clean tech space there are still barriers that need to be overcome to facilitate meaningful change.  However, public sector investment is certainly a meaningful place to start tackling those barriers.