Green Tech Helps Boost the Economy


What are the consequences of our behavior for the environment, for other people, for our planet? There is a desire for change towards “greener” ways of thinking and living and towards “green” consumption – more and more people want to stop living at the expense of others and the environment and want to become more independent of the “big players”. All this has affected – and will continue to affect – the strategic outlook of companies and the nature of the markets.


Environmental protection, climate action, and innovative green technologies have been key technology drivers in numerous industries and have led to the emergence of a new business ethic. GreenTech has a focus on eco innovations, but also takes economic and social considerations into account.

Without GreenTech and its innovations, seeking to secure a sustainable future for all of us, the major issues of environmental protection, CO2 reduction and prevention, resource management, manageable supply chains, social justice, and equal opportunities that will be crucial for humankind in the coming decades cannot be implemented.

As a key cross-sectional technology, GreenTech modernizes national and international markets, drives innovations resulting in sustainable products, and promises sustainable growth, according the "GreenTech made in Germany" technology atlas, published by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV).


Green Tech Atlas

Based on market analyses and company surveys, the Environmental Technology Atlas provides information on the German green tech sector, presents the latest figures on the development of environmental technology and resource efficiency, analyzes underlying trends and prepares up-to-date information on technologies, market sizes, and growth expectations in the various green tech lead markets.

One thing is certain: The green tech industry is developing very well. As the 2021 GreenTech Atlas shows, the global market volume of the industry was around 4.6 trillion euros, exceeding the four trillion euro mark for the first time in 2020, according to the report:

The outlook for the future is also positive: the green tech industry remains on course for expansion. According to the market forecasts for the seven lead markets, the global market volume of the industry will be 9.38 trillion euros in 2030. This corresponds to an average annual growth rate of 7.3 percent. The sector’s growth path remains unbroken, and the key market drivers continue to get stronger. – The momentum of the German sector is even outstripping global development. In 2020, the market volume of German environmental technology and resource efficiency amounted to 392 billion euros. By 2030, the total volume of the domestic lead markets will more than double to 856 billion euros. This corresponds to an average annual growth rate of 8.1 percent. Energy efficiency continues to be the largest lead market (117 billion euros), with the sustainable mobility market in second place (91 billion euros).

2021 Green Tech Atlas

The report also draws attention to the increasing international competition faced the sector. In the USA and China in particular, an innovative green tech industry has developed that is penetrating the international market with its own products and services in the areas of recycling management and sustainable water management, among others.

2021 GreenTech Atlas (de)


Sustainable Future Markets/ Green Technology Lead Markets

Sustainable future markets, also known as "green lead markets," combine both environmental protection and economic efficiency. Environmental protection has become an economic factor, and, in the medium to long term, the economy is dependent on successful environmental policies. At the heart of green technology are new processes that are environmentally friendly and seek to improve human health and wellbeing. Sustainable future markets rely on technological change to generate resource-saving products and services.

Here, we adopt the classification of the Environmental Technology Atlas of the BMUV into the following seven lead markets of the green tech sector:

  • Environmentally friendly generation, storage and distribution of energy
  • Energy efficiency
  • Raw material and material efficiency
  • Sustainable mobility
  • Circular economy
  • Sustainable water management
  • Sustainable agriculture and forestry

Over the next few months, we will provide further examples from research conducted at RWTH and at startups originating from the University to give you an idea of what is going on in the various lead markets.

We will start with five interviews providing insights into the lead markets of raw material and material efficiency, circular economy, sustainable water management, and sustainable agriculture and forestry.


Raw Material and Material Efficiency in Mining

Find out how raw material and material efficiency can be achieved in mining in an interview with Professor Elisabeth Clausen, head of the Institute for Advanced Mining Technologies at RWTH.

Lead Market Circular Economy

In an interview with Professor Sonja Herres-Pawlis, head of the Chair of Bioinorganic Chemistry at RWTH, you can find out how bioplastics, which come from renewable raw materials and are biodegradable, can now also be recycled.

Plasma Technology in the Circular Economy

In an interview with Dr. Montgomery Jaritz, co-founder of the Aachen-based startup IonKraft, you can gain insights into the lead market of the circular economy. The mission of IonKraft is to make plastic packaging and coating for barrier applications recyclable with the help of plasma technology.

Sustainable Water Management

How sustainable water management can succeed has been demonstrated by everwave. The Aachen-based startup uses innovative technologies to enable floating river platforms and garbage collection boats to pick up and store floating waste. But it doesn't stop at cleanup missions: The collected material is recycled and reused with the help of environmentally friendly processes. Read more about this in our interview with everwave founder Marcella Hansch.

Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry

The Aachen-based startup contributes to sustaining a healthy environment and develops solutions for a “clean” agriculture. For insights into this lead market, read the interview with CEO Dirk Vandenhirtz.


Read more about the significance of the topic of Sustainability at RWTH.