Climate Tech: powering net zero

Cleantech: helping businesses power towards net zero

Our research suggests users and providers of cleantech are seeking opportunities to grow.

We are seeing significant growing demand for cleantech solutions among businesses. By facilitating funding and investment into clean technologies, we are supporting businesses on their journey to net zero.

Helena Sans

Head of Technology, Media and Telecoms, Barclays Corporate Banking

The future looks bright for cleantech

99% of cleantech and/or climate tech companies believe the UK climate tech market is advanced compared with the rest of the world.
87% of businesses have an ambition to reach net zero.
77% of businesses are aware of the role of cleantech and/or climate tech in working towards net zero.

Cleantech is commonly defined as technology that helps to reduce or avoid negative impacts to the environment, for example technology related to recycling, renewable energy, or methods of transport that do not cause pollution.

The majority of respondents to our survey said they believe that the UK cleantech market is advanced versus the rest of the world and many said that technology and/or cleantech does or will play a part in their carbon reduction plan/strategy. 

Our research – which called on the views of more than 500 people within businesses already using cleantech, and 300 cleantech providers – suggests that there will be increased demand for cleantech solutions over the next five years, as businesses continue their journey to net zero. Full research criteria can be found in ‘About the research

Providers of cleantech solutions feel confident in the cleantech sector, with a resounding 99% of respondents saying they are optimistic about its future. Users, meanwhile, have plans or strategies to cut carbon emissions, with 90% of our respondents saying they believe that clean technology could have a positive impact on their industry/sector.

Our research shows growing momentum in the UK around cleantech. The majority of businesses surveyed see a benefit in decarbonising their activities and cleantech companies believe that the UK cleantech market is advanced versus the rest of the world. Barclays has a strategic focus on developing a holistic set of solutions to support cleantech companies scale up and support large businesses transition and meet the demands and opportunities presented by a low-carbon economy.

Daniel Hanna

Global Head of Sustainable Finance CIB, Barclays

The drivers for change

Our research shows that the key drivers of businesses’ strategy to carbon reduction are a combination of regulatory pressures and a desire to protect and enhance their brand reputation.

What's primarily driving your plan/strategy/commitment to carbon reduction, if anything?

These businesses clearly see the value of carbon reduction beyond simply complying with regulation – with some 90% of those questioned saying they believe it will deliver benefits to their business. We’re also seeing customers, employees and suppliers increasingly make sustainability credentials a part of their decision-making process.

What types of cleantech are being prioritised?

According to our research, businesses will be mainly prioritising cleantech investment across:

Energy efficiency

Waste and recycling

Renewable energy

This focus on energy efficiency and waste and recycling is understandable as it reflects the top two drivers of carbon emissions – energy and waste - from our research of cleantech users. But there are notable regional differences across these priority areas – such as renewable energy being a top priority for most businesses in the Southwest of England, and waste and recycling for the majority in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Converting commitment to action

Most cleantech users that took part in our research said that reducing carbon emissions and reaching net zero is important to them, but just 68% currently have a plan or strategy in place to reduce their carbon emissions.

Corporates could find it beneficial to keep themselves informed about cleantech developments and the options available and to understand their carbon emissions strategy. One path could be to optimise knowledge networks and opportunities to connect. One example of this is though our Barclays Eagle Labs bridge programme, which brings together tech start-ups with corporates looking to tap into innovative technologies.

For companies looking to reduce their impact on the environment, it could help to keep a broad awareness, focus on education, and become informed about the options available. At Barclays we offer a financial and learning bridge between users and providers, allowing them to connect and work together to help create solutions to innovation challenges faced by larger businesses in the industry.

With over three quarters of respondents being open to using technology and/or cleantech as part of their carbon reduction strategy, there is a clear opportunity for cleantech providers to help businesses meet their objectives through greater collaboration. It will be interesting to see how providers take advantage of the opportunity.

Obstacles to growth

While the cleantech sector is gearing up for growth, some barriers to expansion remain. Difficulties with accessing funding and investment can impede turnover growth among cleantech providers. Other challenges include skills shortages and being unable to leverage industry demand.

69% of cleantech providers are finding it hard to source the talent they need to grow.

Working with startups to scaleups, the Barclays Eagle Labs ecosystem offers UK businesses access to growth programmes, along with networks, mentoring and support to help businesses connect, innovate and grow.

For example, our new Sustainability Bridge is a seven-module programme designed to connect some of the UK’s leading established businesses with startups looking to apply innovation to real world problems. Our first cohort focused on sustainable innovation in the built environment.

Strong demand meets a thriving cleantech sector

It is clear from our research that there is an increase in demand for cleantech products and services among UK businesses currently using cleantech and that coincides with over half of the cleantech providers who participated in our research saying they are currently considering investment or financial support for their business.

Are you currently considering investment/financial support for your business and if so when are you likely to seek that support to grow your business?
52% - Yes
40% - No
8% - Unsure
59% - 3-5 years
37% - 1-2 years
2% - Over 5 years
1% - Less than 1 year
1 % - Not likely to seek investment/ financial support

This timeline aligns with the intentions of corporates, 87% of whom said they are likely to increase their investment in cleantech in the next five years.

The survey is telling us that many cleantech companies will seek multiple alternative sources of capital in addition to equity finance; this reflects their need to grow at an accelerated pace and ensure they have sufficient sources of financing in place for both the working capital and long term investment needed for commercialisation at scale.

Gareth Jones

Head of Large Corporate Lending, UK Corporate Banking

Routes to finance and investment

40% of cleantech providers who responded said they would consider funding and investment through trade and working capital, with a similar amount, 39%, choosing sustainable capital markets.

Wherever you are on your journey, whatever size your business, and whichever sector you operate in, we can help.

Corporate Lending

For example in the form of a Term Loan could help providers invest for expansion through solutions created with the specific needs of the business in mind.

Liquidity and Working Capital

These solutions could enable business growth by optimising interest on available balances, releasing cash from receivables and mitigating client and supplier risks.

Revolving Credit Facility

Could help give businesses the ability to draw down and repay a loan as often as they need within an overall agreed loan limit and during an agreed term, without early repayment fees or reapplying for finance.

Our research shows that 44% of businesses intend to increase their cleantech use/investment developing their own solutions, in the next five years. 

If businesses are doing the work themselves rather than connecting with cleantech providers already equipped with the solutions they need, and suppliers find industry demand a barrier to turnover growth, there could be an opportunity to bridge that gap through increased collaboration, knowledge and support.

Strategies for success

In order to help seize the opportunities of cleantech growth in the coming five years, there are multiple ways providers and businesses using or likely to use cleantech can combine and collaborate. Consider the following:

Start with the basics
Big tech roll-outs can be daunting when you are juggling them with the day-to-day running of the business. But you can take incremental steps to a full cleantech strategy.

Build a carbon strategy
According to our survey reducing your carbon emissions could deliver business benefits as well as helping to protect you from a regulatory perspective. So, begin to build carbon reduction and clean technology into your business strategy – setting out the investment required but also the bottom-line benefits they will deliver over time.

Secure finance for growth
Barclays has launched the Demo Directory, a free online service open to UK businesses, regardless of who they bank with, for easier access to capital by connecting them to a network of attested investors.

Seek help and guidance
Deploying cleantech can require more than just financial support so find networks that can help you. Our Eagle Labs ecosystem offers UK businesses access to government-funded programmes, along with networks, mentoring and support to help you connect, grow and scale.

Tell your clean story
Our research reveals that many businesses consider the use of cleantech as important to customers and to their brand reputation. Therefore, once you are using cleantech, build out your story to help you demonstrate your commitment to your customers and clients.

Stay ahead of the curve
Stay on top of the latest trends, developments and opportunities by keeping an eye on the press, leveraging your networks and speaking with those close to the industry.

More in this series

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Climate tech: piecing the puzzle together

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From science fiction to decarbonisation

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Carbon capture company Nuada supports businesses in reducing their emissions through next generation climate technology.

Striking gold

Striking gold

Collaboration and investment in clean technology help the Royal Mint on its net zero journey.

About the research

This information is based on bespoke market research by Censuswide among businesses that use cleantech and cleantech companies in the UK. In the survey we used the following definition to describe cleantech:

Technology that makes it possible to reduce or avoid harm to the environment, for example technology related to recycling, renewable energy, or methods of transport that do not cause pollution.

The sample of 507 employees who work in UK businesses that use cleantech was collected between 4 September 2023 and 11 September 2003. The sample of 300 senior managers and above working in cleantech companies with 10 or more employees was collected between 5 September 2023 and 11 September 2023.

Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct, which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

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