The project "Roadmap Environmental Technologies 2020" aims at identifying strategic policy options for promoting developments and commercial applications in the field of environmental technologies. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research; it is conducted in context of the Federal Government's High-Tech-Strategy and the so-called "Master Plan Environment". Environmental technologies are well established key-elements of the German economy, but still a considerable potential for innovations and progress in commercialisation can be identified. It is expected that in future the global demand for environmental technologies will further increase, induced by problems such as global warming or the negative side effects of rapid economic growth in emerging countries.
The term "environmental technology" is often used but in general not clearly defined. In this project, the focus is on technologies and their social embeddings (for instance in form of services or markets) which contribute in a relevant way to the mitigation or solving of environmental related problems and, at the same time, to a more sustainable management of natural resources. The characterisation "relevant" can be understood on the one hand in a quantitative way, in relation to the amount of materials exchanged with the environment, and on the other hand in a qualitative way, in relation to the importance for the environmental improvements. Technologies that are directly used for the production or conversion of energy are excluded, since these technologies are covered by a different project.
The project is structured in two phases: The first phase starts with the identification of relevant technologies. The state-of-the-art in the field of environmental technologies will be covered. This is done by considering the scientific-technological knowledge production, the transfer of technologies into industrial applications and - as far as possible - the volume of corresponding markets. It is important to highlight where technological breakthroughs are to be expected and which hampering or promoting factors will be relevant in the process of commercialisation.
In a second phase, the Road-Mapping-Process will be carried out on basis of an analysis of relevant political goal-settings and a Mini Delphi Study. The Road-Mapping Process will analyse which mid to long-term developments are discernible and which would be desirable. Together with experts from Science, Industry and Politics important development pathways as well as lead markets will be identified. This implies a combination of a problem-oriented methodology (market pull: which environmental problems require solutions?) and a technical-oriented approach (technology push: which options and application will be offered by technological progress?). The time horizon will be the year 2020, but in order to provide for orientation for long-term funding strategies, it will be necessary to look beyond that horizon at least in a rather rough way.