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Environmental technology is a target for growth in Germany

December 2, 2021
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Germany is home to one of the most advanced markets for environmental technologies in the world, and new laws are creating new opportunities for foreign companies to enter the market.

The global COVID-19 pandemic weakened the German economy over the past two years. However, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, economic growth is expected to reach 4.1% in 2022 and 2.4% in 2023, and the economy is increasingly recovering. Investment will be supported by low interest rates and rising pressure to build capacity. Inflation is expected to slow in 2022 but will likely remain high.

The circular economy—whose goals involve reusing and recycling materials, eliminating pollution and regenerating nature—and sustainable water management are expected to increase at an annual rate of 5%, reaching a combined market volume of $124.4 billion by 2030. With an estimated annual growth of 15% for the period of 2016-2025, the market for recycling technologies offers the fastest-growing opportunities.

Germany’s sustainable water management market is the largest in Europe and its largest exporter, with a volume of $44 billion USD in 2020. The Federal Water Act and related laws—including the Drinking Water Ordinance and the Wastewater Ordinance, as well as a number of local and state regulations—provide the legal basis for a sustainable water management market.

Sewage sludge treatment and phosphorus recovery offer particular opportunities. The agriculture industry is responsible for about 34% of sewage sludge, based on 2016 figures. The German Sewage Sludge Ordinance regulates the spreading of sewage sludge on agricultural and horticultural land. The use of sewage sludge for fertilizer purposes is prohibited, and phosphorus and other nutrients must be recovered. No specific recovery technologies have been defined, though, allowing suppliers with innovative recovery processes to enter the market. There is also a great need for cost-effective and energy-efficient solutions for micropollutant removal, especially in municipal wastewater systems. Technologies such as adsorption on activated carbon, nanofiltration and reverse osmosis need to be improved. The energy turnaround, digitalization and growing consumer awareness of sustainability have also led to a number of niche markets in Germany that offer growing potential for innovative companies in the circular economy.

>In summary, developments in the renewable energy and water industries have opened attractive niches that offer new potential for U.S. suppliers.

To gain further insights into the German market for water technology and renewable energies, the E- World Energy & Water event in Essen is a good opportunity to meet relevant industry players.

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