"Going green" is a matter of sanity, given the dangers that the continuing climate crisis poses to our economy, society, and even our future as humankind ( https://www.weforum.org/topics/climate-change ). However, going green is anything but “greenwashing” (describing marketing and PR methods that portray a company as being more eco-friendly than it is in reality). In a truly green business model, products related to issues such as sustainability and responsibility, or fundamental positive changes in one's actions, are strong arguments that make a company eco-friendly. There are numerous tech companies that either - with the way they do business, - with their product portfolio and green solutions to traditional problems, - or with great initiatives (regarding e-waste, the use of renewable energy, or their CO₂ footprint) deserve to be called “top green tech companies in Europe”. The majority of these companies are located in Germany, which is not entirely surprising. After all, environmental protection, the expansion of renewable energies, and financial support for eco-friendly initiatives have been on the agenda of German politics for years. However, we also present companies from France, Spain, Norway, and other countries that serve as good examples of how sustainable tech businesses can succeed. The following selection is not meant to be exclusive, but rather a representation of the variety that is the topic of sustainability in tech. These are the European tech companies presented in this article: Ecosia windCORES Posteo Paessler AG. Tomorrow Plume Labs Seaborg Airly X1 WIND Ecosia Ecosia - the search engine that plants trees Perhaps the greatest challenge of sustainability is to ensure that it reaches every part of this vast mosaic that modern human society has become. To make sure that carbon, which is tediously saved in one part of a large production chain, won’t be blown out just at the next, holistic and innovative approaches are called for. Metaphorically speaking: Green Tech companies need to think out of the (container)box to make sure they don’t miss out on the rest of the freight. Berlin startup Ecosia ( https://www.ecosia.org/?cen ) is a perfect example of such an approach. Ecosia offers a green search engine that can be implemented as an add-on to most common browsers. For ads as well as search results, the company resorts to the already established infrastructure of Microsoft’s search engine Bing. With every conducted search, Ecosia earns a small revenue for the displayed ads. Nothing new up to this point – but now the magic happens: This revenue is directly used to plant trees and support other green projects around the globe! Ecosia states that they can plant a new tree for every 45 search queries. However, just by randomly sticking seeds into the earth, no good is done, of course. To make sure every project meets the regional ecosystem’s needs, Ecosia deploys a specialist with the catchy name of ‘Chief Tree Planting Officer’. He and his team handle the entire reforestation process, starting from identifying suitable areas and choosing the best approach to executing the project and supervising the young trees’ growth. One tree planted for every 45 queries performed at their search engine, states Ecosia Combining a web service with reforestation may sound strange at first, but it works exceptionally well. Since its launch in 2009, the green tech company planted more than 160 million trees. In its home country Germany, Ecosia belongs to the five most used search engines. Apart from its innovative concept, transparency and informativeness seem to be key factors to Ecosia’s success. On its webpage, the startup discloses exactly how much money fuels what – and why. Interested users can look up detailed information on the individual projects in monthly published reports and learn more about the importance of reforestation and sustainability via blog articles or Videos. Ecosia demonstrates how two seemingly unrelated pieces of the puzzle can come together and make a difference, which earns them a well-deserved spot on our list of top green tech companies. windCORES Generating clean energy and then feeding it into the energy grid are different things. From a purely physical point of view, consumers will never receive as much energy as was originally generated. And due to often nonsensical bureaucracy and various systemic deficiencies in the power grids, energy is sometimes even voluntarily discharged unused. The idea behind windCORES ( https://www.windcores.de/ ) is quite simple: In Europe, plants that produce renewable energy are constantly shut down because the power grid is overloaded. Looking at 2019, 5.4 TWh of clean energy was not generated for this reason in Germany alone. And with this amount of electricity alone, 1/3 of all data centers in Germany could be run in a climate-friendly manner. It is possible to exploit this untapped potential – yet, why not do it directly in such a way that the energy consumer moves into where the energy is produced? The amazingly innovative company windCORES builds energy-intensive data centers in wind turbines and thus uses the electricity directly where it is produced. And when you think about it, a wind turbine is the perfect place for a data center. After all, it offers sufficient space, has numerous powerful grids and data connections, and provides clean power to run a data center, which is increasingly vital, especially for companies that are concerned about their carbon footprint. The simplest solutions are often the best: windCORES proves this. Existing infrastructures are used and synergy effects are created, which have a positive effect on the prices of the "cost factor data center". Through Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), windCORES also wants to offer special transparent price models that customers can count on. There is a great use case story with windCORES and another company on this list – namely Paessler, which is presented below – describing all the strengths of the windCORES system even more vividly, including a video; here it is ( https://www.paessler.com/company/casestudies/windcores ). The use case between Paessler and windCORES is also a fantastic example of how competencies in software and hardware can meaningfully come together to make a difference. Posteo The annual carbon footprint created by sending, storing, and processing spam emails equals the number of greenhouse gases pumped out by 3.1 million passenger cars a year. This incredible number led the next green tech company on our list, Posteo ( https://posteo.de/en ), to draw a drastic conclusion: Its email service just denies any incoming mail, that appears to be spam - entirely. But that isn’t the only thing that works a little differently at Posteo. Founded by former Greenpeace activists in 2009, the email provider from Berlin stands out due to its high standard of data minimization and security while operating impressively sustainable at the same time. Posteo is entirely self-financed and refrains from including advertisements. The start-up offers email accounts, which start from 1€ a month and guarantee high safety and anonymity. Mails and accounts are encrypted in multiple ways and data around them are only collected when indispensable. Payment data, for example, is either avoided – Posteo offers its users to pay in cash – or not connected to the respective mail account. Soon after the launch of its email service, Posteo received a lot of attention. Due to the NSA affair and resulting concerns about email privacy, people searched for a more private and secure alternative to their data-guzzling providers. One feature made Posteo especially attractive: Their service didn’t store IP addresses, guaranteeing perfect anonymity. In 2019, however, the start-up had to yield in front of a decision of the German Federal Constitutional Court, which forced it to give up that strict no-IP policy for criminal prosecution. What brings Posteo to this list is the company’s sustainable behavior on both large and small scales. Apart from minimizing data, Posteo operates its servers with 100% green power from Greenpeace-affiliated green planet energy and trusts its money only to sustainable banks such as the German GLS bank. The company even gets politically active to increase pressure towards a quick energy transition. On a smaller scale, it supports its employees in a sustainable lifestyle. Posteo pays for their public transport, provides free organic food for lunch, and repairs broken bicycles - just to name a few examples. From business model over office management up to the support for its employees – Posteo is a perfect example of a tech company that operates sustainably on all levels. Paessler AG The next German company to be presented in this article is the global player Paessler ( https://www.paessler.com/ ) from beautiful Nuremberg, Bavaria. We have thought long and hard about presenting this company here because Paessler has become known in a traditional IT field, which by its character has nothing to do with environmental issues and sustainability. And yet Paessler here clearly represents the trend of using one's strengths to fight for good causes; a role model for other tech companies to do the same. Paessler became world famous for its IT monitoring solution Paessler PRTG, of which there are now 3 different flavors (traditional on-premises IT monitoring, monitoring from the cloud, and a dedicated solution for very large networks across multiple locations). Paessler realized early on that with proper, efficient, and easy-to-use IT monitoring, one can actually "monitor everything" (they made that one of their slogans, by the way). For this reason, Paessler has been active for several years now in areas that can no longer be classically assigned to IT. Such as Operational Technology in the industry sector. Or the Internet of Things. In the summer of 2020, Paessler gave itself a new corporate purpose. The company now wants to make greater use of its expertise in the area of IT, OT, and IoT monitoring to enable users to monitor and reduce energy consumption in a meaningful way. To this end, Paessler has already launched competitions to select among its more than 500,000 daily users those who stand out with the most innovative ideas in terms of reducing resource consumption through monitoring. There are indeed many great possibilities – because the IT landscape is teeming with expensive power guzzlers. Let's just think of data centers, which consume incredible amounts of electricity every day and often don't run as energy-efficiently as they could. Or let's think of the upgrading of company buildings with smart sensors that automatically regulate the heating and switch off the lights in all rooms where no one is currently present. Or in the industrial sector, how many machines, in the absence of smart sensors, don't have the ongoing maintenance that would allow them to achieve the same results in a more energy-saving way? We see: It is possible to set new goals as an established, successful company and contribute your part to make the world a greener place. Paessler is a wonderful example of this. And it is interesting to know, by the way, that the founder of Paessler AG is now involved in another company, which does not bear his name this time but is called the Carbon Drawdown Initiative ( https://www.carbon-drawdown.de/home-en ). Here, Dirk Paessler is collaborating with a large group of scientific experts on the topic of negative emissions. Tomorrow When thinking of going green, the banking sector might not be the first thing coming to mind. However, sustainability is not limited to production or consumption. Just as with every other venture, eco-friendly projects need to be funded first. A thoughtful choice of investments is thereby essential for our way to a green and sustainable future. So, let’s be honest: Do you know, what your bank invests in? Young fintech company Tomorrow (https://www.tomorrow.one/en-EU/ ) takes a clear stand: Money must contribute to a better world. Therefore, the Berlin-based startup does solely invest in projects with a positive ecological and sociocultural impact; fossil energy and weaponry are a no-go. Every investment candidate is checked thoroughly, reviewed against the UN sustainable development goals, and verified by external experts. With Tomorrow, users can open a bank account and do their online banking with a top modern app. By now, the company doesn’t have its own banking license yet. To enable cash withdrawal and provide their customers with securities, they teamed up with Berlin-based Solarisbank, allowing Tomorrow to offer almost all the functions that we are used to by established banks - while ensuring that all deposited money flows into green industries. Same thing if customers want to invest or place funds themselves. Tomorrow provides them with a portfolio of verifiable green projects and companies. Additionally, their app offers a variety of eco-friendly features: • The card payment fee which accrues every time you pay by credit card goes directly to sustainable projects, e.g., reforestation. • For every purchase, the Tomorrow app displays its environmental impact. • With the most extensive account format, customers can neutralize their carbon footprint. Since its foundation in 2018, Tomorrow grew to 120 employees and more than 120.000 customers. The company is still at the beginning of its journey and wants to achieve great things – but not at any cost. As a certified Benefit corporation, it commits itself to put value for society over profit. This declaration is verified every three years in a comprehensive investigation. Overall, Tomorrow’s green strategy is very thought-trough and users benefit from multiple innovative features. This holistic approach to sustainable banking earns the young fintech player a spot on our list of the top green companies. Plume Labs France, as a European nation with a strong political commitment to climate protection, must be represented in this article, and Plume Labs ( https://plumelabs.com/en/ ) is a truly worthy example of innovative engineering. The mission of Plume Labs is to fight air pollution, a growing challenge that still does not receive the political and public attention it should. After all, air pollution (especially in urban areas) causes over 7 million premature deaths worldwide every year. And why isn't this issue being fought as much as it ought to be? According to Plume Labs, one of the reasons lies in the often insufficient and inconclusive data on air pollution. Which is where this company steps in. On its website, Plume Lab cites three guiding ideas decisive for its work: 1. If you can express problems in data, you can potentially solve them 2. Data must always be presented in a meaningful and engaging way 3. Collective change occurs when people recognize the causes of their problems To fight air pollution as effectively as possible, Plume Labs combines hardware with software and sensors with some pretty impressive monitoring. The high-quality, lightweight, and award-winning Flow Sensors come with a relatively high price tag but are reliable measuring stations with instant feedback. They cover PM1, PM2.5, and PM10 as well as NO2 and VOCs. The current device model, which you can easily hold in your hand or attach to your backpack, is called Flow 2 ( https://plumelabs.com/en/flow/ ). Plume Labs also likes to talk about its "Flow Fleets", which are the name of the game: a multitude of smart sensors, that produce a picture of the environment that is increasingly close-meshed, comprehensive, and accurate. In a well-designed smartphone app, you can use maps to see where you've been exposed to air pollution and then make smart decisions, such as changing your route to work or finding a different playground for your kids. Scaling is a key focus at Plume Labs: By building a community with numerous contributors, major cities are already seamlessly monitored by their devices. The big goal is to use data and smart monitoring to put enough pressure on political decision-makers to enable genuine change. Don't miss this Ted Talk by Plume Labs Founder and CEO Romain Lacombe! Seaborg Let’s jump from France to Norway, and to a rather controversial topic. While the use of nuclear energy to secure Europe's targeted climate goals is considered a relatively reliable and efficient means, nuclear energy is highly controversial, especially among the general public. This energy source is so error-prone and potentially threatening that it cannot compete with solar energy or wind power in terms of popularity. Seaborg aims to change that with the Compact Molten Salt Reactor. The whole thing is based on the factor that renewable energies do indeed supply a lot of electricity, but rather irregularly. The sun does not always shine, and the wind does not always blow. So, in theory, a decentralized grid with lots of variable renewable energy works best with stable sources, like nuclear. The power barge designed by Seaborg can produce energy where and when it is needed, supporting variable renewables on windless, cloudy days. Now you're wondering, of course, what the difference is between Seaborg's CMSR and, let's say, a classic nuclear power plant. Well, first of all, the fuel in the CMSR is mixed into a molten fluoride salt, which also serves as a coolant. This offers significant safety advantages. Namely, should the fuel salt come into contact with the atmosphere, it simply cools down and turns into solid rock, which absorbs all the radioactive material. And what happens to nuclear waste? Well, at the end of the fuel cycle (which is specified as 12 years), the fuel is returned to the supplier, where the short-lived fission products are separated and stored. Because the fuel is chemically stable, this waste is comparable to radioactive hospital waste and can be treated by conventional methods. The remaining fuel salt gets mixed into new CMSR fuel at the fuel delivery facility. This will avoid the problems of long-term storage in the future. A CMSR "Power Barge" is expected to be capable of supplying up to 800 MW of electricity as well as clean water from desalination, district heating, and cooling. In addition, the reactor's outlet temperature is high enough to efficiently produce carbon-neutral hydrogen, synthetic fuels, and fertilizer. This means that CMSR-based plants can do more than just provide electricity. In addition, this technology can be a potential contributor to the transition to a zero-emissions society. Check out Seaborg's website ( https://www.seaborg.com/ ) for more information. Airly We featured Plume Labs above, and here comes the second company to tackle the issue of air pollution. As already noted, bad air quality imposes grave problems such as lung diseases and increased risk for heart attacks, a problem, that does not only appear in big cities. According to WHO, 99% of the world’s population breathes air that is polluted to some extent (https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tabtab_1)! Everybody knows dramatic pictures of a metropolis vanishing behind impenetrable smog. But air pollution isn’t always visible. Airly ( https://airly.org/en/ ), strives to change that. Airly is a green tech company from Poland devoted to providing as many people as possible with accurate data about the air they breathe. On their website, they describe themselves as a “SaaS company”, by which they don’t mean Software as a Service, but rather “sensing as a service”. The way it works is as simple as effective: Airly sells compact and comparatively cheap sensors that measure how much particulate matters and harmful gases like NO2 are in the air. Based on these values, Airly evaluates the current air quality and uses AI-driven algorithms to, combine it with weather forecasts, and extrapolate this data to a prediction of air pollution for the next 24 hours. Of course, one sensor doesn’t do much – the power of Airly’s sensing lies in the network of locally measured values. Presently, the polish start-up uses 4,000 sensors in over 20 countries. Similar to Plume Labs, Airly pours all of their results into a global map of live air quality on its webpage. Users can view more detailed data in Airly’s app or understand it in its chronological context. The app also comes with other features like sending alerts in case of a sudden change in the air quality at the current location. Based on the collected and contextualized data, Airly helps governments, businesses, and local communities to interpret the results and act upon improving the local air quality. Since its foundation in 2016, the green tech company has supported numerous famous cities (Warsaw, Berlin, Birmingham, just to name a few) to measure and improve their air quality – and the network is continuously growing. Airly recently raised $5.5M of investments, showing how much innovative green approaches are valued. X1 WIND Unlike the very divisive topic of nuclear energy, wind energy faces little to no debate when it comes to the future of energy. This is because wind energy can potentially generate electricity all day long, although it works better in some places than in others. Offshore and marine regions have proven to be particularly productive. Only it is not as easy to set up a heavy wind turbine, packed with high-end technology, in these locations as it is on land. Barcelona-based X1 WIND ( https://www.x1wind.com/ ) has addressed this issue by creating a self-aligning floating design that reduces the weight of conventional turbines and minimizes installation and maintenance costs. This should help make floating wind turbines competitive and an attractive choice for the expansion of renewable energy. The platform created by X1 WIND looks quite innovative. It uses a novel single-point mooring (SPM) system, called PivotBuoy®, integrated into a downwind configuration that allows the platform to passively orient itself according to the weather. The downwind configuration enables a complete redesign of the floating structure, removing the presence of a traditional tower and providing a very lightweight, pyramid-shaped form that allows for more efficient load transfer. Naturally, the reliability of wind turbines is even more important offshore than it is on land. Therefore, X1 WIND has implemented passive systems in its platform to minimize the need for maintenance. In addition, a special anchoring system ensures that the turbine's movements are reduced, which decreases material fatigue and generally facilitates the maintenance work that may be required at some point. X1 WIND's motto is "disrupting offshore wind" and the Spanish company, founded in 2017, is well on its way to doing just that. The young company says it's very proud to have attracted top talent with diverse backgrounds, such as mechanical, civil, and electrical engineering, but also aviation and shipbuilding, and strategy. We think it's great that European tech companies are becoming so successful soon after their founding and can demonstrate pioneering concepts. This was our summary of companies on the European continent that appear to us as shining examples in terms of eco-friendly products, business models, or actions. As mentioned in the introduction, there are for sure companies off this list that stand out in terms of their solutions or actions. However, we wanted to present as diverse an impression as possible of how green the tech scene in Europe is and how distinct the many initiatives are. There are fintech companies like Tomorrow that want to reinvent banking by making it sustainable. There are companies in the traditional IT sector, such as Paessler, that are committed to new goals and want to use their core competence to help preserve the climate. And there are young European tech startups like Seaborg or X1 WIND that are not afraid to rethink sustainable energy production. These examples give us the courage to look into the future with a little more peace of mind. Because if the tech scene is known for one thing, it's for taking its cues from successful models and shaping the future with confidence and a spirit of innovation. If you want to stay up to date with exciting articles from the international tech world, you should subscribe to our popular Network-King newsletter ( https://network-king.net/subscribe/ ).