Today more companies realize that business resiliency and sustainability intersect, where risks, benefits and opportunities are becoming more pertinent. When reassessing the Cleantech landscape, it is no secret that Green-tech investment has declined to the point where almost all funding in 2013 has been in follow up businesses. Almost none have been in initial portfolios.
The Cleantech domain is quite complex and, like with any industry, it represents several sectors. Energy, for example, encompasses generation, distribution, renewable sources, storage, smart grid, efficiency, management tools, electric vehicles, buildings, and more. Energy is a concern to all societies, however, it is a myth to view energy solutions as global, since specific models need to be fitted by geography. In the U.S., energy is a national security issue and energy is relatively cheap. In Europe, energy has an environmental focus and is not as cheap as in North America. In developing countries, on the other hand, energy is a matter of economic growth.
Although, this phenomenon is not just in energy, the un-globalization of energy problems and solutions complicates opportunities for investors. While innovations and new ideas were abundant in 2012 and 2013, investors targeted fewer portfolios and focused on 'safer' and successful propositions. Investors and experts at the Next Wave Greentech Media Conference this week drew a more optimistic picture of the future funding landscape. Presenters from various investment companies and institutions discussed how some investors and entrepreneurs are taking new approaches of Cleantech sectors, exploring new investment models, partnerships versus own development, strategic alliances, as well as of sources of capital.
As we approach the last quarter of 2013, the following successful companies were mentioned, indicating in dollar their market value:
First solar - $ 3.6 billion
Tesla Motors - $ 20 billion
Silver Springs Networks - $ 1 billion
Solazyme - $ 0.7 billion
Solar City - $ 2.6 billion
SunPower - $ 2.6 billion
EnerNOC - $ 0.5 billion
Other successes included:
Where do future opportunities lie?
Investors reported an in these sectors:
- Solar finance - Cost of renewables is decreasing; the 'soft' costs are the next area for improvement
- Waste to value - Cost of waste management increasing and innovations are needed
- Agriculture techs - Agriculture efficiency
- Software platforms/apps - In particular grid security
- Software services - In the energy efficiency realm
Catalysis of new business models and information technology (IT) present a new frontier. Cleanweb is another area that has gotten attention. Cleanweb markets refer to applying web, mobile and social media technologies to resource constraint issues, such as energy, waste, transportation, and water efficiency. Here, Green-tech, mobile, cloud platforms, big data, analytics models, and Internet technologies converge in order to provide solutions to current issues.
While computing capacity is growing exponentially and coming down in cost, Cleanweb presents compelling business and economic proposition. Teleconferencing offerings, for example, became more available, affordable and easy to use in the past few years. Utilizing teleconferencing has resulted in 30% less business-related travel. Other example are car-sharing business models, which have reduced CO2 emissions by close to 1/2 millions tons (in 2009).
Cleantech is an integral part of a resilient economy. Let’s compare the gas-lamp revolution in the 1800’s to mass adoption of electric vehicles (EVs): In the early 1800’s gas light technology spread quickly in the U.S. and by the time of Edison's 1879 electric (the incandescent bulb) lamp invention, gas lighting was a mature, well-established industry. The gas infrastructure was in place, franchises had been granted, and manufacturing facilities for both gas and equipment were in profitable operation. In addition, communities became accustomed to the idea of lighting with gas. Edison’s electric lighting system was modeled on the gas light technology in order to speed up adoption. In 1910, GE’s new bulbs, combined with the growing level of electrification in the country, with generator manufacturing, metering, and development of the electric infrastructure - effectively eliminated competition from gas lighting.
Can EVs replace gasoline combustion engines in a similar way that the incandescent bulb replaced gas-lamps?
1. The Cleantech Future Conference is designed to connect corporate executives, thought leaders, industry visionaries, government agencies, Green-tech entrepreneurs, investors and other players and focus the discussion on “The transition to a Sustainable Energy Future through Accelerated Deployment of Clean technologies Globally”.
The conference is scheduled in San Francisco, CA on November 4- 5, 2013 at the Fairmont Hotel.
The conference is organized by Clean Tech Connections, with sessions addressing “Breakthrough Capitalism and Corporate Change Leaders” and “Cleanweb - The Cleantech 4G era”. Presenters and attendees will explore how various cleantech views, deployment projects, and how to move forward.
For more information and the lineup of speakers, check www.cleantechfuture.com
2. Greentech Media (GTM) is a prominent media company headquartered in Boston, MA and has a West Coast office in San Francisco, CA. GTM generates research and news on the global green technology market and has several major focus areas: energy, renewables (solar, wind, more), smart grid, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, greeen buildings, green data centers, and more. For a complete list see GTM website (http://www.greentechmedia.com/ - scroll to the bottom to see all sectors).
GTM conferences and events: http://www.greentechmedia.com/events/conferences