cleantech insights

Recession continues to pound recycling efforts

Emma Ritch

If the higher price of recycling doesn’t fly in eco-conscious Berkeley, Calif., is there any hope for other cities? The Cleantech Group’s Emma Ritch weighs in.


The rise of water footprinting

Mia Javier

Water footprinting is taking off but for today, there are still limitations, according to the Cleantech Group’s Mia Javier.

The measurement of carbon footprinting has changed the game for industrial users of energy. Now, water footprinting is poised to do the same for many of those same players.

A water footprint is an indicator of water use that considers the amount of direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. The development of a standard methodology for calculating such a footprint aims to enable the sustainable management of water – a critical, at-risk resource.

SABMiller and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are two entities emerging as pioneers in water footprinting. The two organizations jointly published a case study of the UK-based beverage giant’s identified water risk exposure in the beer brewing value chain.

The study revealed that the vast majority of the water footprint of one liter of beer is used in the agricultural cultivation phase, which then varied widely by differing country climates and whether the crops relied on irrigation or rainfall. Operations in the Czech Republic yielded a water footprint 244 percent greater than the same unit of product in South Africa – indeed very different …

Commercial buildings get a brain

Emma Ritch

Energy efficiency is a hot topic for the commercial building space. But not all solutions are equal, explains the Cleantech Group’s Emma Ritch.

Bridgelux reveals corporate partner and new LED light

Emma Ritch

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based LED developer Bridgelux plans to announce tomorrow a new strategic corporate partnership that could reduce the cost and time to market for its solid-state lighting (SSL) products.

CEO Bill Watkins told the Cleantech Group that Bridgelux has jointly developed the Helieon Sustainable Light Module with Lisle, Ill.-based Molex (Nasdaq:MOLX), a 71-year-old manufacturer of electronic, electrical and fiber optic interconnection systems.

The partners created a fixture-mounted light-emitting diode (LED) product that is sold to lamp and lighting fixture companies to incorporate in luminaires.

The product is geared toward general illumination, a $100 billion per year opportunity. Despite the LED sector’s promise of a potential 80 percent reduction in energy use compared to standard incandescent lighting, the sector has made small progress in gaining market share because of the high upfront costs and unique design requirements.

Watkins and Mike Picini, Molex’s vice president of solid-state lighting, said this product could be a game-changer because it is between 30 percent and 50 percent lower in cost than comparable downlighting LED technologies. Watkins also said the product has several advantages over compact fluorescent lighting, which he described as “crappy design, lousy light, and it has mercury and lead.”

The deal …

Digital Lumens lifts veil on new lighting technology

Emma Ritch

Boston, Mass.-based Digital Lumens emerged from stealth today with a new lighting control technology aimed at reducing energy use in warehouses and industrial facilities.

Digital Lumens calls its technology the Intelligent Lighting System, combining light-emitting diodes (LEDs), networking and software for a whole systems approach—unlike lighting technology companies that aim to make a single component, such as a bulb, more efficient.

Key to Digital Lumens’ technology is new LED-based fixtures that have built-in computing, sensing and intelligence to improve integration and central control.

Lighting is an important element of energy efficiency projects, with the U.S. Department of Energy estimating that lighting accounts for up to 30 percent of energy use in commercial buildings.

Energy efficiency is one of the fastest growing cleantech sectors for VC investment, with companies pulling in $1 billion in 2009, up 39 percent from the prior year, according to Cleantech Group data. Of that $1 billion, lighting raked in $299 million in 34 deals, accounting for 5.26 percent of all venture money to cleantech.

Digital Lumens raised $11.3 million in two rounds in 2009 from investors including Flybridge Capital Partners, Stata Venture Partners and Black Coral Capital (see Energy efficiency rules week’s cleantech roost).

The …

The rise of cleantech in South Korea

Emma Ritch

Massive commercial opportunities are being created for corporations, investors and service providers in this hidden gem of cleantech in Asia, explains the Cleantech Group’s Emma Ritch.

Coda Auto: $40M more before EV launch

Emma Ritch

Fresh off the heels of a $24 million funding round in July 2009, Santa Monica, Calif.-based Coda Automotive told the Cleantech Group that it’s seeking $40 million prior to launching sales of electric vehicles later this year.

Coda’s electric sedan is expected to go 90 to 100 miles off a single charge, with top speeds of 80 miles per hour, said CFO Dan Mosher, speaking on the sidelines of the Cleantech Forum XXVI in San Francisco last week.

Coda plans to control distribution by opening retail stores in key locations, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. The initial focus is the U.S. market, where government incentives will reduce the price per vehicle to between $30,000 to $35,000—lower than its initial target of $45,000 (see Two White House alumni join $24M round for Coda). The company hopes to reach sales of about 20,000 vehicles a year.

With about two and a half years under its belt, Coda’s key contribution to the vehicle comes in the thermal and battery management technologies, Mosher said. The thermal management system helps regulate the temperature of components even when the vehicle is off, improving its operations in cold or hot climates, Mosher said.

The 33.8-kilowatt-hour …