cleantech insights

Cleantech in action: LEDs light up the “Night”

Whitney Michael

Last week after we wrapped up Cleantech Forum Munich, I got to spend a few days in the gorgeous city of Amsterdam. And in between Belgian beers and rediscovering the Golden Age of Amsterdam (the Dutch kinda ran the world for a while there…), I came face to face with clean technology in action, a real-life example of saving energy while improving performance.

In this case, I visited the Rijksmuseum and saw Rembrandt’s masterpiece, The Night Watch, illuminated by special LEDs provided by Philips, the lighting leader based in the Netherlands. According to a press release on the new lighting, installed in October 2011, the “innovative LED light, [brings] out the best of the painting’s color palette while offering increased sustainability and energy efficiency.”

Coming out of the dark galleries preceding the room that held this painting, the colors really did seem more vivid, and the LEDs brought out the contrasting areas of light and dark (chiaroscuro) that Rembrandt is known for.

Wikipedia claims that the museum saves 80% on energy and protects the painting from damage from UV radiation and heat. According to, “previously, the painting had been under halogen spotlights that had the …


Sustainability and Sports: A Whole New Ballgame

Team i3

Last Sunday, members of the Cleantech Group team were invited to beautiful AT&T Park in downtown San Francisco to watch the Giants play the Pittsburgh Pirates in an opening game sponsored by Hanwha Solar, the Korean PV cells and modules manufacturer. Emmanuel Burriss’ beautiful 9th-inning run (Go Giants!) was not the only remarkable feat of the night. Speeches by executives and a post-game fireworks show served as introductions to a new partnership between the team and Hanwha that includes PV installations and a recycling program in the stadium. If the actual amount of energy offset by the program is minor, the impact on public awareness – not to mention brand recognition for Hanwha – is substantial. Considering the unmatched worldwide audience that sports like baseball, football and soccer have, we decided to take a closer look at how cleantech companies and sports teams have partnered up and whether these partnerships are a good use of money and time.

The Giants’ upcoming Hanwha solar array isn’t the first green effort by a Major League Baseball team. A number of teams have undertaken renewable energy, recycling & waste and energy efficiency measures.

  • The Giants have previously partnered with PG&E to install

Water: Week in Review


Veolia is keeping itself busy with new contracts and existing lawsuits, while Groupon is showing interest in water – the company recently teamed up with a nonprofit to raise money for water quality testing at California beaches.  Details on these stories, and more, can be found below.

M&A/ Partnerships


  • The US Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a $10.75m contract to design-build firm McMillen to

Who will make the 2012 top global 100 list? It’s your turn to tell us who’s hot, who’s not.

Whitney Michael

This morning at Cleantech Forum Europe in Munich, our Managing Director of Europe & Asia, Richard Youngman, announced that nominations are open for the Global Cleantech 100.  This will be our 4th annual list of the 100 top private companies in cleantech as nominated by the public and chosen through a rigorous process including data analysis and input from a select panel of worldwide judges.  Read the press release.

Nominations are open through June 30.

As with last year’s list, Cleantech Group will debut the 2012 100 at the Global Cleantech 100 Summit & Gala in Washington DC.  The Summit & Gala will be held October 1-2 and will feature Global Cleantech 100 CEOs, investors and venture capitalists, policy-makers and corporate leaders.   Save the date and submit your nominations today.

Registration for the Global Cleantech 100 Summit & Gala opens in May.…

2012 kicks off with major moves in the small world of energy efficiency finance

kerry cebul

In our final Quarterly Investment Monitor of 2011, I highlighted the year’s incredible upsurge of interest in energy efficiency financing, and predicted that 2012 would be a proving period when bets are placed, and programs and companies either mature or wilt. The first quarter of 2012 has already shown this to be true with the acquisition of Transcend Equity by SCIenergy, the re-repivoting of Serious Energy away from financing, and the likes of Deutsche Bank weighing in on financing in earnest with a detailed report on the subject.

Before diving into 2012, a brief review of several efficiency financing news highlights of 2011: the White House launched its $4 billion Better Buildings Challenge; Barclays, Ygrene Energy, and the Carbon War Room announced the delivery of turnkey Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program development; and Serious Energy joined Metrus Energy, Transcend Equity, and other financiers by formally launching its Managed Energy Services Agreement style financing program and pivoting to providing energy efficiency as a service.

For a space with only a handful of key players, 2012 started off with two key bangs. The first is the acquisition of Transcend Equity by SCIenergy, a provider of building energy efficiency …

The early bird gets the worm…


I see it all the time – a great idea, turned into a product, gone through a testing process, and earned certification….but now what?  So often, innovators don’t know where to turn when seeking partners for pilot testing.  And so often, they eventually run out of money and take their technologies and ideas elsewhere.  In an effort to keep the innovation within Water & Wastewater, I’d like to highlight a few water utilities that have “lent a helping hand” to entrepreneurs – and come away with successful contracts.

American Water – Four of American Water’s utilities were offered up for piloting new smart grid technology from ENBALA Power.  The technology aimed to increase efficiencies, thereby reducing energy and water usage, and ultimately, costs.  This was done through demand response – an energy management program that allows users to earn revenue if and when electricity consumption is reduced during peak demand hours.  The two companies announced a formal partnership in the fall of 2011.

Clean Water Services – The Oregon water resources management utility implemented technology from Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies at a pilot project, and made plans to build a full-scale plant that utilized the new technology if …

Global venture investment declines, but corporates step up and the IPO window cracks open

Sheeraz Haji

Venture capitalists might be running short of cash. This past quarter (Q1 2012), global venture capital investments declined 19% from the prior quarter and 31% year-over-year (see our press release here). On a brighter note, the total number of deals recorded in the quarter was 185, up from 176 in Q4 2011, and the tally will rise again once we round up other investors who have not yet reported all their deals for the quarter.

Despite an investor bias towards later-stage investing, early stage deals increased this quarter. The proportion of early stage deals increased from 37% (Q1 2011) to 44% (Q1 2012). The absolute number of early stage deals increased from 67 in Q4 2011 to 81 this past quarter. Huh? What’s going on? I think investors are creating a “barbell effect” – favoring hot early stage deals with repeat entrepreneurs and capital efficient business models as well as later-stage companies that already have a proven product and business model (e.g. SolarCity). In the middle, life is tougher. These “in the middle” Series B and Series C companies already have institutional investors but often are still working to remove technology and market risk from their business. They …