cleantech insights

The Week in Cleantech – Oct. 22-28


The solar sector got a much needed lift last week as BrightSource Energy raised $80 million in a growth equity round from existing investors. The company, which pulled its planned IPO back in April citing unfavorable market conditions, said it plans to expand “geographic partnerships to build solar thermal power plants in India and Australia”, while construction at its Ivanpah project in southern California continues.

Companies in the solar sector, which generally sees most of its equity capital go to supporting photovoltaics applications, raised only $70 million in the entire third quarter as overcapacity in PV module manufacturing continues to strangle that market. In the latest examples of necessary consolidation, Bankrupt organic PV developer Konarka Technologies‘ solar cell manufacturing assets were acquired by German solar project developer Belectric, while Siemens announced last week that it would give up its solar business and focus its renewable energy portfolio on wind and hydro power.

Elsewhere in venture capital, peer-to-peer apartment renter Airbnb raised $117 million last week. The company’s platform falls under the purview of cleantech as it is one of many encouraging resource sharing. Much like car-sharing platforms that are now all the rage, renting out one’s home for …


No Summit? No problem!


Cleantech Group’s Water Innovation Summit, which was held last month at the Claremont Resort in Berkeley, CA, was an intimate, invite-only event.  While this unfortunately means that not everyone could make it, it also means we were able to conduct extremely focused and productive conversations around some of today’s hottest topics in water.  As an avid supporter of the Water industry, I thought it would be valuable to collect my thoughts and takeaways from the event in a whitepaper – “Water Innovation Summit: A Confluence of Minds.”  For those of you who missed the Summit, you can find the Executive Summary and a link to download the *free* whitepaper below.  In addition to providing an overview of the key Summit themes and events, I have attempted to include some personal and firm insight on the key issues in Water.

Executive Summary

  • Innovation at a water utility is driven by (at least) 3 C’s: Cost, Crisis, and Cool.
    • While all three C’s are of significant importance to a utility, Crisis culled the most attention as growing populations force water providers to seek new sources of water.
    • Within these broad parameters lie a world of other innovation opportunities – emerging markets (

New white paper showcases learnings from Water Innovation Summit

Whitney Michael

Today we released a whitepaper covering the findings from September’s invitation-only Water Innovation Summit.

The report touches on the utility perspective on innovation, smart water networks, financing innovation, sustainable water management in the oil and gas sector, opportunities in water and agriculture, and securing clean water for industries.  Download the whitepaper for free.

The Water Innovation Summit was held as part of Cleantech Group’s ongoing effort to support the water technology community. The key takeaways and learnings covered in the report include:

  • Innovation at a water utility is driven by 3 C’s: Cost, Crisis, and Cool.
  • “Water as a Service” is a new and innovative business model that can help entrepreneurs sell to conservative, financially-strapped water utilities.
  • We are shifting from an ‘era of water development’ to an ‘era of water allocation’ (water rights).
  • The water-energy nexus is more than ever appropriately the water-energy-food nexus.
The 2013 Water Innovation Summit is scheduled for September 10-11.  While invitations will not go out until Summer 2013, you can request an invitation today.  Additional information on water innovation investment trends and the companies involved in this market can be found in Cleantech Group’s i3 market intelligence platform.…

The Week in Cleantech – Oct 15 – 21


Cleantech venture investment was down last week as companies raised just over $28 million across 5 venture deals. Perhaps giving investors pause was news that darling lithium ion battery maker A123 Systems‘ deal with its would-be new majority owner Wanxiang Group in fact would not go through, and the company instead filed for bankruptcy. Seeing an opportunity in the rubble was US-based industrial equipment and building efficiency leader Johnson Controls, which announced a bid to acquire A123′s automotive business and provide financing for the company’s continued operations during bankruptcy. All told Johnson Controls’ investment in the distressed battery maker is estimated at $197.5 million, should it go through.

Gridstore, a provider of efficient data center solutions based in Mountain View, CA, raised $12.5 million in its Series A round from GGV Capital and ONSET Ventures. The company intends to use the capital to expand its sales channels and accelerate the delivery of its data storage solutions.

Alga Energy, an Italian company that aims to generate electricity through combustion of algal oil, raised $3.8 million in its Series A from Sviluppo Imprese Centro Italia.

And finally Open Energi, a UK-based provider of demand response …

The Week in Cleantech – Oct 8-14


We saw several interesting deals announced and partnerships formed in cleantech last week.

In public offerings, EleFirst Science & Technology, a Nanjing, China based manufacturer and developer of smart meter reading systems and software solutions, raised RMB 394 million ($62.6 million) when it listed its IPO on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange at RMB 18.18 per share.

In venture capital, investors last week seemed bullish on energy efficiency and transportation-related ventures. In energy efficient data centers, Calxeda raised $55 million in a growth equity round from Battery Ventures, Austin Ventures and others. Meanwhile two companies, Connecticut based Emme and Californian company EcoFactor, each raised rounds for their home energy management solutions.

And in clean transportation, San Francisco, CA based ride-sharing network operator SideCar raised $10 million in its Series A round from Google Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Meanwhile, Tesla received a grant from the California Energy Commission to help it build its ‘Model X’ electric SUV and INRIX, a developer of a predictive traffic analysis solution to reduce congestion, frustration, and emissions, speculated a $100 million IPO for early 2013.

In M&A, Ecolab, the water & wastewater treatment giant that acquired Nalco last summer …

Cleantech Venture Activity Hanging Around in 3Q12

Hans Chen

We have just released the preliminary data on global venture activity within the cleantech space during 3Q 2012. Worldwide clean technology venture investment in the quarter totaled $1.56 billion. Measured by dollars invested, cleantech venture investment dropped only slightly compared to the previous quarter ($1.60 billion), but was off 30 percent from 3Q11 ($2.23 billion). The number of deals recorded in 3Q12 was 148, compared to 169 in 2Q12. You can find the full press release here. i3 subscribers can find the webinar slides and recording here.

The number may not look overly impressive, but taken into consideration that we are still under the influence of “headwinds” in cleantech (mentioned in the release last quarter) and approaching the epicenter of a presidential election, I believe that most of us would say these are solid numbers. Venture investors have proved skeptics wrong once again in 3Q 2012 that innovation in cleantech was (and probably never will be) not overlooked. Though there were “only” 148 venture deals in cleantech during the quarter, the total dollar amount roughly stayed put at $1.56 billion, with 91% of the deals having a disclosed dollar amount (compared to 75-80% average during the past few …

The Week in Cleantech – Oct 1-7


The fourth quarter started off on a good note last week. Cleantech companies raised just over $77 million dollars in private capital across 13 deals. The total dollar amount is actually higher as four of those deals went undisclosed.

The real news on the week was in the market for cleantech IPOs, however. Fleetmatics, an Irish company providing fleet vehicle tracking and management software-as-a-service (SaaS), listed its shares on the NYSE at the top end of its proposed range and raised an estimated $94.3 million in the process. The company’s shares jumped on its first day as a publicly traded company. Its shares rose by 35% to $22.95 from the $17 offer price. Fleetmatics had previously raised $68 million in private capital from Institutional Venture Partners, Investcorp, and NewWorld Capital Group.

And SolarCity filed for its much anticipated IPO on Friday. The company hopes to raise $201.25 million by listing its shares on the NASDAQ under the symbol “SCTY”. The low price of solar panels, though catastrophic for many manufacturers, has given a lift to the installation industry and SolarCity has spent years expanding into new markets across the United States. Private investors in the company …

Big News. We Are Merging With GreenOrder!

Greg Neichin

Dear friends, family, and colleagues who have only heard from me sporadically during the last month,

I want to sincerely apologize and finally explain why your emails and voicemails have sat unreturned beneath a mountain of backlog.  The truth is that we have been furiously scrambling to the finish line of what is a genuinely transformative corporate deal!!

Today, we are announcing the merger of Cleantech Group with GreenOrder, one of the best-known sustainability consulting firms in the country.  Together we will become one, new company dedicated to uniting the worlds of sustainability and cleantech innovation.

I will spare you a discussion of “synergies” and other press approved corporate-speak (you can find the official press release here if that type of stuff interests you).  I will get to the heart of why I am so excited about the potential for our newly formed company.

#1 We will make cleantech more relevant in corporate boardrooms: Helping to lead the Cleantech Group over the past three years, I have had a ringside seat to watch the clean technology sector develop.  I have watched breakthrough products come to life only to find them relegated to small, pilot demonstrations.  I have seen renewable …

The Week in Cleantech – Sept 24 – 30


An exciting week in cleantech wrapped up the third quarter last week, with several companies raising private capital and several interesting partnerships formed.

Fisker Automotive, which speculated as recently as August about completing an initial public offering in 2013, raised $103 million in a private growth equity round from existing investors. It is the third round of growth equity funding the company has raised in 2012 amid recalls of its first model, the Karma, and struggles to secure the right CEO.

Tesla, another maker of electrified vehicles but already a public one, announced it would seek to raise up to $221 million in a third public offering of its shares. The company has struggled to generate demand for its high-end EVs, while also having difficulty meeting production quotas for those customers who have pre-reserved vehicles.

Several cleantech startups raised Seed or Series A rounds during the week. Brisbane Materials, an Australian company developing advanced coating materials for the solar PV industry among others, raised $5.2 million from New Venture Partners and Southern Cross Venture Partners. Other companies raising early stage equity during the week (For brevity’s sake, I’ll list the company along with its (sector), and …

2012 Global Cleantech 100 list announced!

Whitney Michael

We’ve just released this year’s list of the top 100 private companies in cleantech.  From energy efficiency, biofuels & biochemicals to smart grid, renewable energy, water and waste, and transportation, this list identifies the private cleantech companies most likely to make a significant market impact over the next five to ten years.

To qualify for the Global Cleantech 100, companies must be independent, for-profit, cleantech companies not listed on any major stock exchange. This year, we received over 8,000 nominations for 5,117 companies from 85 countries. A 75-member expert panel, including leading global investors and a wide range of corporate executives from multi-national enterprises such as ABB, BP, Ecolab, GE, General Motors, IBM, Intel, Johnson Controls, Procter and Gamble, and Vestas, gave input on the shortlisted 236, to get to the final list of 100 companies from 13 countries.

Cleantech Group also presented awards in eight categories to clean technology innovators at the Global Cleantech 100 Gala at the Italian Embassy in Washington, DC on October 1.

Company of the Year was awarded in each of three regions to the highest-ranked company with no …