cleantech insights

Cleantech Goes Social: Cleantech Group and Facebook challenge you to use social to accelerate cleantech

Sheeraz Haji

Cleantech products and services are inherently social. When my neighbors install solar panels on their roofs or buy an EV, they want to tell all their friends about it. Demonstrating how one is contributing to the broader public good by reducing their impact on the environment has become somewhat of a status symbol (at least in Berkeley!). However, the cleantech industry has not done a great job of using the web in creative ways to amplify the social aspects of cleantech products and services.

With that in mind, Cleantech Group and Facebook are excited to announce “Cleantech Goes Social,” a contest that aims to  harness the power of Facebook’s billion-person network to accelerate cleantech adoption and engage the public on sustainability issues. We are challenging cleantech companies and others to find new ways to use Facebook to accelerate cleantech, whether it’s through an app on the Facebook platform or a new method of integrating Facebook into products and services. We are asking contestants to tell us their story about how they will use Facebook to address energy and resources challenges, accelerate cleantech adoption, and engage the public in dialogue about sustainability issues.

The winner of the contest will …


The S-Curve Indicator: Week of January 28, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is 1,401 GW, which is the installed capacity of coal power plants planned globally as of July 2012, according to the World Research Institute. More than three-quarters of planned coal power capacity is located in China or India.

In this space, like many others, we’ve already mentioned the role of China and India in fueling coal demand at a time of record natural gas production. Perhaps more surprising is the high generation capacities planned in smaller countries like Turkey (ranked #4 globally), Vietnam (#5), and South Africa (#6). Affordable, reliable power is critical for economic growth. The planned expansion in these countries underscores the extent to which there are few mass-scale alternatives to coal for low- and middle-income countries. China and India may represent only the tip of the iceberg in terms of international coal demand.

This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s impacting the world of sustainability. Click here for more information about the S-Curve and our approach to environmental innovation.  This post was originally published on GreenOrder’s blog.

The Week in Cleantech – Jan. 21 – 27


Clean technology sectors including Energy Storage, Energy Efficiency, and Solar saw exciting new investments last week:

Leyden Energy‘s existing investors, including Lightspeed Venture Partners, NEA, Sigma Partners, and Walden International Venture Partners, all signed up to provide the company $10 million more in Series C equity capital. Leyden is seeking to commercialize new lithium-based battery technology, certain aspects of which it originally licensed from DuPont.

HVAC energy management software developer BuildingIQ gained two new corporate investors in Aster Capital and Siemens Venture Capital. Aster capital is a corporate venturing firm sponsored by Schneider Electric, Alstom, and Solvay. The investors combined to bring BuildingIQ $9 million in new equity capital.

The downstream solar market saw continued confidence from investors when OneRoof Energy, a residential PV financing and installation company based in California, raised $30 million in new capital from existing investor Hanwha Corporation. Hanwha has been extremely active of late, with investments in Silent Power and tenKsolar, as well as its acquisition of Q-Cells after that company’s insolvency. OneRoof Energy seeks to join the likes of SolarCity, SunRun, Sungevity, and Clean Power Finance with tax-equity-backed project funding to fuel its pipeline of residential …

The S-Curve Indicator: Week of January 21, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is 40 percent, which is roughly the percentage of Americans who say they are “not likely at all” to purchase a plug-in electric vehicle (EV), according to a study by Indiana University.  This was the lowest level of interest available for selection. Vehicle price and range were cited as the main barriers.

The study was hailed as bad news for the industry: “People not interested in EVs,” proclaimed Green Tech Media. There are some caveats to this assessment. First, the survey occurred a year ago, before many EV models were available. Second, the survey uncovered pockets of relatively high interest in areas like San Jose/San Francisco and Chicago, which may point to focus areas for EV deployment. However, the study underscores how important it is for industry not to fall victim to its own hype. Getting consumers comfortable with EVs, and ensuring that the appropriate infrastructure and pricing plans are in place, are still major hurdles to mass deployment.

Likelihood of plug-in EV purchase, distribution of respondents

Note: 1 is not at all likely and 10 is highly likely; Source: Indiana University

This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we

The Week in Cleantech – Jan. 14 – 20


It was an exciting week in clean technology, with several companies raising venture funding and some impactful M&A activity.

Arctic Sand, one of last year’s Cleantech Open competition standouts, announced $9.6 million in additional Series A funding. Existing investors Northwater Capital Management and Arsenal Venture Partners participated in the round, and were joined by new strategic investors Energy Technology Ventures (a joint venture involving ConocoPhillips, GE and NRG Energy) and Dialog Semiconductor.

Following on the back of SolarCity’s big IPO last month, solar financier and integrator Sungevity raised $125 million in new financing, split between project finance and new equity capital. The equity portion, at $40 million, and which the company began raising in January, 2012, included participation from new investors Craton Equity Partners, Vision Ridge Partners, and corporate strategic investor Lowe’s.

In France, hydrogen storage specialist McPhy Energy announced €10 million in new equity funding and its acquisition of Italian electrolysis pioneer PIEL. Half of the new funding came from the French Ecotechnologies fund, managed by CDC Enterprises, which was joined by existing investors including Emertec, Gimv, Soffinova Partners.

These were only a handful of the deals we tracked this week, …

What’s up with water going down?


Investments in water & wastewater technologies were on a supposedly unsustainable high during the first half of 2012.  The latter half of the year saw relatively minimal activity, accounting for just over 12% of total water dollars invested in 2012.  What happened?

According to preliminary data from Cleantech Group, the number of deals dropped significantly – hovering near 50 in 1H12 but falling to less than 20 in 2H12.  It seems investors lost all interest in supporting private companies focused on drinking water treatment, as I saw no deals tracked for pure filtration or disinfection technologies.  I also noted the absence of big money going towards service providers like Golden State Environment and Doshio, which together accounted for $80MM in growth equity in 1Q12.

Taking a look at the investments that were made, it is apparent that wastewater is continuing to garner significant attention, with nearly half of 2H12 investor dollars going towards companies involved in the treatment of industrial and/or municipal wastewater.  Reuse was one of the more prominent themes here, which comes as no surprise given the heightened anxiety around climate change (and its impact on water scarcity) in the aftermath of events like Hurricane Sandy and global …

The S-Curve Indicator: Week of January 14, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is $40 billion, which is the estimated cost for New York utility ConEd to bury all of its power lines. To recover the cost of this investment, rates for ConEd customers would need to triple for at least a decade.

Hurricane Sandy brought a renewed focus on tactics, such as burying power lines, for creating a more resilient grid. The goal of resiliency, however, is smacking up against the costly reality of major capital upgrades. As utility commissions and state legislatures debate the best financing methods, interest is growing in less costly, emerging technologies. It remains to be seen if this interest will translate into action for technologies like blackstart-enabled distributed generation and community battery storage. There are many regulatory, technological, and behavioral challenges to move from small demonstration pilots to grid-scale deployments for these technologies, but we can expect to see significant activity here over the coming months.

This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s impacting the world of sustainability. Click here for more information about the S-Curve and our approach to environmental innovation.  This post was originally published on GreenOrder’s blog.

The Week in Cleantech – Jan. 7 – 13


Investors and clean technology innovators jumped out of the 2013 gates last week with several exciting new investments and partnerships.

Streetline, a San Francisco-based provider of smart parking solutions that reduce traffic congestion in cities, announced the close of its Series C round at $25 million. The round included new investors True Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, and Citi, which had earlier provided a $25 million credit line to the company. The company intends to use the funding to expand its work with new cities, as well as to explore further connectivity of its network to the “internet of things”.

LED lighting specialist Digital Lumens raised a new Series C round at $10 million that it says it will use to expand internationally and into new sectors. The new funding came from existing investors, as Black Coral Capital, Flybridge Capital Partners, and Stata Venture Partners all signed up again.

In M&A, First Solar made its presence known in South America with its acquisition of project developer Solar Chile, while lighting giant Acuity Brands acquired Adura Technologies. Adura is a developer of lighting management systems based on low-power wireless mesh networking systems, and is backed by …

The S-Curve Indicator: Week of January 7, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is $3.19, which is the per Watt cost differential between residential solar panel installation in the U.S. and Germany. According to the study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the reasons for the gap are varied, but the added cost to customers is undeniable. The differential adds around $16,000 in additional costs for a typically-sized 5kW residential system.

Among many factors, the LBNL study highlights the scale of the German solar market (3x larger than the U.S.), customer acquisition costs (10x higher in the U.S.), and costs associated with grid connection (7x higher in the U.S.). This study demonstrates that driving down the cost of hardware is only one piece of the puzzle in making solar more accessible. Partnerships with retailers (such as the SolarCity/BestBuy collaboration) and utilities can drive down these “soft” costs.

This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s impacting the world of sustainability. Click here for more information about the S-Curve and our approach to environmental innovation.  This post was originally published on GreenOrder’s blog.

The Holidays in Cleantech – Dec. 17 – Jan. 6


Greetings roundup readers! This being our first Monday back from the holidays, we’ll focus this roundup on some of the deals that took place during our break. But first, we need to appropriately close out 2012. Last week we did this with our press briefing of preliminary Q4 and full-year investment monitor figures, in which we reported 2012 venture capital in clean technology totaling $6.46 billion across 704 deals. That represented a 33% and 15% decline from the robust numbers in 2011 by dollars and deal count, respectively, and a reset to near-2009 levels of VC activity. We see many forces influencing this drop, but we’ll spare this post the detail in favor of our 4Q/FY report, due out later in this first quarter. i3 subscribers can join us for a special client-focused investment webinar tomorrow, Tuesday morning at 8am PT/11am ET by signing up here.

The important thing to remember, however, is that venture capital investment is down across all sectors, not just cleantech. And though 2012 did see a steep decline, clean technology innovators march on. This was especially evident over the holiday break when, despite this correspondent’s best efforts to cease all activity in favor of …