cleantech insights

The Week in Cleantech – March 18 – 24


The cleantech community gathered in San Francisco last week, with entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, and country delegations from around the globe descending on the city by the bay for our eleventh annual Cleantech Forum. We hope you won’t mind us shamelessly tooting our own horn, but this year’s Forum was one of our best. Distinguished speakers including former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Google’s Rick Needham, and outside-the-box architect William McDonough gave inspiring speeches, while sector-focused panels and investor pitch sessions occasioned important face-to-face meetings between clean technology innovators and the folks with the capital needed to scale the technologies and business models at the cutting edge. We hope you’ll join us April 16-18 at Cleantech Forum Europe in Bilbao for more of the same. Register today!

Congratulations to Sunfunder, winner of the ‘Cleantech Goes Social” Facebook App contest, and Tellus Technology, winner of the Entrepreneur Showcase investor pitch sessions!

The party didn’t stop deals from getting done, as we saw several exciting announcements during the week. The Westly Group announced the close of a new $160 million all-cleantech venture capital fund, constituting a doubling-down on the sector just as many VCs are turning away. Israeli venture firm Terra


It’s a Wrap: SF Forum 2013, Our Best Yet

Greg Neichin

After some well deserved toasts with our staff and a few good night’s sleep, I have finally begun to digest the amazing week that we just had in San Francisco.  I have had the pleasure of co-hosting Cleantech Group’s San Francisco Forum for the past three years, yet none of those previous gatherings came close to the energy and dynamism of this year’s event.

I have to admit that the turnout and enthusiasm surprised even me.  This was supposed to be a year that cleantech was down and out.  With venture support cooling, solar manufacturers failing, and the global economy still sputtering, this would not, on the face of it, be the best time to throw a cleantech party.

But throw a party we did; and much to our delight and sincere appreciation, you all showed up.  Not only did you grab a glass of champagne, but investors announced new capital commitments, corporate dealmakers spoke openly about opportunity areas, and entrepreneurs from around the world unveiled brand new companies.

What gives? With some time to reflect, I think that there were four key drivers that really ignited this year’s Forum.

#1 – Corporate strategics get it and are playing

Moving the needle – The Cleantech Group sees water rising

Guest Contributor Laura Shenkar Artemis Water Strategy

Guest Post by Laura Shenkar, Founder and Principal, Artemis Water Strategy

Water and Waste Water Stage of Investment 2012-- Cleantech Group

Early-stage investment dollars are like yeast for a start-up.  There hasn’t been much of that kind of yeast in water tech, but some industry experts see momentum building for the future.  Early-stage investment is drying up throughout the cleantech sector. (See the graph above.)

However, there is a bit of sunshine bursting through these cloudy financial skies.  Worldwide venture investment in water is rising, and rising in contrast to other green technologies.  While overall investment in cleantech sectors went down by 30% last year, water tech investment went up by 34%. Water was US$355 M of the US$6.8 B in cleantech investment in 2012, with 68 deals worldwide out of the 806 . The Cleantech Group identified water as one of the three most promising areas for cleantech investment during 2012. Cleantech Group CEO Sheeraz Haji sees water as one of the sectors set to grow dramatically in 2013.

Artemis is seeing this drought of  early-stage investment hitting the most promising water tech companies hard.  Private equity firms, corporate investors and  small family funds are emerging as a decisive force.  News about each new investment builds the view of

The Week in Cleantech – March 11 – 17


Last week was an exciting one in the world of clean technology. The long awaited initial public offering of smart grid networking company Silver Spring Networks was held on Wednesday at $17 per share, the midpoint of the planned range, generating $81 million in net proceeds. The IPO was oversubscribed, with Silver Spring issuing around 1 million more shares than it had planned. Following on the back of SolarCity’s IPO in December, Silver Spring’s successful float represented more good news for the sector, showing continuing improvement in public markets’ appetite for cleantech stocks.

Suntech Power, one of the world’s largest producers of solar panels, was acquired in a bailout scenario by its local municipal government in China. Wuxi Guolian Development Group, the state-owned holding company of China’s Wuxi province, came to the distressed solar company’s rescue after the global over-supply of silicon and panels took their toll on this manufacturing giant.

In venture capital, several companies raised rounds during the week. From the Energy Efficiency sector, Alphabet Energy raised $16 million in a Series B round from Canadian natural gas producer Encana, Claremont Creek Ventures, TPG Biotech, and the California Clean Energy Fund. Alphabet Energy …

Autodesk Innovates by Seeking Unconventional Cleantech Partnerships

Emily Chan

In 2009, Susan Gladwin, Senior Global Program Manager at Autodesk launched the Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program with the objective to assist cleantech startups through deployment of Autodesk digital prototyping software.

As Autodesk’s cleantech initiative global lead, Susan Gladwin is responsible for leading the company’s cleantech program and industry strategy. In this role, Ms. Gladwin manages Autodesk’s partnerships with cleantech companies and stakeholders in North America, Europe, and Asia, and tracks the sector’s sustainability best practices.

Recently, Ms. Gladwin spoke with Emily Chan, sustainability strategist at Cleantech Group about Autodesk’s role in Cleantech Forum’s Entrepreneur Showcase in San Francisco and the company’s approach to driving sustainable technology adoption. At the upcoming Cleantech Forum, Susan Gladwin will also sit on the panel, ROI Meets H2O: In Search of Real Value in the Water Technology Market, a session that will explore market opportunities for innovative water technologies.

E.C.: Autodesk is sponsoring the Entrepreneur Showcase at Cleantech Forum San Francisco 2013.  What does Autodesk look for when selecting clean technology partners?

S.G.: We believe that partnering with clean technology innovators can play a major role in bringing clean technology products and solutions to market faster and more profitably, thereby accelerating solutions …

The S-Curve Indicator: Week of March 11, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is 67 billion kilowatthours, which is the difference between summer and winter residential electricity demand, according to the Energy Information Agency. This “peak” is more than twice as large as the seasonal peaks for commercial customers, and nearly four times as large for industrial customers. These findings show the critical need for demand response programs targeted at residential customers, a space where vendors are beginning to offer more sophisticated solutions.

Electric-powered air conditioners are by far the biggest contributor to peak demand, so direct load control of HVAC systems is a key priority. So far, the results for utilities in direct load control have been mixed. According to E-Source, the average participation rate in residential programs is only 12%. Faced with these low participation rates, vendors are doubling down on outreach to the residential market. Smart thermostat provider Honeywell and energy efficiency giant Opower recently announced that they will team up to provide a user-friendly, integrated energy platform for both demand response and energy efficiency. On the other side of the meter, Aclara’s ENERGYprism platform helps utilities identify customers who are most likely to have a significant impact through demand response programs. The trend …

The Week in Cleantech – March 4 – 10


It was an exciting week in Cleantech, with M&A and partnership activity, as well as several early-stage company financings.

CIGS thin film PV maker NuvoSun was acquired by Dow Chemical last week for an undisclosed sum. Dow had previously invested in the company, which will now operate as a wholly owned subsidiary. Though terms were not disclosed, it is safe to assume this was no blockbuster deal. And the consolidation of small CIGS thin film firms into large industrials underscores the pain thin film producers have felt as their technologies continue to face stiff competition from dirt-cheap conventional silicon PV.

In partnership news, ECOtality and ChargePoint announced last week their collaboration to ensure interoperability of EV charging networks. The companies have formed Collaboratev, LLC, which will seek to make billing and authentication easier for EV drivers.

In venture capital, several companies received funding last week. Utility Funding, a UK company providing smart meters to utilities on rental terms, received £7.5 million ($11.2 million) from Foresight Group. The week also saw several ealry-stage funding rounds, with companies like Parking Panda (Transportation), Gridtential Energy (Energy Storage), Puralytics (Water & Wastewater), and Lucid Energy (Hydro & Marine Power) announcing Seed or …

The Week in Cleantech – Feb. 25 – Mar. 3


Highlights tracked last week on Cleantech Group’s i3 Platform:

Smart grid icon Silver Spring Networks filed again with regulators for an initial public offering. This time, the company plans to raise up to $66.7 million – less than half the $150 million it targeted in 2011 before its withdrawal. The terms of the planned IPO would value the company at $754 million at the midpoint of its $16-18 per share range. The company has raised about $275 million in private capital to date, from investors including Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Google Ventures. Foundation plans to purchase $12 million of common stock in a private placement at the offering price.

OneRoof Energy followed the lead of other downstream solar giants last week, closing on a $100 million project fund with support from Morgan Stanley and Main Street Power Company. The fund will provide third-party financing for OneRoof’s residential rooftop solar PV installations, and puts the company on more level footing with companies like SolarCity, Clean Power Finance, and Sunrun, which have also raised such third-party funds.

In M&A news, smart water company Xylem acquired Australian company …