| January 18th 2013
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 …
by Sam Shrank
| December 13th 2012
Since setting up auto-pay the day I moved into my apartment, I’ve given no thought to my utility bill. Given that my job is to analyze and advise utilities, I’d venture to say most people are no more engaged. However, with an evolving set of customer offerings—energy efficiency (EE), alternative fuel vehicles, demand response, and the like—many utilities are realizing that they may require better, different, or more communication. In short, they are discovering what it means to sell.
And not only are they beginning to market things customers may not feel they need, they now have competitors as well, particularly in the EE market. Various other entities are looking to advise large electricity and gas users about how to lower their bills and provide help with financing, sell devices directly to customers that increase automation and control, or take over the utility’s role as the provider of EE offerings funded through utility bill surcharges. All of these reduce both the direct benefit to utilities from performance incentives and the indirect benefits from higher customer satisfaction, improved regulatory relationships, and perceived leadership.
Mining the extensive body of knowledge on consumer behavior provides insight on how utilities can more effectively communicate …
| December 3rd 2012
I spent Thanksgiving week traveling through Thailand. It was my first trip there, and hopefully not my last – the country is amazing! I love the people, the culture, the food, the views….and the free bottled water? Yes, you read that correctly – free bottled water. In Thailand, it is standard to receive 2-3 complimentary bottles of water in your hotel room, despite assurance from the government that the tap water is safe to drink. As most tourists do, I erred on the side of “better safe than sorry”, and took the bottled water. Though I must admit, I was somewhat ashamed to do so.
Isn’t the tap water in Thailand subject to WHO guidelines for drinking water quality, which would ensure that I am protected from harmful contaminants? Doesn’t the organization pride itself on “producing international norms on water quality and human health in the form of guidelines that are used as the basis for regulation and standard setting, in developing and developed countries world-wide”? Indeed it does, but I overlooked the difference between a guideline and a requirement – an extremely important distinction. Guidelines are mere recommendations or targets that help ensure the quality of …
by Jill Bunting
| November 19th 2012
This week’s index number is 2017, which, according to the International Energy Agency, is the year the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer. The U.S. is projected to be a net exporter of oil by 2030.
These developments will create a cloudy horizon for stakeholders invested in improving environmental performance. With U.S. energy “independence” within sight, we may see a renewed focus on energy efficiency standards and programs aimed at pushing the U.S. over the line. At the same time, low prices and a sense of plentiful reserves could depress efforts to develop fossil fuel alternatives. This is particularly relevant for countries like China and India, where lower prices for oil and gas will also put downward pressure on the price of imported coal.
This is the first entry in our new weekly series, The S-Curve Index, 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.…
by Yakov Berenshteyn
| November 9th 2012
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we’ve seen a renewed focus in the media on climate change. As it so often does, the conversation points to technology as a lever for both mitigation and adaptation.
Microgrids in particular are suddenly top of mind again, covered in MIT Technology Review, Fast Company, Christian Science Monitor, and Huffington Post in a span of just five days. These pieces praise microgrids for enabling distributed renewables (mitigation) and taking critical customers like hospitals off the main power grid in emergencies (adaptation).
While we applaud any effort to raise awareness of clean technology, it’s important not to have a knee-jerk response to climate events like Sandy. In the case of microgrids, it’s not what these authors wrote – but rather what they didn’t write – that has us giving a word of caution: the latest reports lay out microgrids’ great technological benefits, but give little advice as to how an institutional or commercial electricity customer should navigate the overwhelmingly complex regulatory structure behind utility operations in order to actually develop and deploy a microgrid.
In many regions of the US, the reality is that it will be up to the utilities and …
| November 7th 2012
The term “disruptive” is thrown around by just about everyone these days – investors, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and even Cleantech Group! I fear the word is doomed to follow the same projected path of the word “sustainability”… Before heading too far down that road, I’d like to get in my two cents on some of the water technologies I perceive to be “disruptive” in today’s world.
- Amoeba. A majority of commercial and industrial cooling tower operators have used the same [chemical] treatment system for decades and are hesitant to try anything new, even in the face of rising water and energy costs. Many alternative treatment systems have been on the market for over a decade, but market penetration has been slow. Non-oxidizing agents such as biocides, though more expensive, are increasingly being tested and talked about.
- Axine Water Technologies. According to data tracked through i3, over a quarter (27%) of venture capital dollars in the first half of 2012 went to companies providing solutions primarily applicable to industrial water users. The growing presence and importance of this consumer segment stems from concerns around toxicity of wastewater streams, the use of treatment chemicals (and potential creation of byproducts), discharge
by Tim Barham
| November 7th 2012
In late August, Cleantech Group announced that it had released an “improved and expanded taxonomy” for the i3 platform. For the casual observer, it could be understandable to respond to this announcement with a gentle yawn. After all, Webster defines taxonomy as “the classification of something”, which would seem to make the announcement akin to alphabetizing a bookshelf rather than making disruptive strides in the cleantech space.
However, in order to fully appreciate the significance and success of the new taxonomy, one must take a gigantic step back and think about the contemporary connotation of cleantech as a whole. The term “cleantech” itself is incredibly vague and means different things to different people. This, in turn, can lead to confusion and oversimplification. While chatting with a friend recently, I actually asked him what cleantech was. His response: “I don’t know, like windmills and reusable tote bags and stuff?” While this may seem like a silly answer, it is somewhat illustrative of the kind of cloudiness that can surround a highly technical and diversified space.
This is really where the taxonomy comes in to play. If i3 is the boat that allows global players to navigate through cloudy waters, …
by Whitney Michael
| August 9th 2012
Analyst Troy Ault explains why we chose Aqwise to be the company of the week:…
by kerry cebul
| July 13th 2012
The preliminary release of our 2Q12 numbers confirmed what many have been talking about for months…significantly lower global cleantech VC investment by both deal count and dollar amount.
Yet, the Energy Efficiency sector remains a bright spot amidst the gloomy discussions of shakeouts and a transition away from the term “cleantech.” And, as both VCs and corporate strategics reassess the broader cleantech landscape and refine their approaches, there is renewed interest in understanding the potential of this continuing bright spot. As Rob Day of Black Coral Capital put it in this great review of the numbers yesterday, “even while the overall cleantech sector is in a down period, it’s clearly still an exciting time to be investing in energy efficiency and related plays.”
Within energy efficiency, digital solutions to building efficiency continues to be a particular area of investor and entrepreneur interest. From enterprise energy management and lighting control systems, to remote auditing and benchmarking, entrepreneurs and investors are developing scalable digital solutions to tackle the building efficiency market. Some of the industry’s hottest companies like Redwood Systems, Gridium, Adura Technologies, Vigilent and essess have raised recent rounds from some of the industry’s top investors including Draper …
by Whitney Michael
| June 26th 2012
Just released – a special excerpt on Solar from Cleantech Group’s Quarterly Investment Monitor report (normally available only to subscribers).
Venture investment in solar in the first quarter of 2012 was down following on the back of a strong 2011. Companies innovating in various areas of the solar sector raised $250 million in the first quarter, down 53 percent from the previous quarter and down 56 percent when compared with the same quarter a year earlier. While the total amount invested dropped steeply, the number of deals done remained relatively strong at 28 (right near the long-running sweet spot for the sector of 30 deals per quarter).
This suggests investors are both cautious about market conditions and capital-constrained and are choosing more efficient fund allocation while still keeping an appetite for deals. The average round sizes for both the quarter as a whole and the top three deals were also down around 50 percent compared with the quarterly averages for 2011.
SolarCity’s $81 million round, the biggest round of the quarter for the solar sector, drove the large dollar share for the segment. In addition to SolarCity’s round, other PV integrators/developers including Sungevity, OneRoof Energy, ISIS Solar…