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An Update on the Energy Efficiency Sector

David Medoff

Last year, the global Energy Efficiency sector completed more deals than any of its peer industries, according to Cleantech Group’s i3 platform. The past quarter saw sustained momentum within the sector, so much so that Energy Efficiency led all other industries in total accrued investments, receiving over $520 million, or 18% of all Q1 cleantech fundraising. By all accounts, efficiency software and hardware providers are doing well.

That said, can we really call this news? For the past decade, Energy Efficiency has consistently been at the vanguard of cleantech fundraising, second only to Solar. Moreover, the former has been far more consistent in its fundraising ability than Solar, an industry known for its highs and lows.

So while healthy numbers may be old news for the sector, sub-sector capital allocation is always changing. Energy Efficiency covers a wide swathe of subsectors, from Smart Glass to Efficient HVAC to Cleanweb and so on.  Thus, the most recent data enjoin us to ask where, specifically, are the most recent windfalls landing?

View designs and manufactures intelligent glasses that electronically tint in response to sunlight, and in doing so, mitigates reliance on HVAC systems; the company claims energy reductions in …

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The Rise of Distributed Energy Storage Systems

Thomas Roccanova

In the age of up and coming distributed energy resources, one must put energy storage in the conversation.  While Solar PV may be the current breadwinner in many people’s minds, recent developments show the future for energy storage is bright. In October 2013, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a new mandate that requires Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric to add 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage by 2020. Paired with the recently re-established SGIP incentive, energy storage is poised to become a driving force in California in the coming years.

While it is early to attribute too many specific energy storage projects directly to the newly initiated mandate, energy storage companies such as Stem and Green Charge Networks are among the emerging start-ups that are focusing on reducing demand charges through a customer-side, behind-the-meter approach of distributed energy storage. Stem, Green Charge Networks, and Coda Energy have received notable recent funding within the past year, which has helped them develop zero-money down energy storage finance programs in order to incentivize adoption among industrial and commercial customers.

Keeping in tune with the general movement toward automation, Stem and Green Charge Networks

Discussing the ABB + Solar Impulse Partnership with ABB SVP Maxine Ghavi

M Paschich

ABB_Maxine _GhaviEarlier this quarter, ABB announced their technology alliance partnership with Solar Impulse. We spoke with Maxine Ghavi—SVP & Head of the Solar Industry Segment Initiative at ABB—about the nature of this corporate partnership and what she sees lying ahead for the team.   

Hello Maxine… Can you tell us the genesis story for the ABB + Solar Impulse partnership?

If you look at ABB and Solar Impulse we share a common ideal, and that is to address the growing energy demand with increased efficiency and minimal environmental impact. Both organizations value innovation, value pushing the envelope on the limits of technology. We also share the cultural characteristics of being Swiss-based companies. We both have novel approaches to solving problems in a responsible way, and endeavor to make significant contributions to the areas of renewable energy and storage. All of these together – our shared visions for technology, innovation and sustainable energy – they set a solid foundation for collaboration and to take these common areas of expertise to the next level.

ABB_Blog_Image1Yes, that’s quite interesting. How do you fit into this story? Can you share a bit on your background, and what you’re doing at ABB? Also, what do you

Red Hot: Agriculture & Food Investment Sets Record Pace in 2014

Gannon McHenry

Precision Agriculture has burst onto the scene as one of the most discussed sectors of 2014. This is due in no small part to the recent commercialization of multiple disruptive technologies. Technologies such as drones, formerly limited to military use, are now being deployed on farms to help greatly increase production. Large corporations and venture investors have begun to notice the immense opportunities involved with mitigating the effects of a changing climate and an ever-growing need for better yields.AgInvestment

Total 2014 Q1 venture investment in companies covered by our Agriculture and Food sector was $230M, over double the amount from 2013 Q1. In a sign of the sector’s increasing momentum, the dollar amount of deals made in 2014 has already eclipsed the total for 2013; so far coming in at $331M. Current deal levels are also set to exceed the record number of investments which occurred last year.

The largest individual rounds of the year have so far occurred in the area of genomics. Arcadia Biosciences, a company focused on the production of genetically engineered hardy crops, closed a $33M funding round in early May. Chromatin, a developer of sorghum seed technologies, received $36M in January from a …

How Behavioral Water Efficiency Can Change Our Relationship with H2O: an Interview w/ WaterSmart CEO Peter Yolles

M Paschich

PYcWaterSmart Software recently raised nearly $5 million in Series A round of funding: we chat with Peter Yolles, Co-Founder and CEO, about the company, its growing team, the value of data-driven water management, and the future of the water system.    

Hi Peter… Can you walk us back to the beginning of WaterSmart Software?

Yes, I’d be glad to tell that story. I’ve been in the water sector for over 20 years, and so when I moved to my first home in 2001 it was very important to me that the home use water efficiently. So, I installed hardware like efficient toilets and other appliances, and at the same time I was very interested in knowing what impact these investments would have and how much money I was saving on my water use. Tracking these savings meant gathering data, which—I thought—meant going online to my local water utility’s website. Surprisingly, I found a page called “Water Consumption History”. Frustratingly, the page said “Under Construction / Check Back Soon”. And so I waited and waited and waited and, after 8 years, nothing changed. Looking back, it makes some sense because, when you think about it, water utilities just don’t have …

China’s Smog Triggers Investment in Air Pollution Mitigation

Wendy Bao

During the opening keynote at Cleantech Forum San Francisco 2014, Cleantech Group CEO, Sheeraz Haji, stepped on the stage while wearing a facemask commonly seen in China. Attendees immediately realized his reference to the infamous air pollution problem in China. According to China’s Development Research Center of the State Council, smoggy weather costs China approximately $100 billion a year. To mitigate such loss, Chinese government plans to invest $290 billion for air pollution treatment technologies from 2013 to 2017, said Xiaoqing Wu, Vice-Minister of the China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection. These investments and mandates by the government will create a huge market demand for innovating technologies within the Air sector.

 China Investment in Air

Per chart below, desirable investment environment created by the urgent needs for air pollution mitigation technologies resulted in a peak in investments last year. According to Cleantech Group’s i3 Platform, deal count in the Air sector rose from just two deals to ten deals between 2012 and 2013. We saw leading global ventures such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB),  Qualcomm Ventures, and Sequoia Capital, along with local ventures such as Qiming Venture Partners and TusPark Ventures actively investing in the Air

The Last Frontier of the IT Revolution: A Chat with Ecofective CEO Mats Pettersson

M Paschich

Mats

[UPDATE: Ecofective was ranked 1st in the Energy Efficiency category (and 3rd overall) in the 2014 Nordic Cleantech Open]

One of our sessions during the Cleantech Forum Europe that will be held in Stockholm (May 19-21) is titled The Entrepreneurs Track. Building Innovations Meet Their Target Purchasers: Where the Rubber Truly Hits the Road. In this session, selected building technology companies developing solutions for the buildings industry deliver their “customer pitch” and discuss their products with a group of targeted corporate buyers from the real estate and building industries. Mats Pettersson, CEO of Ecofective, is participating in this session at the Forum. In this related interview, Mats talks about the last frontier of the IT revolution…

What is Ecofective’s genesis story, how did this company come to be?

Ecofective started off as a consultancy with one customer – Wallenstam. Wallenstam is a multi-tenant building owner with around 150 large residential properties here in Sweden. The original project was to develop technology to help these buildings to be more energy efficient, with particular attention on heating systems, since we have long and cold winters here. Ecofective used a thermodynamic optimization research technology, developed for at the Royal Technical Institute in …

Electrifying the Developing World: A Chat with BBOXX CEO Mansoor Hamayun

M Paschich

One of our sessions during the Cleantech Forum Europe that will be held in Stockholm (May 19-21) is titled the 10 Year Track – How we (can have) Impact.  The theme is about how European companies are tackling environmental and resource challenges in some of the most populous and impoverished regions of the world.  One of the speakers in this session is Mansoor Hamayun of BBOXX, a company leading the solar revolution across the developing world by designing, manufacturing, distributing and financing innovative plug & play solar systems to meet the energy needs of the mass market.

Mansoor

Can you tell us the genesis story for BBOXX?

Sure thing. BBOXX started off during my university times. It was my second year studying electrical engineering in London at Imperial College and I was sitting over dinner joking around with a few friends and I said “half the world doesn’t have electricity.” And that lingered in my head for a while. I didn’t think too seriously at first, but it made me interested personally in why one third of mankind (which is the correct number) doesn’t have access to electricity when it’s so fundamental to ensuring an acceptable quality of life – …

Organica Water, Innovation in Wastewater Treatment, and Good Neighbors

Felix Talvard

Matthew Kuzma, Vice President – Technical Solutions & Global Business Development of Organica Water, talks about change in wastewater treatment and being a good neighbour.

Organica WaterOne of our sessions during the Cleantech Forum Europe that will be held in Stockholm (May 19-21) is titled the 10 Year Track – How we (can have) Impact.  The theme is about how European companies are tackling environmental and resource challenges in some of the most populous and impoverished regions of the world. One of the speakers in this session is Matthew Kuzma of Organica Water, a company revolutionizing urban wastewater treatment and 2013 Global Cleantech “Company of the Year” in Europe and Israel.  Founded in 1998 in Budapest, Hungary, Organica Water now holds a major office in Princeton, USA as well as offices in cities such as Delhi, Shanghai and Jakarta.  We asked Matthew about his outlook on the future of cleantech and the future of his company.

Given the theme of our Forum (the “10 Year Track”: ideas on where innovation around energy and resources might take us in the years ahead) what is in store for Organica Water in the next 5 to 10 years? And for the water sector in

When Big Data and Cleanweb Collide: An Interview With WatrHub

Gannon McHenry

The rapid adoption of sensors into our electric and water distribution systems has created a wealth of new data. Start-ups in the Cleanweb sector attempt to digest these vast quantities of data and identify areas for improving efficiency. The recent IPO of Opower and increasing attention paid to companies like Bidgely and C3 Energy has served to further demonstrate that this sector is here to stay. WatrHub is a Cleanweb startup focused on the aggregation of water-industry data. Last week Cleantech Group had the pleasure of interviewing Sunit Mohindroo, WatrHub Inc’s Chief Product Officer to learn more about the company’s platform and challenges they are focused on solving.

sunit mohindroo

Q: Could you explain the problem which you set out to solve and what initially got you interested in the water space?

The essence of WatrHub is we are a data and analytics company focused on providing equipment manufacturers within the water industry with timely and actionable sales leads through our data. Myself and my co-founder, Ahmed Badruddin, having previously worked at Apple and Microsoft, wanted to do something with more of a social and environmental impact. We looked at opportunities in the water space and we …