cleantech insights

Oil & Gas Industry’s Embrace of Clean Technology – Catching Up with Jean-Michel Gires of Chrysalix


The majority perception of the term “cleantech” dictates that folks often think my company, Cleantech Group, must be entirely uninterested in working with large traditional players in the oil & gas (O&G) industry. Indeed, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, our data from i3 and my interview with Jean-Michel Gires, former President & CEO of Total E&P Canada and now the newest Venture Partner at Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, reveal that the O&G industry is embracing clean technology more closely than ever before.

O&G Corporates Partnering with Proven Innovators

Cleantech start-ups often have it tough. Those developing technologies that require more capital and time to scale than traditional “tech” startups lead some investors to argue that the sector just doesn’t fit the traditional venture capital model. And, like biomedical start-ups, some cleantech start-ups often face highly-regulated or otherwise-entrenched traditional industries where innovation is slower to take root.

It is with this backdrop that we see large O&G companies as important drivers of cleantech innovation. Large balance sheets allow for impactful investments and we’re seeing more and more O&G majors starting to embrace innovation more directly with dedicated venturing arms and co-investments with industry peers (see chart at …


Cleantech Forum SF 2011: From Impact to Data to Impact

David Cheng

A week has passed since our flagship event, Cleantech Forum San Francisco 2011 (the theme: From Data to Impact).  This has been my fourth Cleantech Forum San Francisco.  I attended the prior three when I was an associate at a cleantech venture capital fund.  This one was special.  Not only because I was one of the organizers, but 2011 may be the year we (as investors, entrepreneurs, analysts and policy-makers) will begin to see the impact prior cleantech investments are making on our overall economy.  This foundational investment creates a virtuous cycle, enabling new applications to measure, monitor and control data in energy, water and resource end markets, which in turn will lead to new impacts.  I helped organize three panels (moderating two of them).  Here are my thoughts and takeaways on them:

Lessons from Cleantech China

The Panelists: Andrew Beebe, Mohsen Khalil, Andrew Tang, Jerry Bloom

The Takeaways: Andrew Beebe cautioned that China’s success in cleantech wasn’t a zero-sum game for the US or the rest of the world.  The other panelists agreed that Chinese competiveness lowered the cost of renewable generation for global consumers, and in the case of the IFC, yielded outsized returns …

10 reasons why the UK is a global cleantech leader

Guest Analyst: Shawn Lesser

The UK’s official commitment to cleantech is strong and growing. In its official Renewable Energy Strategy, the UK set a target of deriving 15 percent of its energy needs from renewables by 2020.

In keeping with that ambitious goal, the new UK Prime Minister, Conservative David Cameron, has wasted no time in highlighting the importance of the cleantech sector. “I don’t want to hear warm words about the environment. I want to see real action. I want this to be the greenest government ever… I intend to make decisions put off for too long to fundamentally change how we supply and use energy in Britain… To give the power industry the confidence it needs to invest in low carbon energy projects,” he said.

Here are my top ten reasons why I believe the UK is a cleantech leader:

1. The UK government has strong cross party political support for cleantech and climate change. The government recently passed the Climate Change Bill with cross party consensus meaning that the three main political parties in the UK agree that climate change is a serious challenge. Moreover, the Climate Change Act sets ambitious statutory limits on carbon emissions requiring a 34 percent cut …

Carbon Capture and Storage in search of no Mickey Mouse investments

Federica Dalamel de Bournet

The first and main challenge for the deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) is arguably the high cost of such large scale technologies. CCS is for deep-pocketed corporates, and governments who see the future of their large emitters at stake in an increasingly environmentally-conscious world. At the Cleantech Forum XXVII in Paris, CCS experts gathered for the “Carbon Capture & Storage: In Search of Risk Finance” panel session. The outcome of the panel talk was clear: CCS is not yet a playground for venture capitalists (VC). The costs involved in building even just a single CCS unit are outside of a VC’s scope.

Small innovation companies in this area are sparse for this exact reason. However, the panel of speakers agreed that this could easily change and become a hot VC investment area within less than 10 years. That depends on the extent research and development moves forward, and on the deployment of commercial-size demonstration projects to prove the technology is a viable one. Interestingly, U.S. West Coast VCs seem to be one length ahead of the others in that they are already looking for good CCS companies to pour their dollars into.

So what fuels CCS at the …

Duke Energy Looks To China For Innovation: Report From Cleantech Forum Boston

Greg Neichin

In a global market for technology and capital that knows fewer national borders, Duke, one of the largest energy producers in the US is headed to China, not in search for a new market… but for innovative technology. This bold move is an important indicator of an eastward shift in the nexus of innovation. It should catch the attention of executives and policymakers around the world as the purchasing dollars of large corporate customers will play a significant role in determining future cleantech leadership. The race is on and China is running at top speed.

Where does the debate on carbon capture and storage stand today?

Federica Dalamel de Bournet

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is traditionally defined as a system that reduces emissions from point sources. There is much debate surrounding the technology: is it a safe and sustainable technology? Who should fund the first commercial scale demonstration project: governments or corporations wanting to reduce their footprint? Regardless of numerous challenges, CCS has a huge potential of “buying us time” to find low-carbon solutions, hence I believe it should be fully explored.

Murky waters for commercial ocean fertilization projects

Emma Ritch

The governing body for ocean-fertilization projects issued a resolution today impeding the prospect for commercially driven experiments in the foreseeable future.

The London Convention and Protocol (LCP) said “that, given the present state of knowledge, ocean fertilization activities other than legitimate scientific research should not be allowed.”

The resolution cleared up confusion amongst scientists this year as to whether research-driven projects would be permitted, but it stopped short of a mentioning commercial projects, as originally pursued by San Francisco’s Climos.

David Santillo, a senior scientist with Greenpeace Research Laboratories, told the Cleantech Group that he interpreted the resolution as effectively prohibiting any experiment by a company looking to receive carbon credits for its ocean iron fertilization work.

But the impact of the resolution isn’t so cut-and-dry, according to Dan Whaley, CEO of San Francisco-based Climos.

“That’s interpreting the language, and you’re free to do so, but that would be taking the perspective of Greenpeace,” Whaley said today. “The language was chosen very carefully and it doesn’t mention commercialization.”

Climos has planned to use ocean iron fertilization (OIF) projects to gain carbon credits (see Plankton to the rescue). But Whaley said the company is pleased the convention affirmed …