by Jill Bunting
| April 9th 2013
This week’s indicator is 100, which is the number of Tesla Model S vehicles purchased by the Las Vegas-based initiative Project 100. The initiative, which aims to “bring together the ultimate in collaborative consumption,” aspires to completely eliminate the need for vehicle ownership in Las Vegas by combining bike sharing, car sharing, taxis, and shuttle buses, into a single membership. This differentiates it from services like ZipCar or Getaround, which address only one corner of the market. The rise of platforms like Project 100 underscores the need for businesses to incorporate collaborative consumption into their products and services.
A fair amount of ink has already been devoted to exploring whether we’ve passed “peak driving” in the developed world, a trend that is especially striking for the Millennial generation. While it may be too soon to declare the death of car ownership, the consumer appeal of collaborative consumption models is too great for businesses to ignore. So far, large corporates have been fairly flat-footed (in the auto industry and elsewhere) in adapting to this trend, while startups like Airbnb and Yerdle are gaining accolades and market traction. However, there are signs that big corporates are starting to clue …
| April 8th 2013
It was an exciting week in cleantech, with several rounds of venture financing raised by startup companies. Aquion Energy, a developer of batteries based on ambient-temperature sodium-ion technology and targeting the grid energy storage market, led headlines with a $35 million round led by Bright Capital, and with participation from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Foundation Capital, and others.
In the energy efficiency sector, two companies raised sizable rounds for their technology offerings, which target efficiency alternatively in data centers and visual displays. QD Vision, a developer of a quantum dot technology that it says delivers increased color and brightness and requires less power than current LED technologies, raised $11.7 million from investors including Highland Capital Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners. On the data center efficiency side, Rhode Island-based GreenBytes reeled in $7 million in new equity capital from Battery Ventures and Generation Investment Management.
There were also several interesting company relationships formed during the week. Among them, one that stood out was the announcement from Amyris that it would expand its partnership with French energy company Total, forming a joint venture by the end of 2013 to market biodiesel and jet …
| April 1st 2013
Concentrating solar power (CSP) plant developer eSolar led headlines last week with news that it’s raised $12.8 million out of a hoped-for $30 million growth round. The company is betting on the power-smoothing ability of its molten salt thermal storage technology, as well as its strategic partnership with natural gas power giant GE, to prove the economic viability of its solar power tower plants at a time when project developers are increasingly turning to cheaper PV.
Cellulosic ethanol producer Mascoma became the latest biofuels company to withdraw a planned IPO. In the past year, a veritable flock of biofuels producers have done so, including Enerkem, Fulcrum Bioenergy, Coskata, Genomatica, and Elevance. Macoma is backed by several prominent VCs, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and VantagePoint, as well as strategic investors including General Motors and Valero.
Elsewhere in venture capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers raised eyebrows with its latest energy-related investment, in a $4 million Series A round co-invested with Stephens Capital into Choose Energy. The company is an energy retailer focused on deregulated markets like Texas, and offers consumers choices like power procured partially or wholly from renewable sources.
by Jill Bunting
| April 1st 2013
This week’s indicator is 9.1 Gt CO2e, which is the potential annual reduction in global GHG emissions from information and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology by 2020, according to a report by the Carbon War Room. 9.1 Gt is roughly equivalent to the combined annual emissions of the United States and India. But beyond carbon abatement, M2M technology represents an enormous business opportunity: the industry as a whole is projected to be worth nearly $1 trillion by 2020. As the report states, “If we utilize technologies such as M2M to their full potential, ‘low carbon’ will by synonymous with economic growth and sustainable prosperity, now and into the future.”
The promise of M2M technology is the ability to drive profits by using resources and time more efficiently. In the energy sector, M2M can drive higher efficiencies in energy production and transmission, as well as facilitate smarter demand response strategies. M2M technology can enable farmers to make better decisions about what to plant, when to fertilize, and where to use water. The challenge for businesses is understanding where and how to adopt their business models to realize these new efficiencies. This often requires looking for opportunities at the convergence of non-traditional …
| March 25th 2013
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 …
by Greg Neichin
| March 24th 2013
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 …
| March 18th 2013
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 …
by Emily Chan
| March 13th 2013
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 …