cleantech insights

Water: Week in Review


Following suit with Texas, California is in the process of finalizing its own legislation that will require companies to disclose a complete list of the chemicals used in fracturing operations.  Fracking continues to make headlines, and HTI doesn’t want to be left behind – a joint R&D project that the company is involved in just raised $1.3 million of funding to research the role of forward osmosis in the treatment and reuse of produced water.  Continue reading for more on these and other events in the water world:

M&A/ Partnerships


  • Clean Water Services in Oregon will install the first Ostara Pearl® 2000 system (from Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies) at the Rock Creek Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility in Hillsboro, OR.  The facility will install two reactors, with each reactor rated at 2,000 kg/day of production, and will have the capacity to produce 1,200 tons of fertilizer

What matters in cleantech corporate relationships

Josh Gould

One of our major research focuses here at Cleantech Group is corporate-to-corporate relationships.  We track them in i3 for our research subscribers.  We also capture them in our market map (see the picture above).  We spend so much time on relationships because we believe they have an outsized influence on cleantech relative to other industries. 

Why?  That is worthy of a post in itself but a few quick reasons include market share (in lighting, for instance, just 3 players have a combined 50% share of the market), importance of customer and channel access (e.g., governmental and utility clients whom are difficult for startups to reach),  influence with regulators, and the mutually dependent relationship between  large, slower-growing company balance sheets and the often superior ability of smaller companies to innovate.

So let’s say you agree with our thesis that corporate relationships matter in cleantech.  But what really matters in these relationships?  That is also a topic worthy of a much longer post but here’s a few initial thoughts:

  1. Number: The number of relationships a company is a (albeit imperfect) proxy for the influence a company wields.  A few examples of relationship numbers representing influence include GE and Schneider Electric

On power and influence in Cleantech

Josh Gould

File this under simple, but underappreciated: power and influence are not synonyms.  They describe seperate, though sometimes closely related, phenomena.  Distinguishing between each requires self-awareness.  Successful people like Bing Gordon of Electronic Arts fame, who recently discussed the issue here, tend to be keenly aware of how much of each characteristic they have, and how best to conserve or deploy it.  Being successful in cleantech is no exception.

Let’s define the terms first.  Power is the ability to command someone to do something.  At its best power can enable or provide the legitimacy for people to achieve great things.  At its worst, power can be destructive and coercive (think of dictators or autocrats or, better yet,  Office Space).   In a corporate setting, a classic appeal to power is when a manager “pulls rank” or mandates that an employee do something simply because “I am the boss.”  Of course pulling rank is also a sign that the employee has little respect for, or is not influenced by, the manager.

Influence, on the other hand, is the ability to affect others, regardless of whether that ability is derived from formal authority or not.  Not surprisingly, the most influential often lack …

Corporations seek a water strategy

Mia Javier

No doubt, the opportunity in water is gaining visibility. With governments pursuing policy to incentivize water innovation and giants like IBM, SAP and Oracle circling the sector, water is fast becoming the industry of choice for corporations not traditionally in water and those specifically in information technology  – they want a piece of the pie.

The IT opportunity is logically drawn from the investments and innovation poured into the Smart Grid. By some estimates the market opportunity is $20 billion but not only are corporations mindful of market outlooks they are developing a business strategy in Smart Water. In this way, global market sizing and the macroeconomics of water supply and demand are informative but not actionable insights.

So, what questions must be answered in order to develop a strategy in water?

First, what are the unique aspects of a particular customer segment in water? Public-sector buyers are notoriously conservative with a complex business process. Just this week, the Portuguese Construction Firm, ITT Corporation, secured three wastewater treatment plant contracts in the Montemor-o-Velho municipality of Portugal in a complicated business transaction where ITT Corporation partnered with both a construction company as well as a design firm to win the …

Smart Water: where tech geek and statistician dive in

Mia Javier

Water systems typically espouse thoughts of boring, archaic, underground concrete and steel structures that mean little so long as clean water pours out the tap. Indeed, most tax payers find the thought of water infrastructure investments puzzling when water prices are relatively low and proof of bad pipes are invisible (at least above ground).

But getting smart about water has suddenly become interesting.

As a global community, we know relatively little about a resource we rely so heavily upon. Governments are increasingly aware of their global water risk exposure and have engaged in various studies to get a grip on their water data. Just this week:

The above illustrates how our water scarce world is in critical need of the deliberate collection and analysis of water. While the collection of some data sets will require significant investment (think data on everything from ocean temperature to …

Energy efficiency at the atom level

Emma Ritch

Researchers at Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM (NYSE:IBM) announced they have used an atomic force microscope to look inside a molecule, representing some of the highest-resolution insight into the electronic and chemical properties of the world’s smallest building blocks.

The findings could be used to understand and chart charge distribution at the atom level, offering potential applications in improving the energy efficiency of computing components and the conversion of solar energy to electricity, said Fabian Mohn, an IBM scientist, in an interview with the Cleantech Group today.

“The significance of the research is more in opening up possibilities for further research, not so much direct application,” he said. “It’s a new technique of investigating atomic or molecular systems.”

The nanotechnology researchers at IBM’s Zurich lab in Switzerland compared the findings to an x-ray that provides an image of bones and organs inside a human. Similarly, the non-contact atomic force microscopy shows the atomic structures of individual molecules, offering the opportunity to study the electronic and chemical properties.

The imaging of the pentacene molecule was conducted in an ultrahigh vacuum at extremely low temperatures, around -268 degrees Celsius (-451 Fahrenheit). The scientists were able to look through the electron cloud to …