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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
  2. Type: We here at Cleantech Group track whether a relationship is an investment,
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Powergetics and the rise of the business case

Josh Gould

One of the key trends we’ve seen in cleantech recently is what we call, colloquially, “the rise of the business case.”  When large companies and startups have been able to quantify the benefits of a given investment to customers – providing some sort of financial metric like an IRR, ROI or simple payback period – they have weathered the headwinds of a tough economy.  Examples include large energy services businesses like Johnson Controls, Honeywell, and Schneider Electric.  Startup examples include efficiency-related companies who can quantify their value propositions – names like Scientific Conservation and BuildingIQ in the building, and Lumenergi, Daintree, and Digital Lumens in lighting.

But in energy storage, making a business case can be very hard.  Not only is the data sometimes ambiguous/flawed/non-existent, building that data into a business case is difficult. Energy storage company Ice Energy, for instance, has a link to a 65 page guide for modeling the value proposition for distributed storage on their website.  Grid storage may be even more difficult; to make economic sense a deployment must (almost always) address multiple benefits.  But addressing certain benefits involves the opportunity cost of operating the device in a …

Energy Efficiency and Elevator Etiquette

Emma Ritch

Much of the cleantech research I do focuses on innovative technologies, advances to existing appliances, and new software solutions that enable greater levels of control. But in nearly every conversation I have with ESCOs such as Johnson Controls or Schneider Electric, they emphasize the huge factor that human behavior plays.

This was driven home to me when our office building in downtown San Francisco announced an Energy Alert Day. In order to conserve energy, the facility manager was shutting down two of the 12 elevators that serve the 20-story building.

My first thought was that the actual impact of energy efficiency would be negligible, while the inconvenience factor would be great. I frequently ride the elevator alone to our office on the 10th floor, and so do many of my colleagues. We rarely have to wait more than a minute for an elevator, and taking 17% of the elevators offline would likely mean the wait time would increase by a similar amount.

My colleague, David Hague here at the Cleantech Group, did some searching and found an online calculation for the energy used per floor by elevators. A 20-floor roundtrip consumes 100 Wh, approximately the same energy used in …

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 …