Recent Posts:

“Micro-generation technologies are the wave of the future”

Rob Day: February 24, 2010, 4:43 PM

For some reason, I started looking over an experienced cleantech investor's presentation on distributed generation today.  It's pretty fascinating.  I'll pull out a few notable quotes and points:

  • "Micro-generation technologies are the wave of the future"
  • "No technology breakthroughs are needed.  It's a manufacturing challenge."
  • "Micro-generators and micro-grids will 'strand' T&D assets"
  • "The costs are already in the range."
    • "Conventional systems: 100kw power master is $1500/mo full maintenance lease (~2 cents / kwh); $0.05-0.06 / kwh depending upon load factor at $4.00/mmbtu natural gas"
  • "Wall Street is getting the message"
  • And then this quote from an analyst at Morgan...

“Utility Time”

Rob Day: February 22, 2010, 12:40 AM

I've heard many cleantech investors say some version of the following:  "Don't invest in any company that's totally dependent upon utilities as its customers."

The admonishment reflects a basic fact -- utilities move slowly.  Terribly slowly.  They move in "utility time", where purchasing decisions are made slowly, if at all.

I spoke with one entrepreneur lately who had been working with a utility to be included in a rebate system, and now looked to be locked out.  When the entrepreneur spoke with a sympathetic exec at the utility, the answer was "oh, we know you should be included, but that's okay, you can just re-apply in six months."

Six months is an eternity to a startup.  That...

Don’t read this post

Rob Day: February 16, 2010, 10:12 AM

Totally whimsical thought of no value this morning:

At what point will we start seeing a wave of cleantech startups named with the same kind of randomness as Web2.0 startups appear to be?

Mint, Foursquare, Meebo, Swivel, PopJam, StuffBuff, etc. These are the kinds of company names you see in just a cursory glance at TechCrunch, one of the websites chronicling the rise of Web2.0 startups.  The names appear to have little to no actual meaning, they're just intended to be different-sounding and memorable and have easy-to-find URLs.

Meanwhile in just the solar space alone, cleantech has so many company names that just confusingly run together.  SolFocus, Solar Power Partners, Solar...

A valuable reminder on green building materials

Rob Day: February 15, 2010, 1:32 PM

Like many of my cleantech investor colleagues, at one time or another I've ended up spending some significant time on opportunities in the green building materials space.  Green building markets in the U.S. are expected to triple by 2013, LEED certification is becoming a de facto requirement in some sectors and regions, and since buildings are responsible for something like 39% of all energy consumption in the U.S. any materials that can impact that have a big potential economic opportunity.

I was having a conversation with an experienced realtor this weekend, and mentioned green buildings to her.  "Oh, I worry about those," was her response.

First of all, she worries about untested...

“Revenue-neutral”: The last hope for climate change legislation?

Rob Day: February 8, 2010, 2:43 PM

I've picked up on a couple of mentions lately of Senators on both sides of the aisle starting to work on revenue-neutral alternatives to the Waxman-Markey type of cap and trade climate legislation that has been the focus of attention ever since Obama came into office.

There's been talk of the GOP staff on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, reporting to Sen. Murkowski of Alaska, possibly working on a revenue-neutral carbon tax proposal.

And Cantwell and Collins are proposing a "cap and dividend" plan, also to be revenue-neutral.

Gee, sounds familiar.

Frustratingly, I could probably have just cut-and-pasted my entire May 2009 column on this topic into a new post with no...

Trouble brewing?

Rob Day: February 4, 2010, 11:21 PM

Haven't had much time to go through the various recent cleantech IPO filings, and so haven't talked about them much.  Also just generally hoping they do well, for the sake of the overall industry.

But in a meeting today someone put up some stats that were pretty sobering.

Taking a basket of 4 high profile recent IPOs and filings, the total across the four companies was:

- Trailing twelve month revenues = $319M

- Trailing twelve month EBITDA = -($343M)

- Total venture dollars put into all four companies to date = approximately $1.5B

Like I said, I hope all of these companies do well and grow into great companies.  But this type of profile for IPO isn't the norm.  So you have to wonder...