Recent Posts:

Energy efficiency leads the way?

Rob Day: March 31, 2010, 12:35 PM

Well, it appears it's finally happened -- energy efficiency is now the hot sector in cleantech venture capital.  That's based upon the writeup of Q1 as reported by The Cleantech Group and Deloitte, who put out their numbers today.

Overall, the picture is one of continued return to healthy dealflow in the sector.  They tallied $1.9B in global cleantech venture dollars, across 180 disclosed deals.  On a dollar basis, this is their largest quarter since 2008, but in terms of deals they claim it was the largest quarter ever.  With Project Better Place providing $350M in one single tracked deal, this implies that deal sizes are relatively down.  

As I have said for a while, it's important...

An update from DC

Rob Day: March 21, 2010, 11:26 PM

This past week I and several senior cleantech private equity investors were invited to DC for meetings with Administration and legislative staff to discuss climate and energy legislation.  We were there to provide input in meetings with Valerie Jarrett and Austan Goolsbee at the White House and also to connect with DOE staff and the staff of several Senate offices that are working on various alternative climate bills.

I've participated in such swings through DC in the past, but this one was particularly educational, and I thought I would pass along a few takeaways in case they're useful intel for any readers, since these things have a significant impact on the industry, no...

To the integrators go the spoils?

Rob Day: March 13, 2010, 12:31 AM

Most high-profile cleantech VCs will tell you they're looking for breakthrough technology.  The "black swan".  The "grid parity".  The "unicorns". (Okay, I made that last one up, but it wouldn't surprise you to see some VCs talking like that, would it.)

But there's an alternative model -- that the winners in cleantech will be the integrators, those combining proprietary and non-proprietary technologies into systems, rather than those innovating breakthroughs at the component level.

Absolutely, there's value to further innovation at what I'm describing in this column as the "component level" but which can be pretty important.  Cheaper solar cells, better battery chemistries, more...

Some thoughts from MIT Energy Conference and ARPA-E Summit

Rob Day: March 9, 2010, 11:31 AM

I'm not one to flog corporate green marketing stuff, but in this case I'll make an exception.  I can't attest to the validity or accuracy of the presentation, but I've found the numbers being shared by Exelon, and their general attitude about green energy and stakeholder engagement, to be encouraging.  You can see a good example here (note: link opens a large pdf).   I'd be curious to hear what Joel Makower thinks about it...

I'm intrigued by two things in particular in this report:  First, I'm pretty interested in their presentation of their carbon abatement cost curve (pages 3-4).  I think they've done it in a funny way, and not necessarily the way I'd like to see (for example, they...

“Oil & Gas” need a divorce

Rob Day: March 3, 2010, 3:13 PM

At ARPA-E, listening to Jim Woolsey talk about the possible important role of natural gas in any effort for both "energy independence" and climate change mitigation in the U.S.

It reminds me of a personal opinion I've been sharing with peers for a while now:  That Oil & Gas need a divorce.

Historically, in the U.S. it's been a single industry.  "Oil&Gas", practically all one word.  You put a hole in the ground, and sometimes one comes out, sometimes the other comes out, so many large producers do a bit of both.  You can see how a marriage of convenience, at the very least, would be natural for the group.  Represented by the same industry servicers: Trade associations, lobbyists, PR...

“Shift happens”

Rob Day: March 2, 2010, 2:47 PM

I've stolen the title of this post from a very funny line delivered by Daniel Nocera (MIT, SunCatalytix) at the ARPA-E Summit in DC this morning.

Yes, I'm attending the first ARPA-E Summit, and I'm glad I did.  It's proving to be one of the best events of the year, in the cleantech sector.  A who's who list on stage and amongst attendees, a great mixing bowl for researchers and practitioners and investors, and some really impressively innovative ideas.  Kudos to the organizers at the DOE and CTSI, among others.

The idea of ARPA-E, of course, is to try to get the energy landscape shift Nocera was referring to, to happen more quickly.  To fund breakthrough, but practical innovation,...