Recent Posts:

A Litmus Test

Rob Day: January 25, 2011, 12:40 AM

Just finished a very long first day at the Clean Economy Summit in D.C.  Lots of cleantech business leaders in attendance, a great crowd.

I've ended up being in more conversations about the current and future role of natural gas than I expected.  It's clear that the expected continued low cost of natural gas in this country is going to have major impacts on cleantech markets and policies in the U.S. going forward.

Participants were allocated to roundtables on various topics of interest; my group was tasked with thinking about what an effective clean energy standard (the latest rebranding of a national renewable portfolio standard) might look like.  Managers from a wide range of...

Solve a Local Problem

Rob Day: January 22, 2011, 2:03 AM

My hometown was fortunate to be the recipient of a Massachusetts Green Communities award this year.  So I showed up at the town Renewable Energy Committee meeting to see if I could help.  Being the fourth person in the room, it turned out to be a bit more interactive than I'd expected.

On the table were proposals to do major energy retrofits of the town's schools; financing a solar system on one town building's roof; marketing campaigns to get residents to do energy retrofits for their homes; funding a geothermal heat pump for the library; putting up a wind turbine at the athletic fields; purchasing more efficient street lamps; etc.

In other words, a pretty wide range of choices...

Looking Forward to the Clean Economy Summit Next Week

Rob Day: January 18, 2011, 12:03 PM

Regular readers will recognize the Clean Economy Network from my past mentions of the organization, which has been establishing itself as a nonpartisan voice and community convener for the cleantech industry in Washington, D.C. and in regional chapters across North America.

They're going to be hosting their first annual Clean Economy Summit next week.  An invite-only event to bring together 150 cleantech CEOs, investors and top policymakers for two days of networking and market/policy planning.  I'm looking forward to the event, which promises to be a pretty interesting crowd.

As we look forward to the next wave of U.S. cleantech, what market and policy priorities do you think...

How to Raise Venture Capital for a Cleantech Startup in 2011

Rob Day: January 10, 2011, 10:21 PM

These are tough times for cleantech startups in need of capital.  In the 2010 cleantech venture tally recently put out by the Cleantech Group, despite their positive spin on it even they had to acknowledge that Q4 was a second straight down quarter -- only Q1 and Q2 made 2010 look good.  Heading into 2011, while I do think there will be a bit of an upward trend, there's little reason to think VCs are going to start pouring significantly more capital into the sector anytime soon.  

So what is a cleantech entrepreneur to do, just fold up shop?  Some will be forced to do so.  Others will turn to alternative sources of funding (grants, NRE from strategic partners, or non-VC funding...

The Good, the Bad, and the “Ugh”: Cleantech and the current web bubble

Rob Day: January 3, 2011, 4:47 PM

I've spoken with a few cleantech investors and startup CEOs lately, who naturally mention and opine about the recent high-valuation fundraisings in the web space, but for the most part without a sense that it really matters to anyone in the cleantech sector.

But far from it being inconsequential or just something to feel a twinge of jealousy about, instead I'm starting to see some real implications -- both good and bad -- for the sector as a result of what's increasingly looking like a new web bubble (or "wubble" as I've been calling it on twitter, because then at least it sounds small and cute and manageable).

 

The Good:

First and foremost, cleantech VCs are just glad to...

Why Massachusetts is leading

Rob Day: December 29, 2010, 10:31 AM

I often get the feeling talking with cleantech investor colleagues in California and contacts in D.C. that they don't think about Massachusetts very much.  Perhaps they think of the innovation center in the universities based in the state, but they don't think very often about the state as being a leading market for such innovations.

But it is.

Over the past few years, thanks to the efforts of the Patrick Administration and earlier efforts, Massachusetts has been a quiet trend-setter in terms of how to support implementation of clean technologies, and how to restructure the electricity regulatory scheme so that utilities have an incentive to tackle real efficiency savings, not...

11 predictions for 2011

Rob Day: December 27, 2010, 9:21 PM

'Tis the season for nor'easters, new year's resolutions, and venture capital prognostications.  All three, basically snow jobs.

2010 wasn't a good year for many cleantech venture capitalists.  I think 2011 will be better... for some.  Here's what I wrote about my 2010 predictions in retrospect.  And here are some of my predictions for 2011:

1. The cleantech venture capital shakeout will become more obvious

I haven't seen too much written about this by those outside the industry, mostly because it's been pretty quietly done.  But as we've talked about here before, there's been an exodus of investors out of the sector lately.  To date, it's been mostly individuals -- either...