The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s 23rd Industry Growth Forum is to be held in Denver, Colorado, on October 19-21 this year. Frequently touted as NREL’s premier event for innovative clean energy start-ups, companies come from all over the country to maximize their exposure to receptive venture capital, corporate investors, and strategic partners. This year, Andrews Kurth is proud to participate in a panel entitled “Is VC Financing in Cleantech Still Green? Funding in the Cleantech Space” which is taking place on Thursday, October 21, 2010, from 8:00 am to 9:00 am.
I was reminded of the title of this outstanding New Order song while attending last night’s Fashion 2.0 Meetup/Startup Showcase. What does fashion have to do with Cleantech you ask? Apparently, a fair amount. Of the four presenting companies, two were marketing decidedly Cleantech approaches.
The Renewable Energy Finance Forum (REFF) held in New York this week is the annual event where industry leaders and wannabes meet and greet. It is a barometer of the industry's self confidence and prospect assessment. This is the year of the "game face." There is serious concern about industry prospects, notably sustained demand for wind. Solar's costs are declining, but sustained market interest in the absence of feed in tariffs, strong Renewable Energy Standards/RECs availability, is still problematic. The absence of US players and US banks in the project finance market drew notice. The effect on energy price points of shale gas on renewables competitiveness in particular, was noted as a major threat, as was the declining prospects of systematic carbon regulation.
A year ago, the buzz was that Washington would be the new New York and Silicon Valley for cleantech. Not as untrue this year as some might think it might be.
Complimentary Live Webinar - June 17: Alternative & Renewable Energy Finance Available in Washington, DC
Obtaining funds for renewable energy and sustainability projects and companies now involves more incentives originating in Federal programs administered or legislated in Washington. Increasingly private capital has sought to utilize such incentives.
This morning at AWEA, I attended a session entitled "Financing & Policy Issues for Community Wind." The speakers were Jeff Wright of Midwest Wind Finance, Ryan Harry of BCS, Incorporated, George Baker of Island Institute, Mark Bolinger of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Edwin T. C. Ing of the Law Office of Edwin T. C. Ing. I chose this session because I was unsure what "community wind" was. I have worked on projects where landowners have formed a single entity to represent all the landowners but was curious about community wind.
NIMBY (not in my backyard), long a staple in hydrocarbon projects, has begun to emerge in opposition to wind power development. Ironically, studies show that 80% of the public supports wind energy development as the most cost effective alternative energy option. Nevertheless, as one handwritten sign in an eastern community reads: "great idea, bad location." Most people aren’t green enough to support wind energy if it affects them negatively, or more importantly, if they think it will affect them negatively.
I attended the recent Department of Energy Biomass industry conference in late March. The atmosphere was very positive, and unlike other events where there is substantial uncertainty, the companies and participants were nearly uniformly optimistic about the state of the industry. A couple of companies were openly discussing filing for IPOs in late 2010 or early 2011. They seemed to be realistic goals. Many of the companies in attendance were pleased with the fact that the timeframe for DOE grants, after having slown down the industry as a whole, has been met and that money from that sector is flowing. Private market participants indicated that this would help them fund companies.
Clean technology is a growing and substantial area of interest for investors, entrepreneurs, innovators and governments. Billions of dollars are invested annually in the development and exploitation of new clean technology. Many new start-up companies have been founded solely on the basis of new clean technology. The success of all of these efforts will substantially depend on the efficacy of the intellectual property (IP) protection efforts surrounding the new clean technology.
On April 21, 2010, an event featuring an exciting new investment sector is taking place at Austin City Hall. The Slow Money Showcase is a half-day event aimed at informing the investment community about opportunities in the sustainable and local food sector. We believe that entrepreneurs and venture capitalists interested in clean technology or sustainable investing should consider attending this event. The genesis of this event came out of the recent Agriculture 2.0 conference. According to Paul Matteucci of US Venture Partners, “Feeding nearly 10 billion people by 2050—without destroying the planet—poses both a daunting problem and an enormous investment opportunity.” The Slow Money Showcase happening in Austin wants to ensure that Texas entrepreneurs and investors are informed of the opportunities in this emerging sector.
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