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NREL Forum Talk

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The cleantech roller coaster ride, and why you should still be excited about it.

The cleantech roller coaster ride, and why you should still be excited about it.


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  • For full Biden GIF enjoyment put in slide show mode
  • Alternative title
  • Me, I get a growing number of readers from Twitter these days
  • In 2006 I joined GigaOM as the first employee and for the first year I was writing about wireless technology and broadband.
  • Example of a typical story of first year at GigaOM. Mountain View Google free WiFi network.
  • Decided writing about wireless and broadband wasn’t all that satisfying in 2006. Looking for something new.
  • Here’s the trends I saw in 2006. Despite dotcom bust, venture capitalists have money to spend and looking for the next big thing.
  • CA AB 32, 2006. Schwarzenegger as the green governor.
  • The Valley’s premier VC firm making major bet on cleantech.
  • How I felt in early 2007, I’ve found it: cleantech.
  • Launched GigaOM’s green channel.
  • Cleantech startup and funding movement growing rapidly from 2006 to 2008.
  • First wave of capital intensive cleantech startups. Electric car companies like Tesla and Fisker.
  • Wave of thin film solar startups, like Miasole.
  • Yikes.
  • Recession hit some of these first wave, capital intensive, cleantech startups hard. Some survived, some didn’t
  • Stimulus package enters to support cleantech.
  • Cheap natural gas emerges and makes some clean power uneconomical as an investment.
  • Dropping silicon prices upend solar industry, solar panels super cheap, but startups, like the first wave thin film solar startups, on the wrong side of cost curve.
  • A bankrupt Solyndra sells this banner for $400 in an auction.
  • Cleantech becomes officially politicized.
  • Venture returns are not all that impressive for cleantech
  • While many VCs betting on web and mobile are making tons of money.
  • WTF
  • But. . . .why you shouldn’t be so depressed about it.
  • Climate change already happening
  • Population boom in developing countries will be the future of clean power generation and also managing of resources efficiently in cities.
  • Opportunity for entrepreneurs in India, China.
  • Energy efficiency opportunities in China. Smart grid investment in China will be massive.
  • China is starting to dominate clean power financing.
  • And Chinese conglomerates making investments in low cost assets, or buying them outright (up until lately A123 and Wanxiang)
  • One of the biggest opportunities in the U.S. is the rapid installation of solar panels.
  • Capitallite and business model innovation is working.
  • The Clean Web movement is emerging.
  • Clean Web example.
  • However, perhaps Clean Web will be cleantechlite. Won’t be as disruptive.
  • Turns out Internet companies are great customers. They buy low power stuff and even clean power.
  • Facebook’s energy efficient data center.
  • Apple’s massive solar farm in North Carolina.
  • Corporate partners, and also corporate investors, will dominate cleantech of tomorrow.
  • ARPA-E seems like a good model. But tiny right now. Needs to be bigger.
  • Advice for where to find money for cleantech startup.
  • Whole idea of cleantech is changing. Not a cohesive vertical.
  • One thing that can help public perception of cleantech: if extreme weather continues, public will demand action.
  • Need success stories that are big wins, cool, good brands, make people money and employ people.
  • Transcript

    • 1. The story of the cleantech rollercoaster ride And why you should still be excited about cleantech
    • 2. John Doerr’s TED Talk 2007
    • 3. Cleantech!
    • 4. Recession
    • 5. Tastes great, less filling
    • 6. Advice wrap up: Capital lite Trust in the overall resource trends Business model innovation Clean Web Find solid customers – Internet companies Corporate partners China ARPA-E
    • 7. How to get in touch with me:Email = katie@gigaom.comTwitter = @katiefehren