Water: The Big Issue for Fracking

On February 13, the Cleveland office of the law firm McDonald Hopkins hosted a panel to discuss the pivotal water issues facing producers of oil/gas from shale via fracking.  In addition to three MH attorneys, the panel also included Jeff Dick (Director of the Natural Gas and Water Resource Institute at Youngstown State University), Samuel […]

The Powerful Capabilities of AEP’s Dolan Labs

Thanks to the efforts of Chris Mather, co-head of the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center, I was able to gain a tour of the Dolan Laboratories, located just outside Columbus, owned and operated by American Electric Power (NYSE:  AEP). This facility is now highly unusual for the electric utility industry.  Back in the day, a […]

Student Cleantech Entrepreneurship in the Buckeye State

On January 29, I spent a day inside a ballroom on The Ohio State University campus in Columbus serving as a judge for the Ohio Clean Energy Challenge, presented by the University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio and NorTech.  This contest pitted student teams from universities and colleges across Ohio pitching their clean energy business […]

EPRI’s View on Emerging Technologies

Writing in the January issue of POWER magazine, Arshad Mansoor (Senior Vice President of Research and Development at the Electric Power Research Institute) authored an article entitled “Emerging Technologies Enable ‘No Regrets’ Energy Strategy” to provide a soup-to-nuts vision of the future technology landscape for the electric power industry. I don’t know that it’s possible […]

Goldman, The Contrarian?

“I’m a contrarian, so when everyone else is capitulating, I think it’s time to invest.” So says Stuart Bernstein, the partner in charge of cleantech at Goldman Sachs (NYSE:  GS), in this recent article about the ending slump of renewable energy financing. “It feels like the worst is behind us…The market appears to have troughed […]

Batteries Are Hot! (Just Ask Boeing)

Boeing (NYSE: BA) may soon be on the verge of renaming its new 787 the Nightmareliner… After a prolonged development program and costly production delays, Boeing started delivering its latest state-of-the-art airplane just 15 months ago, three years behind schedule.  Although the company has a lucrative backlog of nearly 800 787s on order, worth roughly […]

Why is it So Hard to Make Money in New Battery Technology?

Energy storage is still the rage in cleantech.  But after the collapse of A123 and Beacon, and the spectacular failure on the Fisker Karma in its Consumer Reports tests, fire  in Hawaii with Xtreme Power’s lead acid grid storage system and with NGK’s sodium sulphur system, and now battery problems grounding the Boeing Dreamliners, investors […]

How To Fail In Cleantech

The transition to cleantech – some would call it a revolution – inevitably entails change, which implies risk.  In turn, this implies that some things will fail. We’ve already seen more than a few failures, and we’ll no doubt see many more. As long as the successes outweigh the failures, that’s all that ultimately matters.  […]

Is the Avis / ZipCar Acquisition Green?

I am selling my little Honda in California, since I moved to Texas two years ago, I left a car in San Francisco to drive when I’m here. So I’d been looking into getting car share.  Absolutely loving the concept, been trying to figure out if it is a better deal for me than renting […]

Energy Cache: Avoiding Cleantech’s Catch-22

Recently, I came across this very interesting thought-piece, “Cleantech Marketing Isn’t IT Marketing”, written by Aaron Fike, the founder and CEO of Energy Cache. Energy Cache has developed a rather unusual energy storage technology.  As described here, Energy Cache is offering a solution that is a hybrid of ski-lifts and mining technology, hauling gravel in […]

A Crystal Ball for 2013

Happy new year everyone.  As we reflect upon the year now past us, it’s also that time of year to look ahead. For the cleantech sector, Dallas Kachan from Kachan & Co. recently put his neck on the line with his “Predictions for Cleantech in 2013”.  It’s a good read, well-reasoned.  The sound-bite version: Cleantech […]

A Dose of Lithium

For those who want an overview of the current state of the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery sector, the fall 2012 issue of Batteries International is just the thing. It’s not a pretty picture that’s painted.  Beyond the well-publicized bankruptcies of A123 and Ener1, the general sentiment espoused is that players in the Li-ion sector face tough […]

Cap and Trade for Traffic

Great article today on a study suggesting that traffic congestion is created by the marginal driver, and more interesting, from the marginal driver from specific and predictable locations.  Maybe 1% of commuters leaving from specific neighborhoods have a big increase on traffic congestion and commute time for everyone. The link to the study is here. We dealt […]

The Economics of Cleantech Investing

I drafted this memo in early 2003 for a venture capitalist friend of mine, well before the bubble in cleantech.  In light of the back and forth on the recent Solar City IPO, I thought it was worth revisiting.  Some of the points were pretty prescient, calling out many of the challenges cleantech investors and […]