CJK: Solving PM2.5

Signatories at the 15th Tri-Partite Meeting

Signatories at the 15th Tri-Partite Meeting

PM2.5, which are particulate matters less than 2.5 microns, are perhaps the most important type of environmental air pollution in Asia. Driven by high economic growth, coal plants, particularly those from China, give off these particulates. The problem is so serious that Korea and Japan are directly affected by this pollution. In fact, these matter are able to travel across the Pacific Ocean and contributed to a large part of the pollution in North America.

In spite of the political posturing taking place between Japan and Korea and China, the governments are actively working to address this challenge. Hosted by Ministry of Environment of Korea, the Environmental Ministers Meeting among Korea, China and Japan at the end of this April to implement an initiative on enhancing environmental cooperation and dialogue. The meeting resulted in a communique that was signed by Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara, Chinese Vice Environmental Protection Minister Li Ganjie and South Korean Environment Minister Yoon Seong-kyu at the end of their two-day talk in the South Korean city of Daegu. 写真-3Under the agreement, Japan and South Korea will offer technical assistance and support to China for the import, development, production, and deployment of technology for reducing the volatile organic compounds (VOC) that are PM2.5.

A simultaneous Business Forum was held in which  50 (21 delegations and 29 observers) participants from the three countries participated in the meeting. Japanese representatives introduced corporate activities related to reducing CO2 emission, and products that are energy- and resource- efficient. Concepts such as the Smart House and Communities were shown with model sites in Japan and China shown. One Japanese company introduced solutions and actual activities for water pollution management while a Chinese company shown activities in the “venous” industry such as solid waste resource, urban mining and hazardous waste disposal. The Korean representatives introduced their concepts of water / waste water treatment plants, biological treatment, landfill reclamation, and waste sorting and recycling, etc.

In one of the panel discussions, the participants discussed the roles played by the governments in waste management and how that differed from the role of private environmental businesses.  They also highlighted the technology developed and used on water reuse in Northeast Asia and how these can be utilized in other countries. In addition, the role of government in landfill management was emphasized and how governments should play a role in this aspect of the environment.

A Cleantech State of the Union

With October now upon us, data providers are beginning to issue their preliminary analyses of cleantech investment in the third quarter of 2012 that just closed. This quarter, the Clean Energy pipeline service of London’s VBResearch is the first to weigh in, counting cleantech venture capital & private equity investment (excluding buyouts) as approximately $1.7 billion.

Data from other providers, like Dow Jones VentureSourceBloomberg New Energy FinancePwC/NVCA MoneyTree, and Cleantech Group will follow in the coming days. No two providers’ numbers will be the same, given differences in how they define cleantech and what exactly they track.

Based on latest quantitative and qualitative data we at Kachan & Co. have access to, here’s our own analysis of the state of the union in the global cleantech market, and why.

Consider the following a snapshot of the current health of the cleantech sector, informed by—but not simply an analysis of—the third quarter numbers.

3Q12 investment is expected to be approximately the same as the one previous. Venture investment in cleantech is going to be down overall this year over last.
The second quarters of the year in cleantech are usually down, if you look at historical data—so a relatively poor 2Q12 was no surprise—but third quarters are historically usually the best quarter of the year for global cleantech investment. Based on deals we’ve seen, we’re expecting about $2b in venture investment in global cleantech in the third quarter of this year once all the data is in, and that sometimes takes a few month after the quarter closes. $2b is not great, as compared to previous years on record, but it’s okay. It’s not as if cleantech investment has halted. Cleantech is still one of the world’s dominant investment themes.

For interest, some of the largest deals of the quarter:

  • $200m to China Auto Rental, efficiency/collaborative consumption, Beijing
  • $136m to, efficiency/smart grid, Virginia
  • $104 to Elevance Renewable Sciences, biochemistry, Illinois
  • $104 to Fiskar Automotive, transportation, Irvine CA
  • $93M to Element Materials Technology, advanced materials, the Netherlands

Venture #s aren’t just down because of natural gas.
Last year, we predicted global venture and investment into cleantech to fall. Not dramatically. But we expected cleantech venture in 2012 to show its first decline following the recovery from the financial crash of 2008. Why? Three big reasons: the lag time of negative investor sentiment towards cleantech that started in 2011, waning policy support for cleantech in the developed world and an overall maturation of the sector that’s making it arguably less dependent on venture capital as corporations take a more significant role.

When you the continued low price of natural gas undermining clean energy innovation and project deployment, it should be no surprise that cleantech metrics are down.

But while the price of natural gas is one of the reasons cleantech is depressed, it doesn’t mean the end of the line for the whole of the space. Natural gas is eroding the compellingness of clean energy, but cleantech is more than just energy. Cleantech, as defined, is much broader, and includes transportation, agriculture and other categories that may actually see benefit from lower natural gas prices.

Plus, there are natural gas innovations that could be key to the success of future renewable energy. Renewable natural gas—gas from non-fossil-based sources—could end up the most important form of renewable energy, because it could be distributed in today’s transmission infrastructure, and help utilities generate baseload renewable power without solar or wind, or expensive renewable energy storage. Kachan & Co. has published a report in conjunction with a gas company that profiles seven firms at the forefront of generating large quantities of pipeline-grade renewable natural gas from biomass, based in Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the U.S. and Canada.

With venture down, pay attention to the increasingly important role of corporations in cleantech. Large global multinationals are increasingly participating as clean technology investors, incubators and acquirers. With the largest companies worldwide sitting on trillions in cash, the climate is right for increased corporate multinational M&A, investment in and purchases from cleantech companies. Corporations have become the source of cleantech capital to pay closest attention to going forward.

Investors are worried about returns in cleantech; some are distancing themselves from the sector. Will that leave governments and large corporations to help companies through the valley of commercialization death?
Not all cleantech investments have worked out as planned. Investors are still waiting for their cleantech portfolios to produce expected returns. Why? Many cleantech investments are still sitting in managers’ portfolios waiting for an exit.

The cleantech exit environment is indeed suffering. The North American and European IPO markets remain shut, while public exits are alive and well in China. There were 9 clean technology IPOs raising a total of $1.79 billion in 2Q12, the last quarter for which data is publicly available at this writing, and ALL of them took place in China. We first raised alarms about this trend a couple of years ago. It’s the major area of concern for investors currently. And cleantech mergers and acquisitions are still depressed. Global cleantech M&A activity totaled $16.3 billion in 3Q12, according to VBResearch. That’s a 68% increase on the $9.7 billion in 2Q12 but a 30% decrease on the $23.2 billion recorded in the same period last year.

Of the capital that is being deployed, less of it is going to early stage deals. Venture investment in early stage cleantech rounds fell to a mere $382 million in 3Q12, the lowest quarterly volume since 2009, by today’s Clean Energy pipeline numbers. The large year-on-year decrease was caused by an absence of large solar deals, according to the company.

Limited partners (LPs), the institutions that fund venture capital firms, are less enthusiastic about cleantech today. Why? Mixed returns. The 5-year old CalPERS Clean Energy and Technology Fund, a fund-of-funds-type program, had a net internal rate of return since inception of -10% on $331.7 million invested as of Dec. 31, 2011, the last period for which data is available, according to data obtained by Pensions & Investments. Contrast that with the performance of Riverstone/Carlyle Renewable and Alternative Energy II. While only some $172 million of its $300 million commitment in September 2008 has actually been invested, the pension fund has seen a 12% net IRR from the investment as of Dec. 31, 2011. CalPERS’ $25 million commitment to VantagePoint CleanTech Partners LP, made in 2006, has earned a 12.4% net IRR—again, according to Pensions & Investments.

Most cleantech investors will have heard of Moore’s Law. Now some are learning, if they hadn’t known of it by name previously, of Sturgeon’s Law, that ‘90% of everything is cr*p.’ Which, unfortunately, but clearly, also applies to cleantech investments.

It begs the question: If venture investing is down and large corporations are taking more of a role in fostering cleantech innovation, can they and governments (which we argue should get out of the business of funding cleantech companies) be trusted to support emerging cleantech innovation as it struggles to reach meaningful commercial scale and availability? Increasingly, venture investors are proving reluctant to play this role in cleantech, given the large sums required.

What will propel cleantech’s success.
While much has been written about how global policy support has waned in cleantech, a silver lining is to be found in Japan. Japan’s new feed-in tariffs are among the most impressive the planet has yet seen, even more so than Germany’s former solar support. Japan is showing signs of helping breathe life back into the solar sector in an important way (download this free report that details Japan’s newfound commitment to cleantech.)

Say what you will about the murkiness of the future of clean energy, the fundamental drivers of the wider cleantech market persist. The sheer sizes of the addressable markets many cleantech companies target, and the possibilities for massive associated returns, will continue to spur innovation and support for the sector. Why? The world is still running out of the raw materials it needs. Some countries value their energy independence. More than ever, economies need to do more with less. Oh, and there’s that climate thing.

Cleantech is the future, undeniably. It can’t NOT be. We need to reinvent every major infrastructure system on the planet, from energy to agriculture to water to transportation and more. And we have to live more efficiently to accommodate more people than ever. Large corporations see record opportunity for profits in doing this—and that’s what’s going to be the biggest driver of clean technology, we believe, institutional investment hiccups aside.

Don’t focus too much on quarterly ups and downs.
Finally, note that quarterly numbers are a good leading indicator of transitions. But there’s a danger in reading too much into quarterly figures, and lumpiness of individual quarters, which are easily skewed by large individual deals.

This article was originally published here and was reposted with permission.


A former managing director of the Cleantech Group, Dallas Kachan is now managing partner of Kachan & Co., a cleantech research and advisory firm that does business worldwide from San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver. Kachan & Co. staff have been covering, publishing about and helping propel clean technology since 2006. Kachan & Co. offers cleantech research reports, consulting and other services that help accelerate its clients’ success in clean technology. Details at

The End of Nuclear Power? Or Just the Beginning?

This week’s news: US NRC freezes decisions on new reactor, license renewal applications

“The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted unanimously Tuesday not to issue final decisions on granting licenses to build new nuclear power reactors and 20-year license renewals to existing ones, pending resolution of the agency’s waste confidence rule overturned by a court in June.

The commissioners, however, also ordered that NRC review of these license applications continue and that the agency’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel not accept or deny new challenges that may be filed in these proceedings relating to waste storage issues.”

Nukes in the US not dead of course, but the revival still on hold?


The post Fukushima nuclear future in Japan?  Still shut down, the replacement generation fleet still a patchwork.  The future is . . .?


And Germany?  Trying to get out of nukes puts intense pressure on gas (from Russia), renewables, and the grid.  As well as adds costs. Prognosis unclear.


Has Fukushima changed China’s nuclear energy ambitions? Or just its technology choices?


And exactly what are the costs for nuclear?  I will say generally, that on a cents per kwh basis, the broad lowering of interest rates benefits nukes better than any other form of power but hydro, given the combination of high portion of the of costs from the capital, and the high capacity factor.


So is the end of nuclear power’s 50 year challenge to coal power insight?  Or are we on the verge of a resurgence?  Situation unclear at best.

Sunetric Offers Free Solar PV Systems to Raise Money for Japan

HONOLULU—, and — Sunetric, Hawaii’s largest locally owned and operated solar installer, has donated two solar photovoltaic systems to raise funds for two local charities assisting Japan. The first is the American Red Cross Hawaii State Chapter and the second is the “With Aloha” Foundation. Donations raised through the website will go directly to the American Red Cross Hawaii State Chapter and the “With Aloha” Foundation to aid in the relief efforts. Donors of $10 or more will automatically be entered to win one of the solar arrays. Winners for both PV systems will be drawn live on ESPN radio’s Bobby Curran Show on Monday, May 2.

More than 12,100 people have been confirmed dead and nearly a half million people are homeless in the wake of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit north-east Japan on March 11. Funds are urgently needed for food, water, medicine, shelter and clothing. The first donation benefits American Red Cross relief efforts in Japan. The American Red Cross has been a primary source of support for the residents in the wake of the disasters in Japan. “We are so grateful to Sunetric for their compassion in this time of great tragedy. Their efforts in raising much needed funds for the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake & Pacific Tsunami relief effort will help us save lives and give hope to those in need. We cannot thank them enough for their wonderful contribution to the cause of humanity,” said Coralie Matayoshi, CEO of the American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter.

The second donated PV system supports the “With Aloha” Foundation which is holding a fundraiser on April 9 at the Pagoda Hotel. Presented by aio, the fundraiser is a block party, benefit concert, and food tasting featuring 24 local restaurants and entertainers from around the world. Proceeds from this event, along with donations raised by the solar giveaway, will be sent to Tohoku University Hospital in Sendai, Japan, where many of the earthquake and tsunami victims are receiving care.

“We are so thankful for Sunetric’s generosity in donating not one, but two, photovoltaic systems to help raise funds for the victims of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami,” said Susan Eichor, aio President & COO. “With Aloha is a community inspired movement of Hawaii organizations coming together and helping those in need. We are humbled to partner with companies like Sunetric to support Japan …With Aloha.”

The $15,000 solar arrays are projected to save an average household more than $100 per month. Both donated systems are identical and offer ten Trina PV panels of 230 Watts per panel. They come with 3000W Centralized Inverters and 25-year production warranties. The systems must be installed on the island of Oahu, but winners can transfer their prizes to a friend or family member. Donors to the Japan relief efforts will automatically be entered to win. To register, go to For every $10 donation, one entry to the drawing will be given. For $20, two entries will be given and so on. No purchase or donation is necessary.

“As a local company, Sunetric is proud to be involved in the effort to provide help and kokua for Japan,” said Sunetric Founder Sean Mullen. “Through this partnership, Oahu residents can make a difference for Japan’s people, while also getting an opportunity to switch to solar.”

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross, a humanitarian organization led by volunteers and guided by its Congressional Charter and the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross Movement, provides relief to victims of disaster and helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.

About aio:

aio is a family of businesses specializing in media, technology, sports and food. Media include: Hawaii Business, Island Family, Honolulu, Hawaii Home + Remodeling, Hawai‘i, Hawaii-Ai, Ala Moana and Whalers Village magazines; Hawaii Buyer’s Guide and Lei Chic (online newsletter)and ESPN 1400 and 1500 AM (radio). Other aio companies include: Watermark Publishing (books), Obun Hawaii Group (printing), Upspring Media (software and websites), Talisman LBS (mobile marketing), B. Hayman Co. (commercial turf), Punalu‘u Bake Shop, Hukilau Honolulu Restaurant, Nutricopia (food) and HWB Foundation.

About Sunetric:

Founded in 2004 by Sean and Beth-Ann Mullen, Sunetric is Hawaii’s largest locally owned and operated solar installer. Since its inception, Sunetric has designed and installed more PV than any other company in the state and is responsible for nearly 60,000 solar panels and 12.5 megawatts of solar installed across all islands, providing the equivalent greenhouse gas benefit of taking 3,000 vehicles off Hawaii roads each year. Hawaii’s first SunPower Elite dealer, Sunetric has installed several of the largest photovoltaic systems in Hawaii, including Kona Commons shopping center on the Big Island, Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Kauai, and Y. Hata on Oahu. Visit for more information.

Sunetric’s Solar PV giveaways benefit American Red Cross and “With Aloha” Foundation

Who: American Red Cross Hawaii State Chapter, “With Aloha” Foundation and Sunetric.

What: Online Giveaway of two (2) donated $15,000 solar photovoltaic systems ($30,000 total).

Why: To support the victims of Japan’s disasters through the American Red Cross Hawaii State Chapter and “With Aloha” Foundation.

How: Register at No purchase or donation necessary. Every $10 donation automatically gets one entry to the drawing; every $20 gets two entries, and so on.

When: Register online now through May 1. Winners will be drawn live on ESPN radio’s Bobby Curran Show on Monday, May 2.

• Value: $15,000
• Ten 230W Modules
• Brand of Panel: TRINA
• Unirac Sunframe Compression Racking System
• 3000W Centralized Inverter
• $105.28 per month savings
• $1,263.36 per year savings
• Installation and permitting included for the island of Oahu
• Giveaway transferrable on the island of Oahu
• Installation must begin on or before May 1, 2012

• 5 Years for the module
• 25 Years for production

FOR MEDIA ONLY: For an electronic version of these documents or images, please contact Julie Ford at (808) 593-2890 or

Interview with Dr. Frank Ling on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

Our longtime portal manager, and editor of the weekly newsletter is a researcher at one of the top climate change research institutes in the world, where among other projects he is editing a book on climate change. He was recently inteviewed by Green Japan on the subject of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Dr. Frank Ling on Climate Change

Frank Hiroshi Ling is a climate policy researcher. In this part of interview, he talks about what brought him to this area and analyzes the results and solutions of climate change. With the help of policy and technology, what can we and the government do to help solve climate change issue and other issues?

Frank’s bio, for those of you who haven’t met him.

Frank Hiroshi Ling is a climate policy researcher and entrepreneur. He has extensive experience in scientific research, environmental and energy policy, and media. Currently based in Japan, he is a researcher in climate adaptation at Institute for Global Change Adaptation Science (ICAS) at Ibaraki University. He also works with IGES as an editor of the forthcoming book “Transition to Low Carbon, Climate Resilient Asia: Opportunities and Challenges.”

Dr. Ling is also the host and co-creator of the Groks Science Show, a highly humorous and popular radio and podcast program, with Dr. Charles Lee. In addition, Frank oversees Cleantech.Org, a web portal for catalyzing investments in new technologies that promote environmental sustainability.

Dr. Ling received his Ph.D. from the Department of Chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory and at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Frank received his Bachelors of Science in Chemical Engineering from Caltech and his MS degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has received numerous awards for his research and contributions to science education. In 2006, he received the Mass Media Fellowship Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has also been a Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.