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 […]

Cleantech Venture Investing: On the Deathbed or Merely Resting?

Two weeks ago, I sat on a panel of eminent (that is, other than myself) cleantech venture capitalists at the New England Venture Summit to discuss our sector as we approach the end of 2012. The basic theme being explored was whether we should be optimistic or pessimistic about the current state of affairs for […]

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 […]

Chicago: Battery Central

At the end of November, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it had selected Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago to host the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), and bestowed upon it a $120 million grant over 5 years, alongside a $35 million commitment for a new 45,000 square foot facility from […]

Cleantech to “Backtrack” in 2013?

Our firm, Kachan & Co., has just published its latest annual set of predictions for the cleantech sector for the year ahead. To our analysis, 2013 is shaping up to be something of a year of backtracking for the cleantech industry, a year that calls into question some of its traditional leading indicators of health, and […]

Open Letter, Closed Minds

Last week, 129 signatories sent an open letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, that said in part: “Current scientific knowledge does not substantiate your assertions” recently made that climate change is causing more extreme weather events (such as last month’s disastrous Hurricane Sandy), and that the cost of continued inaction […]

Cultivating Agricultural Cleantech

An expanding world population, coupled with increasing concerns about resource scarcity, land availability, biodiversity conservation and global warming is fostering interest in sustainable agriculture technologies. Large companies and clean technology investors are focused on energy, and some are following water. Yet very few are tracking opportunities in breakthrough clean and green agricultural technology. And that […]

Electric Cars are a Niche? Or Able to Beat Conventionals?

Are electric cars a Niche?  Or just coming into their own?  I’ve been asked that question twice now in the last week in various forms, so thought I’d blog my answer. Electric Drive Transportation Association has the total number of US sales at just under 400,000 this year, or 3.3% market share including hybrids.  Hybrids they […]

Betting on Black Swans

The phrase “Black Swan” was coined in the book of the same name by author Nassim Taleb to describe an event that is hugely important and influential that was not anticipated but yet in retrospect could have been. September 11, 2001 is a classic example of a Black Swan.  It was only a failure of […]

The Deeper Meaning of Sandy

Watching the video feeds from the New York and New Jersey areas in the wake of Sandy reminded me of the images seven years ago from New Orleans being decimated by Katrina. Other than perhaps providing a warning not to call a particular geographic area “New” anything, what do these storms tell us? Like Katrina […]

The Proper Role of Government in Energy

Since tomorrow’s election is heavily focused on the appropriate scope of government, I have spent a little time lately reflecting upon the proper role of government in the energy sector. In regards to the U.S. Presidential race, I will refrain from analyzing the respective policies and stances concerning energy of the two candidates.  This recent […]

A123 Goes 3,2,1,0

On October 12, the lithium-ion battery maker A123 (NASDAQ: AONE) essentially ran the white flag up the pole:  filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, agreeing to sell its automotive-related assets to Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI), and fielding bids for its grid-storage business. This is a big come-down from a company that not long ago had a […]

Midwestern Sensibilities: Report from North Central Cleantech Open

Last week, I served as a judge for the North Central regional contest of the Cleantech Open in Minneapolis. The Cleantech Open is a annual contest to identify the most promising cleantech ventures from across the U.S. (along with some foreign entries).  This year’s event will be held on November 8-9 in San Jose.  Advancing […]

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