Clean Tech Revolution: The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity

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When industry giants such as GE, Toyota, and Sharp and investment firms such as Goldman Sachs are making multibillion-dollar investments in clean technology, the message is clear. Developing clean technologies is no longer a social issue championed by environmentalists; it's a moneymaking enterprise moving solidly into the business mainstream. In fact, as the economy faces unprecedented challenges from high energy prices, resource shortages, and global environmental and security threats, clean tech—technologies ...

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The Clean Tech Revolution: Winning and Profiting from Clean Energy

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Overview

When industry giants such as GE, Toyota, and Sharp and investment firms such as Goldman Sachs are making multibillion-dollar investments in clean technology, the message is clear. Developing clean technologies is no longer a social issue championed by environmentalists; it's a moneymaking enterprise moving solidly into the business mainstream. In fact, as the economy faces unprecedented challenges from high energy prices, resource shortages, and global environmental and security threats, clean tech—technologies designed to provide superior performance at a lower cost while creating significantly less waste than conventional offerings—promises to be the next engine of economic growth.

In The Clean Tech Revolution, authors Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder identify the major forces that have pushed clean tech from back-to-the-earth utopian dream to its current revolution among the inner circles of corporate boardrooms, on Wall Street trading floors, and in government offices around the globe. By highlighting eight major clean-tech sectors—solar energy, wind power, biofuels and biomaterials, green buildings, personal transportation, the smart grid, mobile applications, and water filtration—they uncover how investors, entrepreneurs, and individuals can profit from this next wave of technological innovation. Pernick and Wilder shine the spotlight on the winners among technologies, companies, and regions that are likely to reap the greatest benefits from clean tech—and they show you why the time to act is now.

Groundbreaking and authoritative, The Clean Tech Revolution is the must-read book to understand and profit from the clean technologies that are reshaping our fast-changing world.

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Editorial Reviews

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“[A] clear, intelligently written roadmap to this new frontier. . . . particularly valuable to entrepreneurs, individual investors and venture capitalists.”
BusinessWeek.com
A readable, straightforward guide to earth-friendly business strategies.
Newsweek
“Enthusiasm for Clean Tech, which the authors define as anything that increases performance while reducing waste, has moved into..mainstream. ”
The Motley Fool
For individual investors interested in profiting from this opportunity, The Clean Tech Revolution offers an excellent overview.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060896232
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/12/2007
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Ron Pernick is cofounder and managing director of Clean Edge, a leading clean-tech research and advisory firm, is coauthor of the book The Clean Tech Revolution, and has co-produced the annual Clean-Tech Investor Summit. He also manages the company's stock and leadership index products and services and is a consultant for governments, corporations, and entrepreneurs. Pernick is widely cited in the media, and lectures at industry events in the U.S. and abroad. He has taught MBA-level courses at New College and Portland State University. He lives with his wife and two children in Portland, Oregon.

Clint Wilder is senior editor at Clean Edge and coauthor of The Clean Tech Revolution. He is an award-winning business journalist who has covered the high-tech and clean-tech industries since 1985. He coauthors reports and writes columns on industry trends for Clean Edge and has been a facilitator at the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a frequent speaker at clean-energy and green business events in the U.S. and overseas, and a regular blogger for the Huffington Post. He lives with his wife in Sausalito, California.

Clint Wilder is senior editor at Clean Edge and coauthor of The Clean Tech Revolution. He is an award-winning business journalist who has covered the high-tech and clean-tech industries since 1985. He coauthors reports and writes columns on industry trends for Clean Edge and has been a facilitator at the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a frequent speaker at clean-energy and green business events in the U.S. and overseas, and a regular blogger for the Huffington Post. He lives with his wife in Sausalito, California.

Ron Pernick is cofounder and managing director of Clean Edge, a leading clean-tech research and advisory firm, is coauthor of the book The Clean Tech Revolution, and has co-produced the annual Clean-Tech Investor Summit. He also manages the company's stock and leadership index products and services and is a consultant for governments, corporations, and entrepreneurs. Pernick is widely cited in the media, and lectures at industry events in the U.S. and abroad. He has taught MBA-level courses at New College and Portland State University. He lives with his wife and two children in Portland, Oregon.

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Read an Excerpt

The Clean Tech Revolution
The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity

Chapter One

Solar Energy

Scaling Up Manufacturing and Driving Down Costs

Above the tree-lined streets of Pasadena, California, in the sleek, open-air offices of high-tech start-up incubator Idealab, a team of researchers is huddled around a strange-looking device that concentrates the light of the sun and generates on-site electricity. Bill Gross, Idealab's founder and the CEO of upstart concentrating-solar PV company Energy Innovations, beams with the nerdy excitement of a computer programmer who's just created a nifty chunk of code or a biologist who's uncovered a new genome. "The economic potential for solar is enormous," says Gross. "Within a decade, solar will reach price parity with other energy sources." His vision is to replicate Idealab's rooftop, where a dozen solar-concentrator demo units track the sun from dawn to dusk. He wants Energy Innovations units sprouting on commercial and industrial roofs around the world, providing low-cost, efficient, distributed electric power from the sun.

Gross, whose Idealab hatched such Internet winners and losers as Citysearch, eToys, Overture, and Tickets.com, is now in a race to develop his solar technology and bring it to market before other firms, such as Practical Instruments, SolFocus, and Solaria. He firmly believes that the future belongs to those who can help solve two of our world's most pressing issues, energy and water—global access to clean, reliable, and abundant sources of each. His solar technology company—which aims to use relatively inexpensive mirrors to reflect the light of thesun onto expensive high-efficiency solar cells—raised more than $40 million in 2005 and 2006, with hopes of putting its first commercial products onto rooftops in 2007.

Energy Innovations represents just one of the many technological developments taking place in the rapidly expanding solar industry. These developments include everything from incremental improvements in the most abundant form of solar electricity—silicon-based solar PV—to new nonsilicon forms of solar electric generation, including nanotechnology-based innovations and CIGS (copper, indium, gallium, selenium). The variety of emerging solar electric technologies and applications demonstrates the richness of opportunity in an industry expanding by more than 30% per year since the mid-1990s.

What does this mean for investors, entrepreneurs, and others who want a piece of the growing solar pie? The solar business, once the domain of back-to-the-earth zealots and government and corporate research labs, is now being embraced by nimble, visionary entrepreneurs with access to capital, skilled management, and business acumen. Also joining the race are established multinationals such as Applied Materials, GE, and Sharp—companies that are basing their future, at least in part, on corporate spoils in the solar industry.

Rapid Fire

Part of the growing interest in solar power has to do with the sector's astounding growth rate. In 2000, the total annual manufacturing output of all solar companies was about 300 MW. In 2005, solar industry manufacturing output rose almost fivefold to more than 1,500 MW of solar PV modules and surpassed 2,000 MW in 2006. That's enough electricity-generating capacity to serve two cities the size of Atlanta for an entire year.

The entry of multinationals and large, well-funded, publicly traded solar companies into the space provides opportunities for individual and institutional investors to put money into some of the more promising companies and developments. In 2005 and 2006, for example, solar companies such as SunPower and China's Suntech Power Holdings had successful initial public offerings on U.S. stock exchanges and global giants such as Applied Materials joined longtime corporate solar stalwarts such as BP and Sharp.

Although current solar power costs can be prohibitive in some regions, solar systems can make a great deal of sense in regions that have high-utility costs, offer solar subsidies, or are blessed with a preponderance of sunny days—offering opportunities to a new class of systems integrators and financiers. As we discuss below, some companies are packaging systems and financing in such a way that solar can cost less for the customer from first day of use—including builders of new homes who are integrating solar systems into mortgages and firms that have developed unique financing options.

The solar landscape is filling up with a range of new companies and business models, offering opportunities for qualified entrepreneurs, managers, and workers to join current efforts in solar manufacturing, financing, installation, systems integration, and elsewhere along the solar value chain.

Solar's challenges, however, are many. They include entrenched interests that support fossil fuels over clean energy, shortsighted rather than long-term policies and incentives that disrupt growth, nonuniformity among utility districts that makes consistent standards and protocols nearly impossible, and cost barriers that have kept solar from reaching cost parity with retail electric rates. But like any high-growth technology innovation story, solar is in a unique position to overcome many of these challenges and change the world in ways unimaginable.

Bringing Solar Down to Earth

Invented at Bell Labs in the 1950s and commercialized in the 1970s, solar PV has moved from a niche industry powering space satellites to a mainstream business with such well-known multinational players as BP, GE, Sharp, and Shell and pure-play efforts such as Evergreen Solar, First Solar, Q-Cells, SunPower, and Suntech Power. Since the mid-1990s, the industry has looked eerily similar to the consumer electronics revolution that preceded it—with annual growth rates in the 30% to 60% range.

Solar is becoming big business, representing more than $11 billion in global sales in 2005, more than $15 billion in 2006, and a projected $60 billion–plus in 2016, according to Clean Edge research. In 2005, venture capitalists poured more than $150 million into deals based in North America, such as Advent Solar, HelioVolt, Energy Innovations, Miasolé, and Nanosolar. Nearly $1 billion was raised via initial public offerings (IPOs) in Europe and the United States for SunPower, Suntech Power, and Q-Cells; those companies' IPOs represented three of the largest technology offerings of 2005.

Piper Jaffray clean-energy analyst Jesse Pichel highlights what the excitement is about. "Our investment partners like solar because it leverages advances made in the semiconductor space," he says. "Our investors understand semiconductors—and are therefore more comfortable with solar than many other emerging energy sectors."

The Clean Tech Revolution
The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity
. Copyright © by Ron Pernick. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

The Clean Tech Revolution
The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity

Chapter One

Solar Energy

Scaling Up Manufacturing and Driving Down Costs

Above the tree-lined streets of Pasadena, California, in the sleek, open-air offices of high-tech start-up incubator Idealab, a team of researchers is huddled around a strange-looking device that concentrates the light of the sun and generates on-site electricity. Bill Gross, Idealab's founder and the CEO of upstart concentrating-solar PV company Energy Innovations, beams with the nerdy excitement of a computer programmer who's just created a nifty chunk of code or a biologist who's uncovered a new genome. "The economic potential for solar is enormous," says Gross. "Within a decade, solar will reach price parity with other energy sources." His vision is to replicate Idealab's rooftop, where a dozen solar-concentrator demo units track the sun from dawn to dusk. He wants Energy Innovations units sprouting on commercial and industrial roofs around the world, providing low-cost, efficient, distributed electric power from the sun.

Gross, whose Idealab hatched such Internet winners and losers as Citysearch, eToys, Overture, and Tickets.com, is now in a race to develop his solar technology and bring it to market before other firms, such as Practical Instruments, SolFocus, and Solaria. He firmly believes that the future belongs to those who can help solve two of our world's most pressing issues, energy and water—global access to clean, reliable, and abundant sources of each. His solar technology company—which aims to use relatively inexpensive mirrors to reflect the light ofthe sun onto expensive high-efficiency solar cells—raised more than $40 million in 2005 and 2006, with hopes of putting its first commercial products onto rooftops in 2007.

Energy Innovations represents just one of the many technological developments taking place in the rapidly expanding solar industry. These developments include everything from incremental improvements in the most abundant form of solar electricity—silicon-based solar PV—to new nonsilicon forms of solar electric generation, including nanotechnology-based innovations and CIGS (copper, indium, gallium, selenium). The variety of emerging solar electric technologies and applications demonstrates the richness of opportunity in an industry expanding by more than 30% per year since the mid-1990s.

What does this mean for investors, entrepreneurs, and others who want a piece of the growing solar pie? The solar business, once the domain of back-to-the-earth zealots and government and corporate research labs, is now being embraced by nimble, visionary entrepreneurs with access to capital, skilled management, and business acumen. Also joining the race are established multinationals such as Applied Materials, GE, and Sharp—companies that are basing their future, at least in part, on corporate spoils in the solar industry.

Rapid Fire

Part of the growing interest in solar power has to do with the sector's astounding growth rate. In 2000, the total annual manufacturing output of all solar companies was about 300 MW. In 2005, solar industry manufacturing output rose almost fivefold to more than 1,500 MW of solar PV modules and surpassed 2,000 MW in 2006. That's enough electricity-generating capacity to serve two cities the size of Atlanta for an entire year.

The entry of multinationals and large, well-funded, publicly traded solar companies into the space provides opportunities for individual and institutional investors to put money into some of the more promising companies and developments. In 2005 and 2006, for example, solar companies such as SunPower and China's Suntech Power Holdings had successful initial public offerings on U.S. stock exchanges and global giants such as Applied Materials joined longtime corporate solar stalwarts such as BP and Sharp.

Although current solar power costs can be prohibitive in some regions, solar systems can make a great deal of sense in regions that have high-utility costs, offer solar subsidies, or are blessed with a preponderance of sunny days—offering opportunities to a new class of systems integrators and financiers. As we discuss below, some companies are packaging systems and financing in such a way that solar can cost less for the customer from first day of use—including builders of new homes who are integrating solar systems into mortgages and firms that have developed unique financing options.

The solar landscape is filling up with a range of new companies and business models, offering opportunities for qualified entrepreneurs, managers, and workers to join current efforts in solar manufacturing, financing, installation, systems integration, and elsewhere along the solar value chain.

Solar's challenges, however, are many. They include entrenched interests that support fossil fuels over clean energy, shortsighted rather than long-term policies and incentives that disrupt growth, nonuniformity among utility districts that makes consistent standards and protocols nearly impossible, and cost barriers that have kept solar from reaching cost parity with retail electric rates. But like any high-growth technology innovation story, solar is in a unique position to overcome many of these challenges and change the world in ways unimaginable.

Bringing Solar Down to Earth

Invented at Bell Labs in the 1950s and commercialized in the 1970s, solar PV has moved from a niche industry powering space satellites to a mainstream business with such well-known multinational players as BP, GE, Sharp, and Shell and pure-play efforts such as Evergreen Solar, First Solar, Q-Cells, SunPower, and Suntech Power. Since the mid-1990s, the industry has looked eerily similar to the consumer electronics revolution that preceded it—with annual growth rates in the 30% to 60% range.

Solar is becoming big business, representing more than $11 billion in global sales in 2005, more than $15 billion in 2006, and a projected $60 billion–plus in 2016, according to Clean Edge research. In 2005, venture capitalists poured more than $150 million into deals based in North America, such as Advent Solar, HelioVolt, Energy Innovations, Miasolé, and Nanosolar. Nearly $1 billion was raised via initial public offerings (IPOs) in Europe and the United States for SunPower, Suntech Power, and Q-Cells; those companies' IPOs represented three of the largest technology offerings of 2005.

Piper Jaffray clean-energy analyst Jesse Pichel highlights what the excitement is about. "Our investment partners like solar because it leverages advances made in the semiconductor space," he says. "Our investors understand semiconductors—and are therefore more comfortable with solar than many other emerging energy sectors."

The Clean Tech Revolution
The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity
. Copyright © by Ron Pernick. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

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