September Cleantech Roundup: Batteries are Officially Back in Style
Clean Energy Trust’s cleantech roundup recaps interesting cleantech news highlights, from policy changes to technology updates and investment news.
On the CET blog, Erik discussed his essential tool for managing cash at startups. Link to CET blog post on the 13-week cash tracker
I wrote about Social Capital’s recent decision to stop being a venture capital shop, and what we should take away from the event. Link to CET blog post on the lessons to learn from Social Capital
Energize Ventures (formerly Invenergy Future Fund) announced the close of their first fund last week — a $150 million fund focused on digital solutions for energy affordability, reliability, and security. Not only is this one of the larger energy-focused ventures funds, but we’re excited that it’s happening here in Chicago, led by former Clean Energy Trust CEO Amy Francetic! Link
Quartz highlighted Solid Power’s recent funding round, which is one of a number of entrants in the race to make solid-state batteries. This type of battery is expected to have twice the energy density of today’s lithium-ion batteries, that is also potentially safer and cheaper (cheaper and denser is the money melon). The post also points out that there’s been more investment in battery startups through the first half of 2018 ($1.6 billion) than in 2016 and 2017 combined. As Paul put it, “Batteries are officially back in style.” Also, Ben is also quick to remind us that while there have been significant investments in battery companies here in the US (such as Solid Power), much of the recent growth in battery investments in this space has been in the form of massive $500 million + investments in China, so this is both a story about the race to develop and scale up better batteries, as well as one of global competition (that, and the fact that some autonomous vehicle technology companies get mislabeled as battery companies, so the data can be a little noisy). Link
Eric Feng of Kleiner Perkins explore what the growth of seed investors means for venture capital more generally: the needles are in larger haystacks, and there is a lot of competition to find them, but when they’re located, they returns are even larger than they used to be. One other point Eric touches on briefly: there are a lot of seed investors because it is cool to be a seed investor. Link
Ben flagged this Greentech Media article on Energy Impact Partners’ $150 million credit fund, which will be utilized to invest in non-venture companies. Energy Impact Partners is principally a venture fund whose LPs are large energy and utility companies, so this fund enables them to take stakes in and learn from companies who are doing interesting work at the grid edge but for which a 10x return may be unrealistic. The fact that EIP was able to get backing for the facility from the U.S Small Business Administration via the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program. Historically, the SBIC has been very resistant to funding any kind of company that is not a fully mature business (ie, one with technology risk). Link
Quartz shares more information on the companies in Breakthrough Energy Ventures portfolio. Link
Power companies love drones — this BNEF report explains why this space is booming. Link
The SEC sued Elon Musk. He maintained his innocence, then settled two days later. The settlement will require him to set down from the chairmanship of Tesla (he’ll remain CEO), which is the right move, and indeed the move that Blackrock was trying to push that we discussed last month. Twoops. Link
I updated my “For further reading” recommendations below to include a couple of additional sources: Axios’ Pro Rata and Matt Levine of Bloomberg’s Money Stuff. Pro Rata is your standard daily sector news updates for VC/PE; Matt’s column is a bit of a lot of different things related to finance; I’m disappointed to just be discovering it now.
For Further Reading:
These publications and newsletters are what I typically pay attention to and are great sources for cleantech and investing news.
- GreenTech Media — Good source for news and analysis on all kinds of clean energy.
- Axios’ Generate — Daily energy news roundup, with coverage that includes (but is not limited to) federal goings-on
- The Energy Gang Podcast — weekly cleantech news digest podcast produced by Greentech Media
Investing and Technology:
- Axios’ Pro Rata — Weekday morning newsletter by Dan Primack
- Money Stuff — Weekday opinion piece from Matt Levine at Bloomberg
- Benedict’s Newsletter — Ben Evans’ weekly summary of interesting tech and investing news, along with his own interesting takes
- A VC — Blog by Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures — lots of interesting commentary on venture investing in general, and blockchain in particular