24 November '09
4:39 PM UTC
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  Cleantech

China: Best Practice to Protect a Cleantech IP Portfolio

Earlier this afternoon, we spoke with two intellectual property lawyers at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe on the risk of IP piracy in China, something we’ve written a lot about recently (see here or here). The San Francisco-based law firm just issued a report urging for greater technology sharing between Chinese and foreign clean energy companies.

With China set to invest up to$234 billion in clean energy solutions over the next two years, a lot of foreign companies are eager to enter the market. Some companies, as Massachusetts’ Evergreen Solar , are also relocating manufacturing there in a bid to cut production costs. But an ongoing concern that is specific to China for a number of these companies is the issue of IP piracy.

Orrick’s Rodger Sadler, a partner, and associate Chi Cheung, both New York-based, shared with us some key best-practice steps companies can take to protect their IP capital. Read More »

24 November '09
1:04 PM UTC
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  Cleantech

… And Announces $600M Funding for Smart Grid and Energy Storage [Update -- 1:31 PM]

Update  | 1:31 PM: The DOE just emailed us the release on the $620 million smart grid funding announcement.

The funding will support 32 projects across the country.

Of the $620 million, $435 million will support fully integrated, regional smart grid demonstrations in 21 states, representing over 50 utilities and electricity organizations with a combined customer base of almost 100 million consumers. And $185 million will fund utility-scale energy storage projects.

On the funding Secretary Chu said:

This funding will be used to show how Smart Grid technologies can be applied to whole systems to promote energy savings for consumers, increase energy efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

So, to recap: Yesterday, the DOE disbursed $18 million to support 107 small cleantech firms. Today, the DOE released another $620 million in stimulus funding for next-generation smart grid and energy storage projects – See here for a list of the selected projects.

Read More »

24 November '09
3:30 AM UTC
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  Cleantech
  Funding

Clean Energy: An $850B Opportunity

Clean energy revenues could reach $850 billion by 2030, according to an estimate recently compiled by Barclays Capital.

Barclays expects clean energy revenues to grow to $181 billion in 2010 from $128 billion last year, $322 billion by 2015 and $844 billion by 2030 — see chart below.

In terms capacity wind power will account for 9.8 percent of the world’s electricity output in 2030 from 1.6 percent in 2008, the Barclays report estimates. Solar power, which currently accounts for less than one percent of global generation capacity, is expected to generate 11.6 percent of the world’s electricity by 2030. Geothermal power could generate 9.1 percent of global electricity from 0.3 percent now.

Interestingly, the growth of the clean energy market is expected to cut the cost of solar generation from $7/watt, currently to $1.30/watt by 2030. However, the cost of wind and geothermal generation will not bulge, remaining at $2.0/watt over the next two decades. See the Barclays report .

Picture 2

20 November '09
3:17 PM UTC
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  Cleantech

China’s $1 Trillion Renewable Energy Market Worth the IP Risk, Report Says

Of concern for clean energy developers looking to enter the massive Chinese renewable energy market is the risk that local competitors pirate their proprietary intelligence.

Earlier this month, asked by a research analyst how it intended to protect its IP in China, First Solar Chairman Mike Ahearn, said IP protection was a concern but he failed to give specifics on how the company would ensure its proprietary technology would not be copied. He said: “somewhere during the course of this work we’re going to be looking at manufacturing sites [in China] and we will address the IP issue.”

In September First Solar signed an MOU with the Chinese government to develop a 2-gigawatt PV power plant in the country’s Inner Mongolia region.

With China spending an estimated $12.6 million every hour on green energy technology — or 40 percent of its $586 billion stimulus package — foreign clean energy companies like First Solar are more than ever hungry for a slice of the Chinese clean energy pie, despite the IP risk. Read More »

20 November '09
10:40 AM UTC
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  Cleantech

Is the Smart Grid a Good Investment? Vinod Khosla Has His Doubts

Speaking yesterday at VentureBeat’s , pioneer cleantech investor Vinod Khosla said he didn’t believe smart grid technologies were a good investment. He concedes that some of the technology will foster big returns but they will be limited to developers of energy savings devices. Otherwise, Khosla says, he sees a “lot of fluff, a lot of ambiguity, not a lot of reality… in today’s smart grid discussions.”

Khosla’s investment fund, Khosla Ventures has so far not invested in any smart grid projects, . The fund mostly focuses on backing cutting edge biofuel startups. It recently closed on two new funds with $1 billion in investment capital, which will support current portfolio companies and invest in new opportunities.

There have been a few successful smart grid companies, including Silver Spring Networks, backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, of which Khosla is a team member. Silver Spring is now involved in some of the leading — and government funded — smart grid test projects going on in Chicago and Miami.

On Silver Spring, Khosla says:

Just because one smart grid company is successful doesn’t create a wave. They’ve been working at it for a long time. Hiding behind that wave is the wrong thing to do. Trying to do what they’ve done slightly better is not the right way to build a company.

Read More »