Rob Day recently released an interesting article on GreenTechMedia entitled “The Rise of Information-Based Cleantech.” His main point is that over the past decade most ‘Cleantech VCs’ poured tons of cash into commodity-oriented cleantech plays that really didn’t fit the traditional VC-model. (They were capital-, effort and time-intensive, and relied on notoriously fickle commodity pricing curves).
This is now changing, he says. IT and Web-based models are getting a lot of Cleantech VC attention. And for good reason! Information-based Cleantech can be much more capital efficient, and can capitalize on positive externalities (ie. virtuous cycles) more rapidly than analog plays.
Interestingly, Mr. Day delineates three basic models for the ‘new’ IT-based Cleantech:
1. Disintermediation – Existing markets for energy, water and materials are being disrupted by web-based purchasing platforms and other forms of disintermediation.
2. Data as a Service – Our energy system was once stupid, but is becoming more intelligent. There’s a lot of room for big data plays to aggregate and standardize reliable information about systems old and new alike.
3. Automation – Information plus automation can lead to significant resource and dollar savings. As automation becomes standardized, those who create the standards will be rewarded.
Simply put, the data matters. According to the US Energy Information Administration, homes and commercial buildings account for three quarters of the electricity consumed in the US. Yet, everything in our buildings that demands and supplies energy can be metered and monitored today.
Data significantly improves the overall quality and quantity of our informed decisions. It fuels innovation and collaboration, and ultimately accelerates the rate of innovation.
Mr. Day has identified what he calls a ‘big wave’ of such thinking in the cleantech venture sector. At Genability, we want to put a price on every piece of energy-related data. We believe that this will help to give granular and comprehensive context to make this data useful and relevant.