Cleantech Analysis and Consulting Firm Kachan & Co. Predicts Strong 2011 for Clean Technology Globally

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Investment will remain vibrant, and industries to watch will include efficiency, biofuels, nuclear, recycling and natural gas, firm predicts

2011 cleantech industry predictions from cleantech analysis and consulting firm Kachan & Co.

"In 2011, venture investment in cleantech will return to what it does best: seeking out emerging early stage technologies and teams that promise good multiples, and will be less influenced by governments putting large amounts of capital to work."

The cleantech sector will continue to attract high levels of investment and foster innovation in new, unexpected areas in 2011, according to cleantech analysis and consulting company Kachan & Co.

The company, with offices in San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver, has published a set of predictions for the cleantech sector in 2011.

In brief, the predictions include:    

Sustained worldwide VC investment in cleantech in 2011 - The industry is not on the downside of a bubble, Kachan believes, citing near record venture investment worldwide in 2010, massive funds still being raised by cleantech investors and an even more acute realization of the drivers of cleantech: resource scarcity and the need for greater efficiencies, energy independence and climate change.

“We predict these drivers—particularly the real or perceived scarcity around oil, rare earth elements and other commodities—will be felt even more acutely in 2011, especially as the Chinese middle class expands, further cementing the demand for and the market validity of clean technologies,” said Dallas Kachan, Managing Partner of Kachan & Co.

Venture capital will continue to cede importance to corporate and non-institutional capital - Look for large companies to invest billions in cleantech in 2011, according to Kachan. In recent weeks, GDF Suez created a fund to invest primarily in waste management, while GE invested $200 million in a handful of cleantech companies. In 2011, corporations will continue to form or expand corporate venturing arms, driven not just by returns, but by associated corporate social responsibility (CSR) benefits, the firm predicts.

A return to early stage venture investments - Kachan forecasts a return to early stage venture capital investing in cleantech in 2011. Already, in the last few months of 2010, data shows an increase in early stage deals with investors piggybacking less on U.S. government grants and loan guarantees, which had skewed investment into more mature cleantech companies.

“In 2011, venture investment in cleantech will return to what it does best: seeking out emerging early stage technologies and teams that promise good multiples, and will be less influenced by governments putting large amounts of capital to work themselves,” said Kachan. “Funds are still being raised. And those funds will need to be invested.”

Energy efficiency emerges as the clear rock star of cleantech - Efficiency, including smart grid—where Kachan expects continued massive investment and corporate activity—really only got serious traction in 2010. GE made huge announcements, investments and acquisitions in the third quarter of 2010. Just over a month ago, Russia unveiled massive energy efficiency plans.

“In 2011, look for efficiency to become the clear dominant investment theme as investors continue to seek less capital intensive efficiency plays,” said Kachan, who also expects a winnowing of efficiency companies in 2011, “partly because of concerns about differentiation, and partly because of the long sales cycles of utilities that are only starting to become understood by startups in the space.”

Biofuel investment could reach former highs - After several years of relatively inexpensive oil, Kachan predicts an upswing in biofuels investment in 2011, specifically, in drop-in biofuels. Cellulosic ethanol, which disappeared from headlines in 2010, may even disappear from investors' portfolios in 2011, the firm predicts, citing expectation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lowering its cellulosic ethanol volume requirements.

Nuclear surprises, but not in U.S. - Expect to hear about more nuclear innovation in 2011, according to Kachan, as the industry begins cautiously testing new science after decades of relative inactivity, citing thorium fuel initiatives, waste disposal and new micro-reactor designs. However, R&D, trials and ultimate adoption are expected to be in Asia, Europe and Canada. The firm expects nuclear development will remain stalled in the U.S. in 2011.

Recycling and mining will attract more investment - Rising commodity prices have been making the economics of recycling and recovery of trace materials more commercially viable. Silver almost tripled in price in 2010. Gold doubled. Companies that recover and reprocess materials, such as scrap metal, used lithium batteries or mining tailings, will be companies to watch in 2011, the company predicts.

Natural gas emerges to threaten solar and wind for utility renewable power generation - Renewable natural gas from inexpensive feedstock, indistinguishable from petro-based natural gas, could capture the cleantech industry’s imagination in 2011, according to Kachan. Such gas, transported in existing pipelines, could be sold at a premium to industrial customers like power utilities anxious for a cheaper renewable source than solar and wind. If burned in existing natural gas plants, such power could represent baseload renewable energy, unlike solar and wind, the firm notes.

“Look for scientific innovation in renewable natural gas in 2011, increased political support for natural gas in general as a transitional ‘cleaner’ fuel, a folding-in of natural gas into renewable energy standards and cleantech industry buzz over it being an important new wagon to hitch to.”

China becomes the most important market for cleantech: companies not selling in China won't matter - “In 2011, the leadership of cleantech vendors and service providers will be determined by the extent of their traction in China,” said Kachan. “It's the largest and the fastest growing market for clean technologies, and to ignore it out of concern about intellectual property or other costs of doing business will be to watch most of one's addressable worldwide market disappear to competitors.”

Read the firm's predictions for cleantech / greentech in 2011 in their entirety.

About Kachan & Co.
Kachan & Co. is a cleantech research and advisory firm with offices in San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver. Its staff have been covering, publishing about and helping propel clean technology since 2006. Details at

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact:
Dallas Kachan
Managing Partner
Kachan & Co.
+1 415-390-2080 x.5

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Dallas Kachan
Kachan & Co.
+1 415-390-2080 ext. 5
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