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SmartGrid Transitions chronicles both the technological and professional transitions that will result from re-energizing the world.

Technology transitions are fascinating to observe as well as participate in. This site aggregates a number of sources relevant to SmartGrid technology. Suggestions and comments are always welcome.

Growing a massive new industry will involve significant professional transitions as well. An influx of newcomers such as myself will be needed to start new companies and do new jobs. We are all trying to learn this new space: New acronyms, new business models, new assumptions. Let's do it together!

TCN CleanTech Capital Program - Premium Energy?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

(2) Comments

I attended the TCN CleanTech Capital Program on Tuesday, May 5th. Several brief observations: 
  1. There are amazing resources for entrepreneurs. TCN has several relevant events in addition to this one. One of the panelists, Dr. Linda Plano, is a member of the Mass Technology Transfer Center. She sponsors a CleanTech specific conference, among other relevant activities.  
  2. You want to be on the demand side of the business unless you can figure out how to get a multibillion dollar credit line. All the panelists agreed that 'demand side' refers to energy conservation, demand response, and energy monitoring - both low capital AND lightly regulated. The only play on the supply side is as a small supplier. Second Wind was highlighted as a company with a relatively low capital, short sales cycle product and thus had a chance as a startup amongst the behemoths. 
  3. The most  interesting exchange of the evening occured between a panelist and a telecom alumni interested in transitioning to CleanTech. The topic was the expected lifetime of capital equipment in the energy space.  The conventional wisdom is to expect a 40 year lifecycle. The telecom alumni pointed out that this was the expectation in telecom as well, back in the scratchy voice over copper days; the situation changed drastically; the same can be true in CleanTech. The panelist countered that telecom upgrades were driven by a vast array of new high-value services: voicemail, sms, mobile, etc, but that watts were watts.

    So, today's question to ponder: truth or lack of vision? Is there some value added in energy that will drive the kind of short product cycles that make for a booming industry, or are we talking a one-time changeover from fossil fuel to renewables, and then we're done?

2 Responses to "TCN CleanTech Capital Program - Premium Energy?"

Ed Loessi said :
May 10, 2009 at 9:54 PM
Hey Craig,

I like that "question to ponder" I need a white board and a lot of coffee!
May 10, 2009 at 10:20 PM
The telecom analogy is apt! Value added services notwithstanding, telecom carriers do more with "data moving through pipes" and "a minute is a minute is a minute" than adding value to those minutes. Overall cost of a minute has also dropped spectacularly in 20 years, amid all upgrades and deregulation.

A lot of folks from old regulated telecom have moved over to the energy utilities. Incremental value/profitable services will likely be created (and monetized) with smarter generation/grid technologies. However, the generation/transmission companies themselves are likely to end up with eroding margins overall. In the conservative world of energy utilities, electrons are unlikely to move terribly far from being electrons.

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