Friday, 26 June 2009

Ed Miliband Talks Climate Change

This morning Ed Miliband took part in a web chat about climate change in advance of the launch of the “Road to Copenhagen” initiative today, which begins the run up to the climate negotiations in December.

Mr Miliband sings from the policy hymn sheet while managing to keep the chat human. He tells us he has a Prius and admits that he hasn’t quite finished reading David MacKay’s book ‘Sustainable Energy - without the hot air’. He talked about the UK being the only country to have a specific commitment on aviation: “that aviation growth will be constrained by a commitment to get aviation emissions back to current levels by 2050”, and acknowledge that we are in need of a 2050 Energy Roadmap: “That's part of what our summer white paper will be doing so watch this space. And we must make the transition from fossil fuels.” He also advised readers about the £100bn financing plan announced by Gordon Brown today (go to the DECC website for more info), and referred people to the manifesto for Global Climate Change.

Mr Miliband was even willing to answer an off-topic enquiry about his feeling regarding the passing of Michael Jackson.

You can see everything that was discussed in the web chat, from carbon capture and storage, carbon offsetting nuclear power and energy efficiency here on the Guardian website.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Green and Renewable Energy Events – July 2009

Ever wish you could just go to one place and find out what’s happening across the whole sector? We aim to bring you a comprehensive list of all the events happening across the Renewable Energy and Cleantech sector.

If we’re missing a conference, please drop us an email and we’ll update our list – its our way of helping you connect with the right people.

17th European Biomass Conference & Exhibition
29th June – 3rd July 2009
Hamburg, Germany

International Wave Energy Summit
30th June & 1st July 2009

Green Power Conferences - Strategies and Challenges in Scaling up Biogas Production
1st & 2nd July 2009

British Hydropower Association: Micro-Hydro Seminar
3rd July 2009
Powys, Wales

3rd, 6th, 8th and 14th July 2009
Leeds, Preston, London and Bristol

The Clean Capital Network - Cleantech London
6th July 2009

Green Card Conference - Risks & Opportunities presented by the Carbon Reduction Commitment - Free
9th July 2009
Green Park, Reading

Green Drinks - London - Free
14th July 2009
London (Green Drinks events happen globally - more locations can be found on the website)

AWBriefing - Fully Charged? Shaping the Future of Electric Vehicles
16th July 2009
Westminster, London

BWEA Cymru 09 - BWEA Cymru's third annual event dedicated to wind, wave & tidal in Wales
16th July 2009

A similar list is now published for August. Any feedback would be welcome.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Fundraising in Cleantech and Renewable Energy

Here are some sound bites from the trench this week on fundraising challenges faced by “Smallco” (the small company working in renewable energy and cleantech). This is the often forgotten £2m and under brigade – of which there are a fair few out there – comprised of both product and services companies.

Smallco in Entrepreneurland is being hindered by the lack of investor appetite for the smaller deal. As a result they are falling between the crack of “too small for the big investors” and “too big & long term to tie up angel money”.

Everyone wants to invest in green

Smallco has to kiss a lot of frogs at the moment. For the smaller businesses preparing for marathon pitching rounds, this means time away from the day job which can be painful when you still need to grow the business.

With relatively few specialists and lots of new entrants rarely are investors truly knowledgeable about the technologies and complexities of businesses operating in this space. So the fund raising process takes even more time as they grapple with the due diligence, alien concepts, opportunities, issues and longer technology development lead times, research etc.

Most people recognise that there is a lack of mature companies around and the “big deals” are rare. The smaller deal dynamics are inherently resource hungry with an owner manager driven situation, and are also a long way from maturity.

Greed and speed factor is high

It is simply not a natural fit with some of these businesses who need nurturing and mentoring as well as cash. This is not the same cycle as – there is a lot more upfront investment and a slower burn on return. That doesn’t stop the comparisons being made on the investment journey.

So, for angel style investors who wish to spread risk and become involved in a range of cleantech and renewable deals (because, let’s face it, there is risk involved), I can’t help but think there is opportunity here. A venture fund, formed by a collective pool of small-deal VCs, could work together and provide their expertise and contacts along the way. This would strengthen the likelihood of success and in return would create a natural nursery pool to spin into bigger things … plus there would be a lot of fun along the way.

If this sounds like you, call me to discuss, I’ve a number of clients who fall into this category and could be interested in connecting with you.

By Debby Lloyd.
Managing Director, EcoSearch

Image by Perrimoon

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Global Wind Day?

I am a supporter of Wind Energy. I believe that our generation is obliged to seriously increase our generation of clean (or cleaner) energy, whether that be wind, wave, solar, biomass or nuclear. My career is currently dedicated to building teams, growing businesses and ultimately contributing to the growth of the wind energy sector. I spend day in and day out talking to people who already work in companies in the Wind energy supply chain, or who want to work with said companies.

However, I have to admit that Global Wind Day, might have passed me by this year, if it wasn’t for one of my colleagues shouting at me that I should be doing something about it. “It’s your thing”, she said…

So what is the point in Global Wind Day? Essentially I understand that the concept is to raise awareness of wind energy… But what then? Is it aimed at making young people want to work in Wind energy? Is aimed at making local communities want to support the construction of wind turbines in their region (let’s hope some of the local councils are reading this…) or is it aimed at making investors want to invest in the sector?

The success of any of the above relies on extending the message of Global Wind Day beyond the immediate circle that already has a vested interest in the Renewable energy sector. So how have they marketed Global Wind energy day? How have the organisers (EWEA and GWEC with the support of the national Wind Energy associations like BWEA), actually gone about reaching their target markets? How did you read about Global Wind Day (or #GWind09 as it has become on Twitter, which is where, incidentally, I have seen the most activity around Global Wind Day)?

Apparently “thousands of public events will be organised simultaneously” on Monday 15th June 09. But searching via the Global Wind Day website only brought me details of 3 events in the UK. Just 3?! Surely that can’t be the case. (I have to add an NB that two of those events are organised by RES - well done RES). So I turn to BWEA to see what they are doing about this Global Wind Day thing… and there’s nothing on their website. So where is it being publicised? I can only imagine (hope) that things are more proactive on the other side of the pond. The American Wind Energy Associations, does at least lead on their home page with the story “Show Your Support for Wind Energy on Global Wind Day, June 15”…

To be fair, Vestas mentioned the day under “campaigns” on their website. ABB released a press release for a bit of publicity (good on them). But Vestas, ABB and RES are in the minority here, and I don’t see the UK broadsheets or tabloids picking up on this – should they be?

If I was Josephine Bloggs working in an un-related sector, and going out my usual routine – home, car, office, car, gym, car home – only listening to Radio 1 or Radio 4 and scanning The Times at lunchtime, would I have known about Global Wind Day?

The idea of having a “Wind Energy Day” is a great idea for a PR and awareness campaign, but if you’re going to do it, isn’t it worth doing it well? (And I would love to practice what I preach and be more involved next year – if someone from GWEC or EWEA is reading this, give me a shout.)

Let me know what I missed, and how you recognised Global Wind Day yesterday.

By Clare Buxton
Sector Lead for Wind Energy, EcoSearch

Get in touch:
Twitter: @CEBUX
Or via LinkedIn

Monday, 8 June 2009

Smart Metering – A Trojan Horse For The Utilities?

This may be a little controversial but my sound-boarding conversations in the sector of late have led me to ask questions and draw some interesting conclusions. Where is the product development going – and indeed who is in the driving seat – and really … what are the measurables of the 10-year metering roll out plan?

Are the meter supply companies ready to meet the rapidly evolving demands of today’s wireless savvy and iPod-style green consumer – will they even try or are they focused on serving only the demands of their masters in the Utilities?

Are the meters they will be supplying truly going to serve the Government purposes to educate and influence energy reduction? Are they merely being used to serve the Utilities as platforms for yet more aggressive cross-sell and up-sell opportunities – and contribute to even more consumerism that will actually negate all that energy reduction activity in the first place?

Are the Metering and Utility companies falling into the trap of “one size fits all” in terms of product development? Will Mr & Mrs Blogs in Harpenden really use their smart meter in the same way as Single Mum Jane in Brixton with 5 children under the age of 7?

Will the Utilities – in the effort to control the supply chain seek ever complex ways of controlling the data from the Smart Meters …?

Picture the future – your own smart meter – (I’d like a choice of model and functions thank you!). Something that will intelligently SMS you when the kids have left the heating on for more than 4 hours. A meter that talks to my freezer and switches it to low peak electricity. Something that automatically gets the washing machine going at 2am rather than when I go to bed and my smart meter needs to tell me how much my solar thermal panel has saved me that day and how much renewable energy I’ve generated … is that too much to ask do you think?

Well a cursory glance at some of the products on the market recently has led me ponder on how this sector needs to develop and cope with what seems like opposing and conflicting needs of the various stakeholders!

… ah I forgot, I’m having a flashback, it’s local loop unbundling all over again, only this time the local loop unbundling goes right back to the consumer – control of their own power generation!

By Debby Lloyd
Managing Director, EcoSearch