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2016 Energy Platform Brief
Oliver Wright

Today’s alternative energy investment sector is more nuanced, diversified, and cautious than yesterday’s. VC investors have lost some big bets the last few years, and have since pivoted toward less capital intensive companies. As VC’s pull back capital commitments, alternative sources have filled the void. High net worth, family office, sovereign wealth, and corporate venture capital have been pouring roughly $2 billion into energy per quarter, with 20% of that going to European and Israeli companies.

Today’s energy and cleantech investments constitute a broad investment category, ranging from resource efficiency, to sustainable agriculture, to advanced materials and water.  Energy efficiency is the new category leader. But slowing the growth of future energy demand via efficiency has nothing to do with creating more power; it merely (and quite minimally) reduces the challenge of providing that power. Solving the global challenge of energy resource and electric power supply means discovering, creating and commercializing new energy sources. Indeed, some of the smartest and richest people on the planet are funding teams of scientists and engineers pursuing novel and revolutionary solutions to energy resource constraints.  The boldest bets in energy today involve cracking the nuclear fusion power code.

  • Bill Gates is bankrolling TerraPower; Jeff Bezos has gotten behind General Fusion; and Paul Allen has invested in Tri-Alpha.
  • All of these companies seek to design and build commercially viable power reactors simpler, cheaper, and faster than multinational, government-funded behemoths like ITER.

Other interesting things are happening at the ‘intersects’ of IT, big data, and natural resources: from start-ups addressing environmental and efficiency challenges in conventional oil and gas to cleanweb investments applying IT and big data to resource efficiency.

  • Monsanto’s $1 billion purchase of The Climate Corporation affirmed the power and promise of data and technology applications to energy resource. Google Ventures, Khosla Ventures, and Index Ventures’ $110 million investment in the company paid off.
  • Other positive signs include IPOs for BioAmber, Marrone Bio Innovations and SilverSpring Networks, as well as Samsung’s €260 million acquisition of NovaLED, a German developer of high-efficiency organic light-emitting diodes.

PLATFORM DEAL TEAM

Oliver Wright Esq.

Rich Kottmeyer Esq.

Pratik Shaw MS, MBA

Dr. William G. - PhD Physics - Vanquish Merchant Bank - Energy Platform Expert - Blurred

Dr. William G. PhD Physics

Danny G. - Vanquish Merchant Bank - Energy Platform Expert_censored

Brigad. Gen. (Ret) Danny G

Yoni D. - Vanquish Energy Platform Expert_censored

Yoni D.

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  • FUSION ENERGY CODE ABOUT TO CRACK?

    Limitless renewable energy from nuclear fusion has been 30 years away for 30 years, but now experts say they’re finally closing in on “ignition” — a self-sustaining fusion burn reaction that is the key to unlocking the cascade of plasma energy that would replace fossil fuels as the source of energy to our electric grid.

  • NOT QUITE NET, BUT FUSION GAINS

    Researchers in the NIF at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced that they managed to use lasers to compress fuel made from two heavier forms of hydrogen enough to kick off a nuclear fusion reaction. And for the first time, the reaction managed to generate more energy than was absorbed by the fuel from the lasers – a scientific milestone. But they were quick to point out that because the fuel absorbed only a small amount of the energy from the lasers, there was still far more energy put into the entire process than came out.