A Focus on Energy Efficiency Will Help Keep The U.S. Competitive, and Other Cleantech Industry Predictions for 2011

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algae biofuel production.

  • The first clinical trial of an algae-based therapeutic.
  • The introduction of several new algae-based nutraceuticals.

—Seattle-based Cascadia Capital chairman and CEO Michael Butler has some big things to say about natural gas and renewables:

  • Congress will implement incentives for new production of natural gas, renewables, and nuclear energy, but won’t enforce penalties for those who don’t cut down on carbon emissions.
  • Oil prices will hit $100 a barrel, and oil companies will expand by purchasing natural gas companies and assets.
  • Technology for converting waste to energy will hit the market in 2011 and will replace incinerators and landfills as the method for handling municipal waste.
  • Big (and traditional) energy firms like BP, Chevron, and Shell will acquire companies in the renewable energy space.
  • “We expect to see investor money that has traditionally focused on renewable to allocate a portion of that money to natural gas,” Butler says. “We are aware of a couple renewable investors raising natural gas only funds.” Investors are attracted to the fact that some infrastructure is in place, but plenty more is needed for the natural gas field to grow, he says.

—Several other experts were optimistic about the promise of natural gas.

  • Bob Metcalfe, general partner at Polaris Venture Partners and University of Texas Professor of Innovation, predicted that progress in the natural gas space would outpace that of solar.
  • MIT Entrepreneurship Center manager director Bill Aulet pointed us to a discovery in natural gas: shale gas. “The discovery of $4 trillion of shale gas that is much cleaner than coal and located strategically in the Northeast close to the demand, and also in areas of highest political leverage (i.e., in the swing states), could fundamentally change the energy picture here in the U.S,” he wrote. “This dramatic change in the status quo will create great innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities-a modern day Energy Gold Rush but on a much shorter time scale than solar and with more substantial immediate results. It will not be the perfect ultimate solution, but it could be a huge step in the right direction.”

—Rachel Sheinbein, principal at San Francisco-based CMEA Capital, says that … Next Page »

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