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Clean Tech Recession: Winners And Losers

Green energy is still a lightning-fast growth area in venture capital—VC investment in green energy technologies in 2008 exceeded $7.7 billion in more than 350 deals, more than double last year’s dollar totals, according to But the recession, and the accompanying plunge in the price of oil, are motivating a different type of thinking in clean tech. As a result, says the New York Times, "big, expensive projects like building factories to manufacture solar panels or biofuels are falling out of favor."

Why emulate the old, capital-intensive ways of creating energy, anyway? It's time to move from the mainframe model of big power plants to the equivalent of networked PCs and wireless mobile devices.

solar mirrors

Clean Tech 2.0 is going to be smaller, more distributed, and more personalized than the previous solutions. It's going to take the biggest possible advantage of "negawatts," or extra capacity freed up by maximum efficiency.  Information technology will allow us to optimize our use of energy and resources so nothing goes to waste. Financing will be shaped to government incentives. So, who are the winners in the negawatt revolution, and who are the losers?



In the best possible scenario, we're living through a transition from scattershot privately funded efforts to bold, long-term, strategic public commitments with the heft required to get the job done.

Images of 1966 solar mirror construction courtesy of NASA/GRC.