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Funds flow to emerging clean tech

posted 31 Jan 2011, 10:17 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 31 Jan 2011, 10:19 ]
Clean tech companies are getting their fair share of early investment dollars despite high Wall Street interest in social websites like Facebook, Groupon and LinkedIn.
USA-CLEAN TECH INVESTING NEW - In California's Silicon Valley most talk centers around well-known names like Facebook and Zynga. But the fastest growing sector in venture capital investing is green technology.

Scientific Conservation has already raised nearly $25 million from venture capital investors.

The small San Francisco tech company is helping businesses from Boeing to Nike become more energy efficient.

Companies pay millions a year to keep the lights on in skyscrapers From New York to London to Beijing.

But what if those energy bills could be slashed?

Russ McMeekin is the CEO of Scientific Conservation.


"Instead of having a human coming - touring around this older facility, writing a report and sending it to the owner or to the regulator, in this case the utility PG&E, to let them know how efficient they are, or not efficient they are - we turn that into a hosted service and we do it in a completely automated manner."

Much like a car's operating system, SCI gathers data on how a building is using energy and sends it to a central computer for processing. SCI says its clients save between 20 percent and 30 percent a year on their energy bills.

In California alone, the market for renewable electricity currently stands at $10 billion, that's according to a recent report by Cleantech Group.

The market could expand to nearly $80 billion by 2020.

Ernst and Young calls energy efficiency a "sweet spot" for venture capital investing.

Gary Dillabough is a General Partner at the Westly Group. His VC fund focuses on making investments in the energy space.


"When you can invest in a solution that can have high margins and can be deployed with a relatively high degree of capital efficiency it became a very attractive opportunity for us."

Right now, SCI has about 11 million square feet under management and hopes to reach 100-million square feet by the end of 2011. Big ambitions for a company that says it sees a tsunami of opportunity to make the world a little more green.

Conway Gittens, Reuters