By Troy Tyler
The last year has seen a tipping point in the public’s awareness of climate change and our leaders action on the issue. From President Obama’s rejection of KeystoneXL, to the signing of the Paris COP21 accord, to the extension of wind and solar tax credits by the U.S. Congress, the political winds have shifted —blowing once again in the direction of clean energy and a serious effort to combat climate change.
Clean technology is no longer just a future possibility – it’s a great investment opportunity right now. The economic and commercial trends are clear. Solar and wind power-generation technologies are now cost-competitive with carbon-burning energy sources. Energy storage is blooming. In many markets, the cost of solar and wind power has achieved what is called “grid parity” – their costs are lower than the costs of grid power. According to GTM Research, solar has hit grid parity in 20 US states and will hit 42 states by 2020. And, as Naam has written, “cleantech is now disruptive to fossil fuels.”
Cleantech spending around the world rose to a new record in 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (please check out Bloomberg’s interactive charts describing new energy trends over the last 10 years). Despite low fossil-fuel prices and declining renewable subsidies in Europe, renewable spending overall rose to a record $329 billion, beating the previous high set in 2011, and almost quadrupling the amount invested just ten years ago.
Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/company/clean-energy-investment (slide 8, Public Fact Pack)
At the COP21 meeting in Paris last fall, a coalition of governments and billionaire investors, led by Bill Gates, and including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, announced Mission Innovation, with a goal to ramp clean energy R&D funding up to $20 billion a year, globally, from its current level of $10 billion.
But until now, smaller angel investors have had little ability to invest in clean-technology startups, as many startups set a minimum investment size above the dollar amount that smaller investors prefer to invest. Syndication allows multiple angels to bundle their respective investments together, giving them access to cleantech deals previously out of reach.
Naam’s initiative comes at the perfect time — just as the industry heads into its next stage of growth. With a host of startups focused on cost reduction and giving consumers control over their energy, now is the time for a revival in cleantech investing. He believes this startup market has ample headroom: “Globally, we’re only 1 percent of the way to deploying clean energy,” he says. “We need to increase our use of solar, wind, storage, and efficiency by two orders of magnitude to clean up our economies. That’s a huge opportunity and a win for investors, people, and the planet.”
Naam explains he will target specific clean-technology investments: “in energy storage, in startups that reduce the total system cost of solar or wind, and in software, finance, or Internet of Things startups that accelerate clean energy, energy storage, and energy efficiency.”
Naam’s cleantech startup syndicate can be found on AngelList. Please spread the word so that this opportunity reaches investors who want to address climate change at an investment amount they can manage.
Troy Tyler is founder and CEO of SMASHsolar, a 2012 Cleantech Open Semifinalist. SMASH is making solar a snap to install with the world’s first snap-together solar module. To learn more about SMASH, check out its profile on Angel.co or visit www.smashsolar.com.