Macroeconomic trends such as population growth, climate change and resource dependence are driving investment in the energy storage and energy efficiency markets, according to research by cleantech research firm Kachan & Co. and nonprofits As You Sow and the Responsible Endowments Coalition.
Energy storage is a crucial element in clean energy development due to the intermittent nature of popular clean energy sources such as solar and wind, according to Cleantech Redefined: Why the Next Wave of Cleantech Infrastructure, Technology and Services Will Thrive in the 21st Century.
As such, money and time are spent on power storage, and specifically on wind and solar power sources that are available when needed, rather than when the weather dictates them to be. And investments are growing There were 13 venture capital-backed deals in the second quarter of 2013, representing a 64 percent increase over quarter one.
As well as distributed power generation, next-generation batteries for vehicles are a potential investment area, the report says. Other possible investment areas include hydrogen, which is currently in use in municipal bus systems in Europe, Canada and China. As the only exhaust is distilled water, it meets the most stringent air quality standards. In addition, hydrogen can be produced easily and inexpensively anywhere there is water and electricity. It has potential for grid-scale storage if the cost of fuel cells can be reduced, the report says.
Energy efficiency related investments can reduce energy use and waste by 30 percent to 50 percent by 2030-2050, and are very popular since short term savings are easily identifiable, necessary technologies already exist and investment return is good, the report says.
Such investments are the “low hanging fruit” of the cleantech investment universe, the report says.