WSJ Announces Top 10 Venture Backed Clean Tech Companies

During this years ECO:nomics Conference, The Wall Street Journal announced the Top 10 venture-backed clean-tech companies.  Eco:nomics is a conference that brings together the world’s top CEOs, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and industry experts to discuss the future of business and the environment. Clean-tech describes a vast space dealing with energy, technology, and even behavior change.

Most of the Top 10 list appear to be energy related companies, dealing with either energy creation, energy transmission, or technology for efficient energy consumption.  Interestingly enough, the top venture-backed clean-tech company focuses on behavior change rather than the energy space.

Here is the list:

  1. RecycleBank, rewards program for lower impact on the environment
  2. Suniva Inc., solar cells and solar modules
  3. eSolar Inc., solar power solutions for utilities
  4. MiaSole, thin-film solar
  5. OPOWER, Inc., energy efficiency and smart grid software
  6. GreatPoint Energy, Inc., produces clean, low cost natural gas from coal, petroleum coke, and biomass.
  7. SeaMicro, Inc., energy efficient servers
  8. Boston Power, Inc, next-generation lithium-ion battery technology
  9. Luxim Corp., develops a lighting solution “Light Emitting Plasma”
  10. Sapphire Energy, Inc., algae based renewable fuel, “Green Crude”

On a side note related to energy creation, it is interesting to note that the common term we use for the sustainable energy space is “clean tech” or “clean energy” as opposed to “renewable energy.”

Ideally, we want energy to be renewable, not just clean. There is only a finite amount of energy that can be created from oil, natural gas, or coal taken from the earths crust.  Granted, we can may be able to make it as clean is possible, which is a good thing.  But that does not make these forms of energy less scarce.

If we truly are to be more sustainable moving forward, it would be apt to develop “renewable energy” as opposed to just “clean energy.”  It is great to have firms focusing on “clean energy.”  That is far better than just blindly using “dirty energy.”  But the next giant leap will be sourcing energy that we can regrow or regenerate, so to speak, as opposed to blatantly consume.

The distinction between “clean energy” and “renewable energy,” let alone “clean tech” may be nuanced, but an important one to bring forward.

What if we made our own version of the WSJ Top 10 venture-backed clean-tech companies, with the Top 10 venture-backed renewable energy companies.  Which renewable energy companies would be on that list?

Jonathan Mariano is an MBA candidate with the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, CA. His interests include the convergence between lean & green and pursuing free-market based sustainable solutions.

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