Cleantech fourth-quarter 2012 analysis

1Executive Summary

The fourth quarter in cleantech saw attention paid to two prominent and publicly traded companies: EV maker Tesla and newly minted public listing SolarCity. It remains a transitional period for the sector as investment declines and investors look for value investments and give money to those companies able to scale with little additional capital.

Key highlights from the quarter include:

  • Tesla continued its march toward delivering its luxury Model S on time and inched toward being cash-flow-positive. It received a great deal of attention as it raised additional capital, and investors looked for signs that it could follow through on its ability to produce the Model S on time and at scale.
  • Rooftop solar installer SolarCity became the first truly successful cleantech IPO of the year, seeing a good bounce in its share price post-IPO. That’s good news for cleantech in general, and solar installation, not manufacturing, remains the side of the solar equation you want to be on.
  • In the low-power-server game, the much-rumored move from AMD to license an ARM core to design an ARM processor took place. It’s still a nascent market, but it’s heating up as multiple companies vie for the microserver and data center market, all promising lower power costs.
  • Finally, the production tax credit (PTC) for wind power survived another year as last-minute lobbying and support from Republicans actually proved critical in getting the subsidy slipped into the eleventh-hour fiscal deal. Overall subsidies of any sort are helpful for cleantech, particularly as the 2012 investment figures were gloomy amid a general shift toward financing later-stage startups and those companies that don’t need much capital to scale.
Relevant Analyst
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Adam Lesser

Cleantech Curator Gigaom Research

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