As we look toward the next year, the cleantech sector faces many challenges, which we examine in detail in this 2012 outlook. Renewable energy generators encounter an increasingly difficult subsidy environment, and key cleantech innovations like electric vehicles face an uphill climb in terms of connecting with a larger market. The effort to build cleaner data centers continues. Meanwhile, low-power chips will get a shot at creating further energy savings at the server level.
There are a couple of potential bright spots on the horizon, with Nest, a smart thermostat that could innovate home energy management, and a potentially successful Silver Spring Networks IPO that could offer a shot in the arm for the smart grid. Finally, the investment atmosphere is shifting as VC firms raise money to invest in foreign markets and to help mid-stage companies scale, leaving early-stage startups scavenging for cash.
Companies mentioned in this research note include ARM, Aston Martin, BMW, Calxeda, Chevrolet, Evergreen, Facebook, Fisker Automotive, Getaround, Google, Intel, Nest, Nissan, RelayRides, Silver Spring Networks, Silverlake Kraftwerk, Solyndra, Spectrawatt, Tesla and Zipcar.