Andrew Friendly, Principal

A Stimulus for Cleantech

The Obama Administration’s focus on clean energy development and climate change mitigation efforts combined with the recently enacted stimulus package will be a boon to the cleantech sector over the next couple of years.  ATV and our portfolio companies are looking closely at how to benefit from the money coming from Washington. 

On top of the billions of dollars worth of tax credits and bonds for renewable energy generation assets that are brought on-line, the Department of Energy will be charged with managing tens of billions of dollars in direct grants for clean energy R&D, demonstration projects, scaling of manufacturing and efficiency programs.  The scale of funding for the sector is overwhelming and the DOE will be hard pressed to deploy the funds effectively, but many of ATV’s cleantech portfolio companies are well-positioned for funding. 

Specifically, the Department of Energy’s $150 million Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program is well-suited for early-stage companies like those in the ATV portfolio. The program aims to fund high risk R&D for technologies that could be considered “transformational”.  Almost every company in ATV’s cleantech portfolio has submitted at least one application for this program and we expect that decisions about awards will be made in the early fall.  Awards are likely to be in the $2-$5 million range but they could be as high as $10 million.

After a multi-year delay, the Department of Energy finally started to make awards as part of their Loan Guarantee Program primarily for helping clean energy companies to scale manufacturing.  Great Point Energy, Coskata and Calisolar are considering government funding opportunities for their commercial plants.  AltaRock has been working closely with the Geothermal team at DOE on R&D project funding and advanced technical research.  And, Wakonda and Solar Junction are evaluating new solar research grant funds.   

ATV has been working with the New England Clean Energy Council, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), the National Venture Capital Association and directly with the White House and Department of Energy leadership to advocate for this funding and to educate the decision makers about the technologies that our portfolio companies are developing.

Government dollars alone, as significant as they will be for the cleantech sector, will not replace private capital, but will serve as an important source of funding during this difficult fund raising period.  ATV is advocating on behalf of its portfolio companies to ensure they secure as much of this funding as possible to enable them to continue the important, breakthrough work they are doing.