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Venture Capital Moving to Energy Efficiency from Clean Fuel

Venture capital is following the money -- the ARRA money into energy efficiency investments such as meters and homeowner financing companies for shorter timeframe ROI.

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"Venture capital is starting to move away from its infatuation with alternative energy and returning to one of its traditional strengths: applying information technology to improve the efficiency of energy consumption," reports the New York Times.

Many investors are finding that developing new forms of energy can bog down hundreds of millions of dollars over many years before showing any return. Energy efficiency technologies that reduce demand for energy can have a much faster time to market and return on investment.

About half of the dollars invested in clean technology last year went to alternative energy companies. In the first quarter of 2009, though, only one-third of venture dollars invested in clean tech went to these companies, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

Sequoia Capital Discovers Capital-efficient Clean Tech Companies

Sequoia Capital, which made its name investing in Google and Yahoo, avoided green technology because the start-ups did not fit the capital-efficient model Sequoia was looking for, said Michael L. Goguen, a partner at Sequoia.

Sequoia discovered thousands of capital-efficient clean tech companies that weren’t the companies people were talking about.

Sequoia funded SynapSense, which makes sensors for data center energy efficiency.

Foundation Capital, Star of Energy Efficiency Venture Capital

Foundation Capital,found nine companies that did not need high levels of capital and are now investing about a quarter of their fund in clean tech companies, including Silver Spring, which equips electric meters with networking cards so utilities can see power failures before customers call. They moved the company from Milwaukee to Redwood City, Ca.

Foundation Capital also invested in SunRun, which sells solar power to homeowners for a monthly fee.

Foundation Capital’s star investment is EnerNOC, which monitors energy in office buildings, grocery stores and hospitals and alerts operators to move power to places that need it most from those that need it least. EnerNOC went public in May 2007, five years after its first round of venture capital. Its revenue was $106 million last year, and that is expected to grow 55% in 2009, said Timothy G. Healy, its chief executive.

Read more at the reference article: New York Times

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