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An Outlook on the Future of Cleantech

Originally Posted on Linkedin

This past week, Amazon announced a slew of cleantech initiatives: a 2 billion Climate Pledge Fund for sustainable technologies, an acquisition of autonomous driving startup Zoox for 1.2 billion, and the renaming of Seattle’s KeyArena to Climate Pledge Arena. This follows Jeff Bezos’ recent personal commitment of 10 billion in global climate change mitigation initiatives.

With a sudden rush of funding flooding the cleantech sector from tech giants like Amazon, Alphabet Inc., and Microsoft in the last year, it’s reasonable to expect more founders and VC’s like Breakthrough Energy Ventures becoming motivated to pursue and fund climate-focused tech initiatives.

Cleantech has a dark past. In the mid 2000s, funding in the US increased 137% in technologies like solar panels, smart grids, and various capital-intensive climate-focused tech. This came to a sudden halt with the 2008 financial crisis, the rise of fracking, and cheap foreign solar imports, causing deal value to decline 45%.

As the danger of climate change becomes more acute, a resurgence in the cleantech sector is occurring. Recent tech initiatives like Rubicon, Convoy Inc, and of course, Tesla, are trailblazing this new era of cleantech.

The question is: Will modern cleantech avoid the woes of the past?