Sep 172011

September 17, 2011   source: AOL Energy

top 5 aol energyAlthough venture capitalists have taken a battering in the renewables sector, as seen in the sorry Solyndra saga, investors continue to see value in smart grid investments, biofuels and electric vehicles.

But the stakes are usually high, the capital costs expensive and the path to profit unclear in uncertain political and economic times in the US. But the gains for the US economy are clear.

Although venture capital represents just 0.2% of US GDP, venture-funded companies account for nearly 17% of GDP, according to the National Venture Capital Association. So it’s in the interest of investors and the US government to keep deal flow moving.

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Claremont Creek Ventures: Nat Goldhaber & Paul Straub

In the past, VCs have been inclined to be attracted towards shiny new gadgets, or widgets that make the gadgets go faster. So it is it refreshing to learn that some VCs, like Nat Goldhaber, managing director at Claremont Creek Ventures, are doing effective investments in energy efficiency, the workhorse of cleantech.

Claremont Creek Ventures specializes in seed and early-stage ventures with more than $300 million under management in two funds. It also has close relationships with some of the country’s brightest innovators at UC Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore Labs and UC Davis.

Goldhaber is the resident expert at Claremont Creek Ventures on energy conservation and management systems. His investments to date include lighting management company Adura Technologies, residential solar finance company Clean Power Finance and HVAC management system firm, EcoFactor.

His colleague, director Paul Straub, Goldhaber also lists Alphabet Energy among his investments. Straub acknowledged the pitfalls with clean tech investments on a recent blog: “Investing in cleantech is not easy nor is it ‘cool’ either. Some lament ‘if only clean tech were more like Facebook.’ Energy is just not as cool as social networking. After all, for most people energy is just a utility they’re accustomed to having cheaply and reliably in order to provide basic living standards and enjoyable things in life – like social networking.”


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