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Venture Capital Investment in the Clean Energy Sector

Author

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  • Shikhar Ghosh

    () (Harvard Business School, Entrepreneurial Management Unit)

  • Ramana Nanda

    () (Harvard Business School, Entrepreneurial Management Unit)

Abstract

We examine the extent to which venture capital is adequately positioned for the rapid commercialization of clean energy technologies in the United States. While there are several startups in clean energy that are well-suited to the traditional venture capital investment model, our analysis highlights a number of structural challenges related to VC investment in the sector that are particularly acute for startups involved in the production of clean energy. One of key bottlenecks threatening innovation in energy production is the inability of VCs to exit their investments at the appropriate time. This hurdle did exist in industries such as biotechnology and communications networking that faced a similar problem when they first emerged, but was ultimately overcome by changes in the innovation ecosystem. However, incumbents in the oil and power sector are different in two respects. First, they are producing a commodity and hence face little end-user pressure to adopt new technologies. Second, they do not tend to feel as threatened by potential competition from clean energy startups, given the market structure and regulatory environment in the energy sector. We highlight that the problem is unlikely to get solved without the active involvement of the government. Even if it does, historical experience suggests it may take several years.

Suggested Citation

  • Shikhar Ghosh & Ramana Nanda, 2010. "Venture Capital Investment in the Clean Energy Sector," Harvard Business School Working Papers 11-020, Harvard Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:11-020
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    File URL: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/11-020.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Goldfarb, Brent & Kirsch, David & Miller, David A., 2007. "Was there too little entry during the Dot Com Era?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 100-144, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mariana Mazzucato & Caetano C.R. Penna, 2014. "Beyond Market Failures: The Market Creating and Shaping Roles of State Investment Banks," Working Papers Series 7, Institute for New Economic Thinking.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:4:p:1204-:d:141339 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Uyarra, Elvira & Shapira, Philip & Harding, Alan, 2016. "Low carbon innovation and enterprise growth in the UK: Challenges of a place-blind policy mix," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 264-272.
    4. Rasmus Lema & Björn Johnson & Allan Dahl Andersen & Bengt-Åke Lundvall & Ankur Chaudhary (ed.), 2014. "Low-Carbon Innovation and Development," Globelics Thematic Reviews, Globelics - Global Network for Economics of Learning, Innovation, and Competence Building Systems, Aalborg University, Department of Business and Management, number low-carbon.
    5. Chang, Youngho & Fang, Zheng & Li, Yanfei, 2016. "Renewable energy policies in promoting financing and investment among the East Asia Summit countries: Quantitative assessment and policy implications," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 427-436.
    6. Mariana Mazzucato & Gregor Semieniuk, 2016. "Financing Renewable Energy: Who is Financing What and Why it Matters," SPRU Working Paper Series 2016-12, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    7. Victoria Shestalova & Chiara Criscuolo & Nick Johnstone & Carlo Menon, 2014. "Renewable energy policies and cross-border investment: evidence from M&A in solar and wind energy," CPB Discussion Paper 288, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    8. repec:eee:tefoso:v:127:y:2018:i:c:p:8-22 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Jonas Sonnenschein, 2016. "Understanding indicator choice for the assessment of research, development, and demonstration financing of low-carbon energy technologies: Lessons from the Nordic countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 048, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. Cumming, Douglas & Henriques, Irene & Sadorsky, Perry, 2016. "‘Cleantech’ venture capital around the world," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 86-97.

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