Green dent in the U.S.

The past year was responsible for wind farm, solar companies and battery manufacturers in the U.S., a record year. Now take the economic crisis even with full force. Rescue hope for the clean tech companies from the environmental President Barack Obama.
Harrison Dillon eats what he believes. And the geneticist and founder believes in synthetic algae. His company, founded in 2003 to the Water Plant will not only aircraft, company fleets, heavy machinery and farm vehicles to drive. But also beauty products and oils for the food manufacturing industry. Birthday presented his staff Dillon, a self-baked cake that is not a gram of butter contains only the finest algae from own production. “We tasted the difference did not,” asserts Dillon.
Solazyme is one of dozens of companies that slimy algae to convert into biofuels. Thus, the consumption of fossil fuels market. Investors such as Bill Gates and the Rockefellers in the business see the future. But while investors in the past year about $ 1 billion in Algenvisionäre such as Dillon and his business partner Jonathan Wolfson put, the economic crisis is also the hope of the Silicon Valley industry erwischt. The problem of world saviors from South San Francisco has now almost every clean-tech startup companies in the U.S.: no capital, no commercialism, no climate improvement.

The salvation for the entire industry is now coming from Washington. Ironically, then, where for years the environmental deaf government under George W. Bush fierce opposition to climate change made. People like Solazyme CEO Wolfson have in recent years, rarely in the capital lost: The importance of energy from renewable sources like solar, wind, or even algae was simply too low.

But under Barack Obama is “finally the green era,” says Wolfson. The $ 787 billion in serious economic program will include a gigantic Ökoinvestitionsprogramm. $ 83 billion for the Energy Revolution provides the clean tech sector is Obama one of the most important engines for economic stabilization and a guarantee for millions of new jobs.

Already in the Obama campaign had promised that a “new energy” in his highest priority would be. And when he was last month, the rescue package signed, put it: “I hope this investment will offer our ideas in science, medicine and even more energy and fuel our economy.”

Of the funding, loan guarantees, tax incentives and concessions will benefit many: businesses, households and public authorities. The billions to be, for example, developers and users of clean technologies like electric cars benefit. Or those who make buildings more energy efficient.

Time is short. “A rapid distribution for the financing of such projects could help a lot of potential insolvencies or crippling spending cuts to prevent,” says Tim Carey, clean tech expert at consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. While many companies do not directly receive money. But under Obama, the environment changed so drastically that the companies in a thriving market for their technologies and products can hope.

This is sorely needed. Because the elimination of enthusiastic donors like Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan or Citigroup has a huge hole left behind. Of some two dozen major banks that are capital intensive such as wind or solar projects funded, are barely a handful remained.

American venture capital lenders (VCs) invest still, but have become more cautious. Although the clean tech industry with a growth of 55 percent to 4.1 billion $ 2008 a record year to celebrate, but in the fourth quarter broke the investments in U.S. cleantech companies over the third quarter by 44 percent.

“It is almost impossible to find money to build a commercial production to obtain,” says Wolfson. The 38-year-old chief executive who well remembers how difficult it was for Solazyme, even money for the project to win: “Algae? Your spins!” Was a long time to respond. Finally, he succeeded but at the $ 70 million from VCs collect. Now he needs more than an additional $ 100 million for each plant, in which Dillon of sophisticated micro-algae the environmentally friendly Green in large quantities to produce.

Already some fear in Silicon Valley, that the extensive eco-rescue package has come too late, both for the environment but also for the industry. “The U.S. has a lot to catch up – to have government and private sector work together,” says Dallas Kachan by the Cleantech Group, which in 2002 the investment category of “clean tech” launched.

The investors and startups are not used to cooperate with the government – especially after the eight years under Bush. But since the change of power are regularly green entrepreneurs in the capital and then suddenly take on curious and enthusiastic officers. “The difference is easy to predict indescribable,” said Jason Pyle, chief of the San Diego-based Solazyme rivals Sapphire Energy. He is “very confident that Obama’s campaign promises will be”. Only missing “yet the mechanisms by which the money to be distributed,” says Pyle.

Another problem for the industry: Actually it needs donors with a long breath. “In this sector is much more than project financing, the hundreds of millions of dollars starting capital and devours long, until they pay off,” said Michael Goguen, General Partner at Sequoia Capital, one of the most respected VC firms in Silicon Valley. Such projects are usually associated with debt or investment banks – both due to the credit crisis has been months no more alternatives.

When the money is flowing, nobody knows. Each government agency must prepare a new program, and authorities in many senior positions are not even occupied. “We as a nation have never been so much money in so short a time spent. Much of it is wasted,” says Chuck McDermott of Rockport Capital Partners. It is time.
This is also Shai Agassi. “The question is who the quarterback in the government will be all the threads in the hand,” says the former SAP executive, who with his Silicon Valley startup Better Place is packed, the world of gasoline car to liberate .

The 40-year-old Israeli was only two years ago in order to green, but in the industry, he is long an influential man at the conference on “Constitution of the Silicon Valley”, he was the main speaker and predicted by the economic crisis, hard hit investors entrepreneurs and officials of the next boom Technologietals. “If we take the auto industry to switch electric motors, we lay a few trillion dollars into Silicon Valley,” Agassi promised.

With the move Obama into the White House, the lost years of the Bush era will be compensated. But how many Agassi also believes that the economic package is not much money in its cash flow is. He procured the millions for its projects under way elsewhere.

When and how Obama’s rescue operation in the clean tech industry impact is hotly debated. If it fails, the firms on the old spirit of the Silicon Valley set. Also Solazyme CEO Wolfson. “If necessary, our goal is also achieved without government subsidy,” he says.

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