Quarterly Wrap-up

Cleantech second-quarter 2014: analysis and outlook

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. The rise of the smart home
  3. Battery storage nearing an inflection point
  4. Elon Musk’s big bets on vertical integration
  5. Big data and big agriculture
  6. Near Term Outlook
  7. Key takeaways
  8. About Adam Lesser


While focus in cleantech continues to turn towards capital-light, digital green efficiency plays, certain moves like SolarCity’s vertical integration of rooftop solar signal an industry that has actually matured as it seeks to slash costs and deliver inexpensive renewable energy. The beginning of energy storage mandates is yet another sign of how renewable energy integration is moving forward.

The quarter saw continued movements within the internet of things space, particularly in the smart home, where Google, Apple, and Samsung are all beginning to hint at their respective strategies for building relationships with customers. And the intersection of big data and agriculture, an often-overlooked area in cleantech, shows how big IT and analytics could make an impact in the stability of the food supply.

This report will examine the following events and their implications for the near term:

  • With Samsung, Apple, and Google all paying increasing amounts of attention to the smart home, a battle is brewing to control the connected-home devices that consumers use as well as the data produced from in-home behavior.
  • The first energy-storage mandates are coming down the line as the grid battery storage sector reaches an inflection point where commercialization of products is becoming an increasing trend. Battery storage makers continue to raise capital as demand slowly increases.
  • SolarCity’s acquisition of solar-panel maker Silevo marks another bet on vertical integration for Elon Musk. Now that SolarCity controls panel making, it is quickly becoming the most integrated solar installer and will be very difficult to compete with.
  • Following Monsanto’s acquisition of The Climate Corp. last year, a number of startups are approaching the agriculture space with big data strategies. Large players like John Deere, IBM, and Dow are all attacking the farming market with sophisticated connected technology aimed at increasing crop yields and managing risk.

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