There really is no “cleantech industry.” Rather, there is a cleantech sector, comprised of many different “subsectors” or “verticals,” each of which generally represents an industry of its own. For example, within the “renewable energy” subsector of cleantech, the individual “verticals” include solar, wind, biofuel, hydropower, etc.
The various “verticals” within the cleantech sector are experiencing quite different levels of success and challenge, and often very different levels of investor interest and success. Some of these industries present tremendous opportunities, but there are risks and challenges.
Without question, the clean tech sector continues to face serious challenges:
Much of the public money available during the Obama administration dried up during the Trump administration, and private investors (particularly generalist VCs) became less willing to invest in cleantech companies, particularly early stage companies.
There is continued skepticism as to the need for and viability of the renewable energy and clean tech industries, with particular political volatility surrounding the proposed “Green New Deal.”
There are continuing challenges on issues such as battery technology, energy storage, grid compatibility, growing environmental concerns, and efficiency issues (particularly those that plague the solar and wind power industries and keep those industries from becoming more cost effective and competitive with traditional fossil fuels).
There are continuing challenges posed by high labor costs, taxes, and regulatory burdens often put US manufacturers (and particularly CA manufacturers) at a serious competitive disadvantage to overseas manufacturers.
Yet, despite these challenges, the cleantech sector continues to present great opportunity. Presently, we expect continued growth and success particularly in these industries: