DOE Creates a $7.2 Million Clean Energy Commercialization Fund

December 5, 2007

DOE announced on November 29th that it will establish a $7.2 million commercialization fund to be divided among three DOE national laboratories: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will receive up to $4 million, Oak Ridge National Laboratory up to $2.5 million, and Sandia National Laboratories up to $700,000. The three national laboratories will use the funds for clean energy technologies that have advanced beyond the research stage, moving the technologies toward commercial viability though prototype development, demonstration projects, market research, and other deployment activities. The new fund was announced in conjunction with an announcement on solar thermal power funding. See the DOE press release.

The DOE emphasis on commercialization comes at a good time, as U.S. venture capital investments in the "CleanTech" sector reached a record high for the first three quarters of 2007. According to data from Thomson Financial and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), 158 deals resulted in $2.6 billion invested in CleanTech, which includes clean energy as well as other environmental products. Solar energy garnered the lion's share of the investments, with 35 deals worth a total of $664.6 million, while the relatively mature wind power industry drew only four deals worth $62.9 million. One of the largest single venture capital deals was a $77 million investment in Heliovolt Corporation, a maker of thin-film solar cells. See the NVCA press release (PDF 38 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

Meanwhile, the United States and the European Union have submitted a proposal to the World Trade Organization to remove trade barriers to clean energy technologies and services. The proposal calls for eliminating worldwide tariffs on a specific list of climate-friendly technologies, as well as a commitment by most countries to eliminate trade barriers for a wide range of environmental technologies and services. See the press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.