The Promise and Pitfalls of Venture Capital as an Asset Class for Clean Energy Investment: Research Questions for Organization and Natural Environment Scholars

Alfred Marcus, Joel Baker Malen, Shmuel Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

If venture capital's role in clean energy is to be more transformative in creating a sustainable society then the trends we reveal in this paper must gain momentum, but whether these trends will continue to gain momentum is not certain. We therefore encourage organization and natural environment scholars to follow up on the claims we make in this paper and pursue the questions we raise further. This paper reviews both the potential and the limitations of venture capital (VC) as a source of funding for clean energy. We provide preliminary evidence that venture capitalists (VCs) have been adjusting their operating procedures to accommodate clean energy. First, they have been investing larger amounts of money for longer periods of time. Second, they have started to avoid funding high risk production, distribution, and installation manufacturing and production companies and to a greater degree have been funding companies that focus on the intersection between information technology and energy. Third, besides making bigger bets, stretching out their timetables, and avoiding high risk and capital intensive companies, they have been experimenting with investments in companies with very risky technologies. Were these companies to succeed in commercializing these technologies the impact on the natural environment would be very great. We challenge organization and natural environment scholars to take up questions like these and others that deal with clean energy funding. Amongst a number of possible funding sources, what role is venture capital best suited to play? How would it need to change to play a more significant role? What would have to happen for venture capital to stimulate a major breakthrough, one that was of the magnitude of the Internet in transforming our economy and society in a more sustainable direction?

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-60
Number of pages30
JournalOrganization and Environment
Volume26
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Mar 1
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

energy
momentum
information technology
manufacturing
natural environment
Energy
Natural environment
Venture capital
Assets
Funding
society
trend
Momentum
distribution
economy
World Wide Web
Investing
Production risk
Long period
Manufacturing

Keywords

  • clean energy
  • Department of Energy
  • disruptive innovation
  • high tech
  • organizations and natural environment
  • pension funds
  • private equity
  • solar energy
  • storage
  • venture capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

Cite this

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