In a report titled Moving Electrons, investment firm Village Capital highlighted the transportation sector as the next big focal point for cleantech investors seeking opportunities to support firms and sectors that are likely to significantly reduce carbon emissions. The report, which was co-sponsored by the Autodesk Foundation, is a collaborative piece based on feedback from an advisory board Village Capital assembled, including Generate Capital President Jigar Shah, Hewlett Foundation Environment Program Officer Marilyn Waite, CleanChoice Energy co-founder Richard Graves and BP Venture Advisor Miriam Eaves. The authors chose to focus on the transportation industry because of its status as the single largest source of carbon dioxide emissions.Moving Electrons points to five subsectors of the transportation industry that they believe to be the next big spaces for cleantech investors: aviation and aerospace, electric vehicles, the sharing economy, mass transit, and trucking and logistics. The report noted that “there are rich opportunities for startups that operate, manufacture or enhance low-emissions aircraft” in the aviation subsection given the growing air traffic, shrinking fares, and the increasing emissions regulations that are putting pressure on fuel costs. Likewise, in the electric-vehicle market, the report pointed to strong opportunities in lithium-ion battery manufacturing and charging technology based on $641.5 million in battery investment across 55 deals in 2017. The report’s focus on ride sharing as part of a cleantech investment strategy stemmed from the authors’ beliefs that the $36 billion global industry is “poised for rapid, sustained growth”. In a similar vein, the report emphasized investments in mass transit as the industry amassed more than $741.2 million in funding in 2017. Lastly, Moving Electrons identified energy-efficiency software and hardware as potential places of investment in the trucking and logistics subsector due to the more than $2 billion in funding that the areas received in 2017. In addition to these five subsectors, Village Capital identified other potential investment opportunities in bioenergy, compressed natural gas, plastics and fibers, and oil and gas refining and distribution.
According to Burns, the decision to highlight these sectors was motivated by the belief that these subsectors have the highest potential for growth at the current time. The information outlined in Moving Electrons is vital to the success and sustained health of the cleanteach industry because knowledge of the subsectors that are more likely to lead to successful returns on investment can help stimulate venture capital interest and thus move the needle forward in the global cleantech industry.