Startup Spotlight: Kinetic Cleantech

With a chequered past, what does the future hold for cleantech?


Up until recently, Cleantech was an avoid-at-all-costs area for investors. High profile flops - including Solyndra - filed for bankruptcy, despite being handed a $535 million loan.

Although politicians are encouraging investors to buy green, you can understand why they are wary. In Japan, for example, solar developers were tasked with spreading the energy source throughout the country. With there considerable pressure to meet the shortfall in electrical supply after the Fukushima disaster, the alternative energy source was touted as a way to help solve the situation. The project failed, however, costing the Japanese government an estimated $3.5 billion annually.

Yet the situation isn’t as dire as it seems. Recently, Pavegen - a UK based clean-tech startup which wants to harness the kinetic energy produced by pedestrians when they walk - successfully reached its funding target of £750,000 on Crowdcube. Having done it in 48 hours, it’s now the fastest grossing clean-tech company ever to get funding on the crowdfunding site.

Having already surpassed its original target, the company is looking for more, and with 535 investors - a record number on Crowdcube - it’s clear that Pavengen’s caught the eye of many in the industry. Unfortunately, the speed and level of investment says little as to whether the startup can be a success. Many who have invested in similar companies in the past may well have been reluctant to chance their arm again due to the vulnerability and high-risk nature of the companies. Nevertheless, it proves that clean-tech, despite its expensive past, can be an attractive venture.

Pavegen’s idea has been put into practice too. In London’s Canary Wharf, their technology was tested on ten pavement tiles, successfully powering two streetlights. Of course, this is a drop in the ocean if the cleantech company wants to reduce fossil fuel levels, but it shows that the technology works, albeit on a small scale. According to the company’s CEO, Laurence Kemball-Cook, it’s been deployed in 30 countries in total.

TechCrunch reported that Pavegen’s tech is best suited to areas close to transport hubs, where thousands of people pass everyday. Sports stadiums are also primed for it, with the most substantial deployment being used to power floodlights around a football pitch in Rio De Janero.

We need more companies to invest in clean-tech. As the pressure on governments to tackle global warming increases, companies like Pavegen will become more and more important. Raising £2m is impressive, and shows that clean-tech, regardless of its past, isn’t repelling investors like it used to.


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