Valley clean energy innovation can prosper, it just takes awhile
Originally posted on Gigaom:
Two Silicon Valley-backed Bay Area companies appear to be the tech vendors behind Apple’s (s AAPL) new sizable and pioneering clean power push at its massive data center in North Carolina. Last week it was revealed that solar panel maker SunPower(s SPWRA) will provide Apple with panels for a 20MW solar farm, while I reported earlier this month that fuel cell maker Bloom Energy looks to be the vendor behind Apple’s 5MW fuel cell farm. The significance of Apple opting to partner with two Valley-born clean power firms illustrates that the greentech venture ecosystem can work — it just takes quite a long time.
San Jose, Calif.-based solar panel maker SunPower was founded way back in the mid-80s by Stanford electrical engineering professor Richard Swanson and received early funding from the Department of Energy, the Electric Power Research Institute, two venture capital firms and chip firm Cypress Semiconductor. The company went public in the spring of 2005, bought venture-backed Berkeley, Calif.-based solar installer Powerlight in late 2006, and more recently was bought by French oil giant Total.
Sunnyvale, Calif-based fuel cell maker Bloom Energy was founded a decade ago, though only came out of stealth two years ago, and was venture capital firm Kleiner Perkin’s first foray into greentech. Bloom also counts venture firm NEA as an investor, and Bloom raised its latest $150 million round of funding in late 2011.