While investing in Cleantech, how do you ensure that you do not fall for poor ideas, fundamentally flawed technologies, exaggerated claims or outright lies?

By taking help from the Cleantech Detective.

Cleantech Investments are on the Rise

With the significant thrust given to investments in sustainability and climate change, it is no surprise that there has been a significant acceleration in the investment in cleantech in the past few years.

Investments in renewable energy alone have been topping $250 billion worldwide since 2011 (except for a small dip in 2013). 2015 saw record investments in clean energy – $ 285 billion. (Source)

Investments in cleantech overall (which includes sectors such as energy efficiency, water, sustainable materials and more) could be multiple times this many, possibly even beyond $1 trillion.

That is a massive amount, and such investments come from a diverse set of sources – Public/government, corporate investments, VC/PEs and of course asset finance from banks/other FIs.

While a good portion of these investments (specifically the government/public financing) is made not with pure financial objectives but with also social objectives in mind, nevertheless, every type of investor expects an investment to be financially viable (with grants being the possible exception).

The Need for a Cleantech Detective

While cleantech is thus a critical area for investments world over, it is also an area where a large number investments have failed.

In addition, as in any other emerging domain, cleantech also has its share of hucksters, if not scamsters.

Our team have been working in the cleantech sector for 10 years. While we have come across many genuinely good efforts, we have also come across an equal number, if not more, of “nothing but hot air” camouflaged as breakthrough ideas.

In some cases, even though the promoter himself/herself is authentic, the idea/technology is fundamentally flawed but the promoter somehow does not realize it or refuses to accept it.

As a result of these challenges, hundreds of investors world over have made poor investments and have already lost a few billion dollars – money that could have been far more productive had the investors only done a better due diligence with an expert.

With investments in cleantech set to increase for the foreseeable future, we foresee a large number of poor ideas and hucksters getting funded. For the investors, investing in such ventures is a pathetic way to see their money go down the drain.

How can investors avoid such poor/bad cleantech investments?

To address this question, we have come up with the concept of Cleantech Detective.


If you are an investor keen on getting a prospective investment investigated by the Cleantech Detective, send a note to hello@cleantech.finance, with brief inputs on Sector, Region, Product profile and Type of investment considered (VC/PE/Debt)


What is the Cleantech Detective service all about?

This is a service that, using our team’s long experience and expertise in cleantech, takes a critical look at a cleantech investment opportunity and sniffs for poor ideas, fundamental flaws or real exaggerations.

The result? If the detective service is able to identify such discrepancies, the investor is saved from investing in a dubious venture, and thus his money (sometimes running into millions of $) is saved.


Who Needs the Cleantech Detective?

Pretty much any investor in Cleantech can do with our detective service, regardless of the size of the investor and the region.

The Cleantech Detective service is available for most cleantech domains.

The service will, however, be most useful to

  • Small and medium sized financial investors, and
  • High net worth individuals keen on making personal investment decisions in cleantech.

Among the type of investors, the Cleantech Detective service will be of great use to:

  • VCs investing in any type of cleantech opportunity
  • PEs investing in any sector of cleantech
  • Banks and other financial institutions investing in cleantech in a pure project finance (with no recourse) mode


What are the Focus Areas of the Cleantech Detective Service?

The Cleantech Detective service is essentially expert due diligence, done by a team with a trained eye for most cleantech domains.

What the Cleantech Detective does is to ensure you do not fall for fundamentally flawed ideas, technically infeasible projects or ridiculously exaggerated claims of the product or the market potential.

Specifically, the Cleantech Detective service will focus on providing customized due diligence for specific investment opportunities:

  • How robust is the technology being projected?
  • How well does the economics of the project play out, especially compared to the currently used and alternative solutions?
  • How robust are the market projections for the solution?
  • How good and relevant are the backgrounds of the founders?


What Cleantech Domains Do We Provide the Detective Services in?

  • Solar Energy
    • Solar Power
      • Solar PV Based Power Generation
        • CPV
      • Solar Thermal Based Power Generation (CSP)
    • Solar Thermal
      • Low Temperature Solar Thermal (Solar Water Heating et al)
      • Medium Temperature Solar Thermal (Commercial Heating)
      • High Temperature Solar Thermal (Commercial & Industrial Heating)
  • Wind Power
    • Small & Rooftop Wind Power Plants
    • Vertical Axis Wind Turbines
  • Biomass Energy
    • Biomass to Heat
    • Biomass to Power
    • Biofuels
      • Biodiesel
      • Ethanol
  • Energy Efficiency
    • Building Energy Efficiency
      • Energy Efficiency in HVAC
      • Energy Efficiency in Lighting
    • Commercial Energy Efficiency
      • Energy Efficient HVAC
    • Industrial Energy Efficiency
      • Energy Efficient Industrial Equipment
      • Combined Heat & Power
      • Waste Heat Recovery
    • Smart Grid
  • Energy Storage
    • Batteries
    • Fuel Cells
    • Thermal Storage
  • Waste Management
    • Industrial Waste Management
    • MSW
    • Sewage Waste Management
    • Agri Waste Management
    • Hazardous Waste Management
    • eWaste Management
    • Plastic Management
    • Anaerobic Digestion of Waste
    • Recycling
  • Sustainable Agriculture
    • Organic Farming
    • Organic Products
      • Organic Food
      • Organic Textiles
  • Green Buildings
  • Emissions Control
    • CO2 Capture && Storage
  • Ocean Energy
    • Tidal Energy
    • Wave Energy
    • Salinity Gradient
    • Ocean Thermal
  • Sustainable Materials
    • Biopolymers & Bioplastics
    • Renewable & Sustainable Chemicals
  • Sustainable Transportation
    • Electric Vehicles
    • Hydrogen Cars
    • Transport Fuel Efficiency


How is this Service Unique?

There is no comparable service offered anywhere in the world for cleantech that the Cleantech Detective offers.

Sure, there are a number of companies offering due diligence services. But most, if not, these services evaluate projects from the perspective of “How Feasible is this Project from Technical / Economic Perspectives?”

The Cleantech Detective views it from a different perspective: We ask ourselves the simple questions

  • Where do we feel the potential investor is being misled, whether unintentionally or deliberately?
  • What do we feel are the real red flags for this project?
  • What could really go wrong?

This difference in perspective, and our long experience in this sector, enable us to dig out a number of exaggerations, misunderstanding, and in some cases, outright lies, that the formal feasibility analyses approach does not.

Is the Detective Service a Substitute for Feasibility Study?

No. This service complements a feasibility study, and in fact, this should precede a feasibility study.

The Detective Service is more to qualitatively ensure that you are not taken for a ride on basics, and to alert you to red flags.

If the Detective Service infers that there are really serious and fundamental flaws in the project or that the investor is being seriously misled on some critical dimensions of the project, the investor need not even undertake the detailed feasibility study, and thus avoid significant waste of time and money.

On the other hand, if the Detective Service finds that there are no fundamental flaws in the project or claims, and points out only to specific areas of concern and red flags, the subsequent feasibility study can also incorporate these aspects in their analyses.

Who is the team behind the Cleantech Detective service?

The Cleantech Detective service is offered by the team at Clixoo.

Clixoo is a company specializing in cleantech domain.

Clixoo has the following divisions:

  • EAI (Energy Alternatives India) – India’s leading renewable energy and cleantech consulting firm
  • Solar Mango – A leading intelligence resource for the Indian and global solar energy sector
  • Clixoo – a boutique firm operating in the intersection of cleantech and software solutions.

In addition to our core team of consultants and researchers, we are acquainted with hundreds of experts across the world, across most cleantech domains, whose expertise we can tap into just in case it is needed for any assignment.


What is the Modus Operandi of the Detective Service?

Most Work is Remote

Our team operates from Chennai, India.

In most cases, we should be able to undertake the detective service remotely. This is because, we use an analysis framework that relies on answers to specific questions, inputs on select parameters, and interviews with both our clients (investors) and the beneficiaries of the investment (typically project promoters and entrepreneurs)

All the above can be done remotely – through Email, Phone, Videoconferencing.


At the end of the assignments, we will submit a brief report that comprises the following:

  • The parameters on which we evaluated the report
  • How the investment fares on each parameter
  • What are the red flags that the investor should watch out for
  • What are the areas of uncertainty, where the investor needs to collect additional inputs from the beneficiary?

If need be, we can also present some of the above deliverables over phone/video conference to the investor.


If you are an investor keen on getting a prospective investment investigated by the Cleantech Detective, send a note to hello@cleantech.finance, with brief inputs on Sector, Region, Product profile and Type of investment considered (VC/PE/Debt)