Sunday, October 7, 2012

Zinc Air Inc Working with Energy Pioneer Jigar Shah

Jigar Shah pioneered a financing model that's contributed to a recent boom in solar-panel installation. He's now looking to do the same for other clean energy technologies.

In 2003, Shah founded SunEdison, a company that developed a way to build corporate and government solar installations by securing agreements to purchase the resulting electricity. It was acquired for $200 million in 2009. Now he's becoming a partner in a new clean-tech fund, Inerjys, which is raising $1 billion to tackle what Shah views as the biggest obstacle to reducing carbon emissions and fossil fuel consumption. He argues that the choke point is not in developing new breakthrough technologies, as some investors believe. Rather, he says, it's in finding "breakthrough deployment" models that would move technologies into widespread commercial use.

Shah says the traditional venture capital model has forced the founders of clean-tech companies to relinquish too much equity in hopes of scaling up and commercializing their breakthroughs. He says that has been a bad situation for all involved: founders become less motivated as their ownership is reduced, and yet this model hasn't given many companies enough capital to make significant progress

At Inerjys, Shah wants to turn his attention to "underappreciated technologies" like Rentricity's. In his most recent position as CEO of Richard Branson's nonprofit climate-change initiative the Carbon War Room, he says, he unearthed hundreds of technologies in more than a dozen sectors that could return their initial investments within two years.

Another example Shah cites is Zinc Air, a Montana-based startup developing a grid-storage battery based on an established chemistry that could be profitable in some regions today. Zinc Air vice president Craig Wilkins says the company is avoiding federal government grants and loan guarantees and plans to market its technology to stand on its commercial merits. He's optimistic as he seeks investment to build the first commercial projects, but he must overcome the poor reputation that clings to battery companies after previous failures. Like Zammataro at Rentricity, he says new financing models for the energy storage market, such as what Shah did for solar at SunEdison, would be a big innovation for him.

www.ZincAirInc.com

No comments:

Post a Comment