I have known MEMS and nanotechnology analyst Marlene Bourne ever since my stint a few years ago at Small Times magazine, where she was a columnist and I was news editor. I have always admired the way she injects a voice of reason into any topic she writes about, whether it's MEMS accelerometers for automotive air bags or the latest trend in nanotech-related investing: "cleantech."
The latter is the topic of one of Marlene's podcasts, where she continues her tradition of cutting through all the latest hype-and-deflate media cycles and gets to the bottom line. And, knowing Marlene, any opinion she gives -- even in the brief podcast format -- is backed by research and data. Everybody should check out her latest venture, The Bourne Report and associated podcasts, including this one on the cleantech investment bandwagon.
Marlene has seen hype before, so I believe her when she writes that although investors have put a lot of money into renewable energy -- also known as green power or cleantech -- and have flocked to anything related to solar energy, you need to look at what's commercially available now.
"Given the level of funding these startups have received and the number of new companies that continue to enter this segment, in my opinion I think there's a bit of a bubble emerging here. I've definitely seen it happen before," Marlene says.
Marlene talks about how the cleantech investment phenomenon is not new, but the difference now is that enabling technology, including nanotech, is finally almost ready for prime time. New nanomaterials and fabrication methods make for photovoltaic cells that are smaller and more efficient, for example. But, Bourne warns, we're still looking at a minimum of five years before there's any real market impact of note in next-generation solar cells.
Marlene does see two other small tech enabled energy applications that are more near term. I won't give it away, though. Listen to find out.