WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will establish a $7.2 million commercialization fund that will be divided among three DOE national laboratories: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will receive up to $4 million, Oak Ridge National Laboratory up to $2.5 million, and Sandia National Laboratories up to $700,000. The three national laboratories will use the funds for clean energy technologies that have advanced beyond the research stage, moving the technologies toward commercial viability though prototype development, demonstration projects, market research, and other deployment activities.
The DOE emphasis on commercialization comes at a good time, as U.S. venture capital investments in the “CleanTech” sector reached a record high for the first three quarters of 2007. According to data from Thomson Financial and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), 158 deals resulted in $2.6 billion invested in CleanTech, which includes clean energy as well as other environmental products. Solar energy garnered the lion’s share of the investments, with 35 deals worth a total of $664.6 million, while the relatively mature wind power industry drew only four deals worth $62.9 million. One of the largest single venture capital deals was a $77 million investment in Heliovolt Corporation, a maker of thin-film solar cells.