Monday, April 07, 2008

Investment Perspectives for the Water Sustainability Market

Have been discussing investment opportunities in the cleantech space with a number of investment groups, particularly in the water sector, which has not received much buzz or press to date. But given critical water demands here in the US (see the recent drought and related policy issues in the southeast) and overseas (need for consistent potable water supplies, as well as for agriculture), it is apparent that this sector within 'cleantech' has significant room to grow.

One investment group that is solely focused on the water sector is XPV Capital in Toronto Canada. I had a chance to talk with Khalil Maalouf, who is a partner, about the market conditions and emerging trends in the water sector. They are focusing solely on investments in water -related ventures, and have a 'book' of 300 or so investment opportunities worldwide in this general sector that they are tracking. Khalil generally described their interest in the following broad categories (I am paraphrasing to a certain degree; my notes in italics):

  • Energy Efficiency of treatment & distribution systems
  • Security (I am assuming it could be both physical and IT related security)
  • Scarcity of Supply (identification of new sources, cost & time effective means of capture)
  • Waste minimization (sludge management / recycling)
  • Materials substitution (less toxic and less use of chemicals for treatment)

(I think another segment for investment opportunities is Information Technology; those required to find, capture, treat, distribute, recycle & reuse, and optimize systems throughout the water lifecycle)

Following XPV's definitions (and those of others) it would indicate that the market sector fo water sustainability opportunities itself is very broad. So what segments might catalyze interest and growth? I think energy efficiency technology to develop water supplies (includes technology such as desalination) and for water treatment may get traction, especially in arid areas such as the Middle East.

Following a recent post I wrote (link), another area of investment opportunity could be those technologies to allow for assessing, managing, and optimizing water use throughout the lifecycle of a product (consumer, construction, and industrial would be important verticals). This "embedded water" or "water footprinting" concept seems to have caught on in EMEA already; it remains to be seen how soon it follow similar concepts for CSR and sustainability reporting here in the US.

1 comment:

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