Cleantech Group’s Solar Energy practice spans across the entire solar value chain, identifying the key relationships formed between the world’s largest upstream and midstream solar OEMs to the fragmented downstream solar vendors, integrators and installers, varying from geography to end market.  With the solar industry rapidly maturing, Cleantech Group continues to see consolidation as a primary meta-trend in the sector, as demonstrated by the increase in mergers and acquisitions as well as partnerships being formed between vendors across the value chain.

The value chain of distributed solar can perhaps be broken into three segments: Upstream and Midstream Solar (separate, but typically integrated) and Downstream Solar:

  • Upstream: For silicon based PV, the polysilicon and ingot makers reside here.  In thin-film, capital equipment and solar glass are represented.  Because of the commoditized nature of these inputs, there are only a few vendors who operate at global scale to service midstream solar OEMs.  Companies include REC and Wacker.
  • Midstream: The wafers, cells and modules are represented here.  Midstream vendors have already begun to integrate up-and-downstream to become one-stop shops.  Companies include SunPower and Suntech.

Sector Experts

David Cheng, Director, Research & Advisory

David  focuses on the smart grid, energy efficiency in the built environment, and carbon abatement strategies.  He brings to his role a strong understanding of how to identify, finance, and grow innovative and entrepreneurial companies. Prior to the Cleantech Group, David was an associate at Ridgewood Capital, an early to expansion stage venture capital firm focused on information and clean technology, where he was responsible for deal sourcing, due diligence, financial analysis, and portfolio management.  While at Ridgewood, David focused most of his efforts covering the solar, automotive, and smart grid sectors.

Previously, David was a Senior Associate with IDG Ventures in Vietnam where he covered digital media opportunities in the Southeast Asia region. Earlier in his career, David was an analyst for Sempra Energy Solutions in the Natural Gas Portfolio Management group in San Diego.

David is currently an engaged member of Environmental Entrepreneurs (e2) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). He is also active in the San Francisco chapter of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) as a mentor and advisory council board member.  David received a BS in Business Administration from the University of California at Berkeley.

Troy Ault, Research Analyst

Troy supports the senior research staff in company and broader industry-focused research across multiple cleantech segments including energy efficiency, water, smart grid, energy storage, and transportation.

Prior to joining the Cleantech Group, Troy worked with a local Bay Area water conservation software startup providing financial and market research. He also brings experience in energy efficiency, having worked with non-profits in both his home state of Vermont and in Washington, D.C. helping administer residential energy efficiency push-programs. Troy originally joined the Cleantech Group as a research intern helping in energy storage research, and quickly demonstrated competency in the company’s broader portfolio of focus segments.

Troy earned a B.S. in business administration with a concentration in finance at the University of Vermont.