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Monday, January 25, 2010

Merc belatedly discovers efficiency

The front page story in Monday’s San Jose Mercury is about how the latest trend in cleantech is energy efficiency. (That story is about 6 months behind the times, but better late than never).

Of local companies, it mentions Serious Materials, a VC-funded firm in Sunnyvale that makes energy efficient windows and drywall. It also mentions Recurve, a 65-person company that does energy audits. It also mentions national trends, such as increasing VC investment in energy efficiency and the rumored “stimulus 2” bill that would encourage more spending on retrofitting homes.

But is that all there is to efficiency? Why didn’t the Valley’s hometown newspaper talk about LED light bulbs being developed locally by hitech companies young (Bridgelux) and old (National Semi, Micron)? (To be fair, last week the Merc reported the expansion and $50m additional VC landed by Bridgelux for its move to Livermore).

OK, so no story can cover everything. I’ve heard Serious CEO Kevin Surace point out that his decidedly unsexy efficiency product can have a payback period of 1-2 years. Meanwhile, the PV world is worry about performance degradations, cost of capital and subsidies to make a 20 year payoff term work.

Still, the Merc’s coverage of EE/RE seems pretty superficial — about like the Internet in 1994 or 1995. Just as CNET was the place to track the Internet, cleantech readers do better with Greentech Media (and not just because senior analyst and RE guru Eric Wesoff is a LinkedIn friend who’s saying nice things about my latest iPhone blogging effort.)

Unfortunately, that plays into the template of the overall decline of general interest media. The niche media (online version of trade journals) offers better, faster, cheaper coverage of important developments, leaving local papers to offer an occasional simplified version of the story.