Accelerating Clean Energy Commercialization: A Strategic Partnership Approach

Jacquelyn Pless, Richard Adams, Ken Locklin

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Technology development in the clean energy and broader clean tech space has proven to be challenging. Long-standing methods for advancing clean energy technologies from science to commercialization are best known for relatively slow, linear progression through research and development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D); and characterized by well-known valleys of death for financing. Investment returns expected by traditional venture capital investors have been difficult to achieve, particularly for hardware-centric innovations, and companies that are subject to project finance risks. Commercialization support from incubators and accelerators has helped address these challenges by offering more support services to start-ups; however, more effort is needed to fulfill the desired clean energy future. The emergence of new strategic investors and partners in recent years has opened up innovative opportunities for clean tech entrepreneurs, and novel commercialization models are emerging that involve new alliances among clean energy companies, RDD&D, support systems, and strategic customers. For instance, Wells Fargo and Company (WFC) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have launched a new technology incubator that supports faster commercialization through a focus on technology development. The incubator combines strategic financing, technology and technical assistance, strategic customer site validation, and ongoing financial support.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages24
StatePublished - 2016

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A60-65374


  • accelerator
  • clean energy financing
  • cleantech
  • commercialization
  • entrepreneurship
  • incubator
  • investment
  • public-private partnerships
  • renewable energy
  • valleys of death
  • venture capital
  • Wells Fargo


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