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Is green tech recession-proof?

Industry observers, insiders weigh in on how much--or whether--an economic downturn would hurt the booming sector.

Discussion of a "clean-tech bubble" has been going on for about two years and as fears of a recession set in, people in the field are starting to ask: how bad will clean-tech companies be hit, if at all, by a slowing economy?

Rob Day, a clean-tech venture capital at @Ventures, appears to have been first out the gate with a blog analyzing the potential impact of a recession, which has already helped take the wind from the sails of public solar companies.

Day lays out the possible scenarios, from increasing investment in clean energy to the floor falling out.

His conclusion is that most likely start-ups in the field will feel the pinch of the economic environment, particularly those that were counting on going public to execute their plans. But they will enjoy a counter-cyclical phenomenon driven by high energy prices and supportive government policies around energy and natural resources.

Willie Brent, who is the vice president of Weber Shandwick's clean-tech practices, queried some of his clients in the field on this subject. The blog posting is worth a read.

The conclusion: "Cleantech, like nearly every other sector, would take a hit, particularly the companies still in need of funding, but it would also find distinct opportunities--in particular efficiency plays."

My own contribution to the discussion ran on CNET's front door this morning. The article looks at the funding gap that faces many new companies in the energy field as they try to go from lab to market. It argues that new funding models are emerging with strategic partnerships with large corporations (see GreatPoint Energy or Coskata) emerging as a trend.

Please alert me if you've seen other thoughtful pieces on the subject. With so much venture money going into the field and energy front-page news, 2008 will be a dynamic year.