Thursday, 14 June 2007

Clean sweep 2

A round-up of recent news in clean technology and cleantech investment.

Biomass CHP firm O-Gen UK has received £10m in a funding round led by Foresight Venture Partners. The Staffordshire company will use the funding to build its first 3MWe plant.

Another biomass CHP group, Austrian Cycleenergy, has closed a Euro6.7m round led by 3i-backed 3TS Capital Partners. The firm is building biomass and biogas plants in Central and Eastern Europe, and aims to raise over Euro100m in equity, mezzanine and debt financing over the next two years.

German fuel cell start-up FutureE has closed an unspecified seed round with Business Angel Forum Region Stuttgart and L-Bank. FutureE will use the funding to develop its range of modular 0.5-4kW PEM cells.

Danish PV firm SunFlake has secured start-up funding from Seed Capital Denmark. A spin-out from Copenhagen University, SunFlake is developing highly efficient solar cells based on a patented semiconductor nanostructure.

CompactGTL has reportedly received funding from Novo Capital Management. The Oxfordshire-based converts the gas found in oil fields into synthetic crude oil, avoiding economically and environmentally wasteful flaring or re-injection. (This may be outside some definitions of cleantech, of course.)

Market news
"Cleantech has been the real revolutionary factor that has restored investor appetite for venture capital. Investors have regained hope of another quantum deal." So says EVCA general secretary Javier Echarri, unveiling the association's survey of private equity performance and activity for 2006. The figures confirmed a big rise in early-stage venture capital - VC funds raised a total Euro17bn new money, up 60% on 2005 and approaching the 2000 high of Euro22bn. Seed investments totalled Euro1.7bn (up from just Euro96m in 2005) in 462 companies, while start-up investment more than doubled to Euro5.6bn in nearly 2000 companies. Cleantech didn't feature in the sector break-down - something to consider for next year?

London-based New Energy Finance has released its Clean Energy League Tables for 2006, showing the sector's top investors and professional firms. In the venture capital and private equity category, 3i took top investor by total investment, while Draper Fisher Jurvetson was most active by number of disclosed investment rounds. Law group Orrick was top legal advisor for target companies.

US asset manager PowerShares has launched a new clean energy portfolio product. The PowerShares Global Clean Energy Portfolio tracks the Wilderhill New Energy Global Innovation Index (jointly published by New Energy Finance) which includes 80-90 companies including renewable energy, biofuels and emerging low-carbon tech from Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas. PowerShares also manages US 'clean' and 'progressive energy' funds, and launched a general US cleantech fund in October 2006.

Further reading
The Economist's Technology Quarterly highlighted some interesting tech: aerial wind farms (I'm particularly intrigued by the twin kites idea); and hydrothermal cooling for city air conditioning. There's also a hard look at the economics of recycling, highlighting the need for further innovation in both product design and reclamation technology.

AltEnergyStocks, a Canadian specialist investment site, has introduced a cleantech news page of items culled from other news sites and blogs.

Newsweek interviews US VC legend Vinod Khosla about cleantech investment and ethanol fuel.

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