Thursday, 12 July 2007

Clean Sweep 6

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

Zouk Ventures has led a Euro10m round in wireless tech developer Nanotron, investing from its Cleantech Europe fund. The Berlin-based business produces RFID-based data transmission systems for the manufacturing, logistics and healthcare sectors. Previous investors including Polytechnos, Danfoss, and (deep breath now) IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft VC Fonds Berlin also joined in the round, Nanotron's fourth.
It might seem a bit of stretch to call this a cleantech deal, but Zouk's PR is playing up the energy-efficiency of Nanotron's tech. According to the company's website, their products have a battery life measured in years rather than the months of conventional RFID systems.

Swiss investment network BrainsToVentures (b-to-v) has backed innovative energy company Rabtherm (NB - website in German). The Zurich-based company has developed a patented heat exchanger technology which, when deployed in sewers, generate heat and energy from the passing contents (further proof to the old saw that where there's muck, there's brass). Investment details were not disclosed.

Canada's 6N Silicon has raised C$6m funding in a round led by Ventures West and Yaletown Venture Partners. The firm is commercialising its proprietary process for purifying cheap silicon into the high-quality feedstock required by solar panel manufacturers. Toronto-based 6N has also secured funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada to develop a pilot manufacturing line.

Concentrating solar power is still hot, with New York start-up SkyFuel raising $1.6m from angel investors. The firm is a spin-out from Columbia Business School, and is headed by solar guru Arnold Leitner. SkyFuel plans to build its first manufacturing facility in New Mexico.

Fund news
Spanish mid-market house Qualitas Equity Partners is reported to be marketing a new Euro300m fund, Q Energy, to invest in wind energy projects.

Further reading
The Economist presents an overview of China's growing energy demands. Many cleantech investors see China as a major market for alternative energy systems, but the Economist is less optimistic:
Given China's apprehensions about import-dependence and its colossal pollution problems, the prospects for China's fledgling alternative energy industry should be bright. In reality, however, the government's targets will be difficult to achieve, and the industry faces so many impediments that even its most ardent advocates are at best only cautiously optimistic about its future. The main hurdle continues to be cost. Although technologies needed to generate electricity from alternative energy sources are getting cheaper and more efficient in China, production remains relatively expensive, particularly when compared with coal-based energy[...] Meanwhile, the central government will continue to face difficulties preventing local authorities and township enterprises from building cheap, inefficient coal-fired power plants.

No comments: