Thursday, 13 September 2007

Clean Sweep 14

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

Nascent wave-power company Embley Energy has won a £150,000 Applied Research grant from the Carbon Trust to develop a prototype of its Sperboy device. When floating in the sea, waves drive air into and out of a chamber within the Sperboy, driving a generator on top. The grant will fund a two-year trial of the low-maintenance buoy, which Embley says can bring the cost of marine power down to a competitive level.

Three diverse biofuel deals this week. Israeli biodiesel start-up Galten landed $10m from a syndicate led by the UK's Capital Partners. The firm is cultivating the oil-rich Jatropha plant in Ghana for conversion to fuel.
Texas-based Endicott Biofuels meanwhile raised $40m private equity from an unnamed investor(s) to build its first biodiesel facility. The company's looking to exploit animal waste, including pork and poultry fats, as a feedstock.
And Wisconsin's Virent Energy Systems raised a $21m second round from local funds Stark Investments and Venture Investors, alongside existing investors Cargill Ventures and Advantage Capital Partners. Virent is developing a catalytic process developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for converting sugars (including glycerol, a by-product of biodiesel production) into gasoline.

Those Californian solar deals just keep rolling. Thermal tech developer Ausra unveiled a circa $43m second round from cleantech big boys Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Khosla Ventures. The firm is currently building a pilot 30MW solar thermal plant, and aims to build a 175MW installation in California, which would be the US's largest.
Solar installer SolarCity meanwhile raised $21m to expand nationally. Draper Fisher Jurvetson led the round, alongside JP Morgan and company chairman Elon Musk (who also chairs hot electric car group Tesla).

Still in California, green IT group SynapSense raised a $10m second round from Emerald Technology Ventures and existing investors DFJ Frontier, American River Ventures and Nth Power. SynapSense is developing hardware and software to reduce energy consumption in power-hungry data centres.

Fund news
US-based Expansion Capital Partners has closed its new green tech fund at $103m, well above the initial target of just $60m. The Clean Technology Fund will focus on reasonably mature US and Canadian companies.

Further reading
According to the Cleantech Network, cleantech investments in North America and Europe for Q2 2007 totalled just under $1 billion, up 10% from Q1. Of that, $154m was invested in 17 deals in Europe, down substantially on the previous year by value (even with currency effects) but up on the first quarter. $98m of that went to energy, the largest sector on both sides of the Atlantic. IPOs also did well, with 17 cleantech floats raising nearly $1.7bn - a continuing strong exit route seems likely to inspire more deals. More here.

New Energy Finance has an interesting white paper on the lessons of game theory for international emissions-reduction agreements (available as PDF here). The paper supports the transfer of clean technologies to developing economies as a strong incentive for international cooperation.

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