Thursday, 27 September 2007

Clean Sweep 16

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

University spin-out EVO Electric (no online presence that I can find as yet) has raised £1.5m funding. Uni tech transfer company Imperial Innovations led the round with a £375,000 investment, and now holds 38% of EVO. Consensus Business Group, a family trust vehicle for the Tchenguiz brothers, and a group of private individuals also joined the round. Consensus previously managed Imperial Innovation's AIM listing in July 2006, and has continued to work closely with the group.
EVO is developing high power-density electric motors and generators for applications including traction motors in hybrid-electric vehicles. The axial flux technology is based on research by Michael Lamperth at Imperials' Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The UK government-backed Carbon Trust has announced a £3.5m investment in marine energy technology. The funding, part of the Trust's Technology Accelerator programme, aims to speed the commercialisation of marine power by reducing costs and introducing new device concepts. The Trust is working with three companies to cut the costs of installation, operation and maintenance - AWS Ocean Energy, which is using the Trust's support to develop its submerged Archimedes Wave Swing device; AIM-listed Ocean Power Technologies; and Norwegian group Hammerfest Strom.

German water filtration developer Weise Water Systems has raised a Euro325,000 investment from early-stage investor Leonardo Ventures. Leonardo takes a 49% stake in the membrane filtration business, which is targeting industrial markets, relief organisations and off-grid households.

Hotly tipped solar business Miasolé has raised a further $50m funding. The round, Miasolé's fourth, includes six new investors who weren't identified. Previous backers include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, VantagePoint Venture Partners, Garage Technology Ventures and Nippon Kouatsu Electric.
Miasolé is developing thin-film silicon-free solar cells based on copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) tech. Competitors include HelioVolt and Nanosolar.

In one of the year's biggest deals for clean(ish) tech, coal conversion group GreatPoint Energy raised a $100m third round. Dow Chemical and Citi Sustainable Development Investments led the round alongside AES Corp, Suncor Energy and existing VC backers.
GreatPoint is commercialising a catalytic process for converting coal and biomass into natural gas. The process may be a relatively efficient way of exploiting low-quality supplies such as lignites and tar sands. The company aims to locate production plants close to coal mines which can be used for carbon sequestration.

Fund news
London-based investor HgCapital has boosted its renewable energy team with a couple of new recruits and some internal promotions. Jean Perarnaud, formerely at ING Bank, and Jens Thomassen, from Crédit Agricole's Calyon investment bank, join as associate directors. Team co-founder Emma Tinker meanwhile becomes director.
HgCapital launched its Euro300m Hg Renewable Power Partners fund in 2004. Its most recent investment, in UK wind farm operator RidgeWind, brings its portfolio to over 120MW renewable energy capacity in construction or operation and 700MW in development.

Further reading
New investment stats from Ernst & Young and VentureOne show continuing growth in cleantech VC during the first half of the year. Globally, cleantech investments reached $1.1bn – European investment, at $80m in 19 deals, continues to be dwarfed by US activity ($893m in 71 deals). Cleantech's share of the overall VC market reached 4.4% in Europe (up from 1.6% in 2001) and 5.4% in the US (from 1.4%). E&Y's Gil Forer predicts continuing bullishness from VC investors and more IPOs.

The Yorkshire Post reports on plans from regional development agency Yorkshire Forward to take the lead in carbon capture. The region has three major coal-fired power stations – Drax, Ferrybridge and Eggborough – and plenty of disused mines to pump the stuff into. The RDA reckons that by already signing up the likes of BP, Shell, E.ON, Drax and Scottish and Southern Energy, it has a good chance of getting the £100m of government funding that's up for grabs.

Entertaining post from cleantech PR specialist William Brent on the dearth of clean toilet technology:
Sadly, the number of self-composting, or dry, toilets on the market is pitiful, with Biolan, Biolet and Envirolet apparently the only ones who make enough money to advertise. Nor was I able to find any evidence of a company on the Internet that has a next generation waterless toilet technology, despite the fact that only one-sixth of the world’s population is served by sewage systems[...] All of this to say there is an opening to invest in new solutions.
Maybe VCs are just too wary of seeing their money go down the pan.

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