Thursday, 4 October 2007

Clean Sweep 17

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

Thin-film solar firm Konarka announced a $45m private round from new and existing investors. New investor Mackenzie Financial, a generalist investment manager, led the round alongside existing investor Good Energies, a leading renewables specialist. Pegasus Capital also joined in, along with existing investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Asenqua Ventures, New Enterprise Associates and 3i; plus a string of minority investors.
Konarka is developing what it calls 'Power Plastic', polymer-based solar cells which can be printed on a flexible plastic base. The new round follows major fundraisings for some of its competitors – $77m for Heliovolt in August, and $50m for MiasolĂ© just last week.

A couple of big US wind deals this week. East Coast windfarm developer EverPower Renewables raised $55m from Good Energies (yes, them again). The firm is currently developing 1.5GW worth of projects in seven states.
And California-based wind turbine manufacturer Nordic Windpower received an undisclosed 'significant investment' from Goldman Sachs. Nordic's low-maintenance turbines are based on Swedish state-backed research going back to the 1970s. The firm aims to start production in the US next year.

Biofuel group Ceres meanwhile raised $75m from private equity giant Warburg Pincus. Ceres is using genetic modification to develop a portfolio of biofuel feedstock crops with substantial environmental benefits over the usual ethanol feedstocks - a mix of technology and outcome which could cause a dilemma for old-school greens... Its first product, a high-yield switchgrass cultivar, is due for release in 2009.

Demand response group ConsumerPowerline has closed a $17m first round led by Expansion Capital Partners. Bessemer Venture Partners, Schneider Electric Ventures, the New York City Investment Fund and Vantania Holdings also joined the round.
The firm provides energy efficiency and management services, metering technologies, etc, to help customers reduce their energy costs by reducing demand at peak periods.

Fund news
Belgian tech specialist Capricorn Venture Partners has raised Euro50m for its new Capricorn Cleantech Fund, halfway towards the target closing. Investors include regional investment company LRM and energy group Electrabel, part of the Suez Group. Capricorn has already backed Dutch micro-filtration group fluXXion and Belgian algal biofuel company SBAE Industries from the fund.

Further reading
Third quarter figures from New Energy Finance show a sizeable drop in cleantech VC deals and IPOs. Deals totalled $2.7bn, less than half the value in Q2; while IPOs valuations totalled only $673m, down from almost $4bn. Hardly unexpected given the usual summer lull and the particularly unpleasant market conditions, and NEF remains as bullish as ever, forecasting 'another record year'. Total new investment up 25% to $94.5bn, with VC/PE funding up 31.3% to $8.8bn and IPO valuations up 31.7% to $13.7bn, is the forecast for year-end. More numbers in the press release, available here as a PDF.

News on a couple of big wave energy projects. The proposed Severn Barrage got the thumbs-up from the Sustainable Development Commission despite worries about its effect on protected wildlife sites. The proposed 10-mile barrage across the Severn estuary could supply some 17TWh of energy, 4.4% of the UK's current supply needs.
Meanwhile, off the northern coast of Portugal, the world's first commercial wavefarm is preparing to commence operations. The first stage of the project features three 'sea snake' devices from the UK's own Pelamis Wave Power (formerly Ocean Power Delivery).

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