Thursday, 22 November 2007

Clean Sweep 23

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

Reading-based energy tech supplier Semplice Energy has raised $1.23m from Bahamas-based BIP Fund.
Founded in 2005, Semplice provides energy efficiency and renewable energy products, plus consulting, design and installation services, to business customers including Mothercare, Macdonalds and Tesco.

German specialist investor Ecolutions has secured undisclosed pre-IPO funding from heroically-named Swiss network Mountain Super Angel.
Frankfurt-based Ecolutions invests in emissions-reducing projects in China and India which generate tradeable certificates under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Projects include biomass power stations, methane extraction from sludge, and solar and wind power. Ecolutions is aiming to list on the Frankfurt Open Market in early December.

Sketchy news on two Israeli solar deals: start-up XJet has raised $9m from Gemini Israel Funds, Good Energies, Taiwanese semiconductor group Spirox and others (although XJet is so stealthy it doesn't seem to have a website as yet, Gemini has the details here). And CPV developer Pythagoras Solar has raised an undisclosed amount from an un-named investor (thanks for sharing, guys).

Californian CPV firm Solfocus meanwhile closed its rolling fundraising at $63.6m. The firm announced it had raised $52m of a planned $70m round back in September.

Here's an interesting technology - motion-to-energy developer M2E Power has raised an $8m first round from OVP Venture Partners, @Ventures and Highway 12 Ventures. The firm is developing power units for mobile electronic devices which generate electricity from physical movement. Details on the pat-pending tech are sketchy, but it appears to be a refinement on the familiar induction method of moving a magnet through a wire coil.
M2E, a spin-out from the Idaho National Laboratory, is primarily focusing on military applications (not every cleantech firm boasts that its chief scientist is 'a veteran of the Vietnam war'). The tech also has potential in anything from mobile phones to large-scale wind and wave power - as @Ventures' Rob Day notes, it's another reason to dance with your MP3 player.

Indian VC UTI Ventures has led a $8m first round in newly-merged waste management group Pesco Beam. The group combines US-based Pesco (Pragmatic Environmental Solutions) with Chennai-based Beam Solutions, and deals primarily with recycling waste oils. The group is seeking a further $25-30m round next year.

Further reading
A new UK government-commissioned report calls for much more support for on-site renewable energy installations. "Advancing Renewables Together", compiled by consultants Element Energy on behalf of DBERR's Renewables Advisory Board, analyses the role of on-site generation in meeting the government's target of ensuring that all new homes are 'zero carbon' by 2016. The policy could create a market for renewables installations worth £2 billion a year, the report claims, but the government needs to find "new ways of bringing forward demand for renewables before 2016, as part of an explicit strategy to build capacity in both the construction sector and in the UK onsite renewables industry". The report calls for R&D into sub-1MW biomass CHP to be made a national priority.

When it comes to trying to build an innovative industry cluster, your regional development types always look to California as the exemplar (even the ones in Yorkshire do it). So there's plenty to chew on in a new report on California's thriving cleantech industry from the non-profit Next10 group headed by veteran VC F Noel Perry. The California Green Innovation Index looks at the factors driving innovation and bringing economic and environmental benefits to the state, including the AB 32 policy of returning to 1990 emissions levels by 2020 (a pretty modest target, but well ahead of the rest of the US). Leading numbers: California holds 44% of US patents in solar technologies and 37% in wind, and 36% of US cleantech VC investment.
The full report is available as a 1.4Mb PDF here.

Depressing reading on the the six sins of greenwash from North American 'environmental marketing agency' TerraChoice. A study of environmental claims made for over 1,000 different consumer products identified only one that wasn't either misleading or demonstrably false.
Should cleantech companies and investors worry? Such ubiquitous marketing bollocks means that genuinely clean products or services risk losing their market share to their less clean (in either sense) rivals; there's also the risk of this fostering cynicism about any and all environmental claims.

And a reminder of what it's all about - the latest IPCC synthesis report warns for the first time of the risk of "abrupt and irreversible" impacts of climate change. The report, a summary of the three studies released earlier this year, features starker warnings in response to complaints that those earlier reports were inappropriately conservative.
With regards to cleantech solutions, the report concludes that there is high agreement and much evidence of substantial economic potential for the mitigation of global emissions over the coming decades, but notes that no single technology can provide all off the mitigation potential in any sector.
The summary report can be downloaded as a 6.4Mb PDF here.

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