Monday, 7 January 2008

Clean Sweep 27

A round-up of recent news (from either side of the holidays) in clean technology and cleantech investment. Happy new year, everyone!

Germany's Schmack Biogas signed a Euro130m funding deal with mid-market private equity group HgCapital. The 'strategic framework agreement' funds the construction of up to 15 biogas plants with a total capacity of around 30MW over the next two years. The deal helps HgCapital build one of the world's largest biogas portfolios.
Since launching in 1995, Schmack has built just over 200 plants with total nominal output of 61MW.

Across the pond, next-gen battery firm Boston Power raised a $45m third round led by Oak Investment Partners. New money goes to scaling up business development, marketing and R&D, and moving its Sonata Li-ion laptop battery into production. The company is the first US firm to win approval from the Nordic Ecolabel scheme.
Young Californian battery developer Deeya Energy meanwhile raised a $15m second round from New Enterprise Associates and previous investors including DFJ. The firm's 'L-Cell' batteries are designed for industrial back-up applications, using tanks of dissolved electrolyte aspower storage. The tech can potentially be used to smooth output from variable energy sources such as wind and solar.

There's still VC appetite for biofuels, despite the pulled IPO by Imperium Renewables. Massachusetts-based Ethos Energy landed an undisclosed first round from cleantech pioneer Khosla Ventures and GreatPoint Ventures. Ethos however shuns the over-funded (and far from clean) US corn ethanol market in favour of sugarcane-based ethanol projects in South and Central America.

Also in stealthy first rounds, Pyron Solar secured undisclosed funding from Swiss investor New Energies Invest. Pyron is commercialising utility-scale concentrating solar installations, based on tech developed with Boeing's Spectrolab solar subsidiary. The firm currently has a 6.6KW prototype and is planning full-scale pilot projects in the US, Spain and China.

Fund news
Platina Finance has held a Euro74.6m first close on its European Renewable Energy Fund. Final target is Euro205m. Platina invests in renewable energy projects and companies as well as industrial buyouts - renewables investments range from Euro1-3m development funding to Euro50m project finance, with a focus on European wind, biomass and solar. The firm has offices in London and Paris.

Further reading
Global clean energy investment broke the '$100bn barrier' in 2007, according to figures from New Energy Finance. New money topped $117bn, from $83bn in 2006, and well ahead of predictions (the weak dollar may be a factor here, of course). Almost half of that was asset financing, with wind taking the largest share.
Venture capital and private equity accounted for $8.5bn, up 27% on '06. Early stage saw the biggest rise, reaching $1.8bn; while late stage VC fell slightly to $1.1bn. Solar took $3bn; biofuels was down at $2bn; wind took $1.8bn; and energy efficiency $1.2bn.
More details in the PDF press release here

Various predictions for what 2008 might bring from around the cleantech blogosphere.

The Guardian newspaper presented a worthy list of 50 people who could save the planet. Names from the VC and entrepreneurial worlds include Elon Musk, Craig Venter, Renewable Capital's Bob Hertzberg, and KPCB's Al Gore. Not forgetting, of course, Leonardo DiCaprio.

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