Friday, 11 January 2008

Clean Sweep 28

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

Newcastle-based recycling group Alternative Waste Solutions has secured £2m growth funding. Early-stage tech specialist E-Synergy led the round with £1.4m from its Sustainable Technology Fund. The balance came from NorthStar Equity Investors with £400k, and a private investor.
AWS was formed in 2000 to recycle plastics waste collected by other bodies.
The funding goes towards a £14m expansion of the firm's bottle processing plant in Lincolnshire.

The £25m AIM-listed Ludgate Environmental Fund has announced that it is over 20% invested, following two rapid investments in Dutch emissions trading company STX Services. Ludgate invested Euro192,000 just before Christmas, and a further Euro600,000 this week. STX spun off from its parent brokerage, Wallich & Matthes Holdings, in May last year.

Finnish semiconductor group Braggone has received a 'multi-million dollar' investment from state funding agency TEKES. Braggone recently announced a new product line for solar cell manufacturers, based on a polymer layer which can minimise optical loss and reduce per-watt production costs in both crystalline silicon and thin-film cells.

Across the pond, waste-to-energy group EnerTech Environmental raised a $42m second round led by Citi’s Sustainable Development Investments unit and Masdar Clean Tech Fund.
The SlurryCarb process developed by the Atlanta-based firm converts sewage and other high-moisture wastes into a fuel suitable for cement kilns, pulverised coal boilers and gasifiers.

Cellulosic biofuels producer BlueFire Ethanol secured $15.5m development funding from Quercus Trust. The Californian firm is developing facilities to produce ethanol from green, wood and municipal waste, thus avoiding many of the problems associated with corn-based ethanol production. BlueFire also received a $40m grant from the Department of Energy in October to fund its first, 17Mgal/a cellulosic ethanol plant at a landfill site in southern California.

Policy news
The UK's new energy bill introduces some necessary measures for rolling out clean energy generation. The bill allows the Renewables Obligation, the mechanism requiring energy suppliers to source a fraction of their energy from renewable sources, to be extended emerging tech such as offshore wind, wave and tidal, as well as supporting microgeneration. Electricity regulator Ofgem is meanwhile given the power to manage the infrastructure connecting offshore generators to the onshore network.
The bill also creates a regulatory framework for private sector investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects - the government has previously announced a competition for the first commercial-scale CCS project.
For legislation wonks, the full energy bill is available as 1Mb PDF here.
The bill was accompanied by the release of the Nuclear White Paper, the government's response to the recent consultations. Energy secretary John Hutton talks of nuclear providing "clean, secure and affordable energy" - sadly, none of those three adjectives are entirely justified. Nuclear seems, at best, to be a stopgap measure with extremely long-term costs.
Reactions from industry and environmental groups were much as expected.

Fund news
US heavyweight VantagePoint Venture Partners is preparing to raise up to $400m for its second cleantech fund. The VC's existing portfolio includes such high-profile firms as Tesla Motors, Miasole and Project Better Place. Although focused on North America, VantagePoint also looks to Europe, with investments in leading UK photovoltaic supplier SolarCentury and Swedish waste-to-energy firm Chemrec.
Houston-based Yellowstone Capital meanwhile announced a $50m target for its second alternative and renewable energy venture fund. Current investments include CPV firm SolFocus and thin-film developer Heliovolt.

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