Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Clean Sweep 32

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

3i Infrastructure, a specialist investment vehicle backed by the private equity giant, has confirmed a possible takeover bid for UK renewables group Novera Energy. 3i is considering a 90p/share offer for the listed group, valuing it at £112m.
Novera is developing a portfolio of windfarms, landfill gas generators waste gasification facilities and sludge treatment plants across the UK. The buyout bid from a relatively risk-averse infrastructure specialist is further evidence of the mainstreaming of such technologies - even if its financial attractions are helped by regulatory requirements and subsidies in some areas.

Israeli PV developer Pythagoras Solar has secured a $10m first round from Israel Cleantech Ventures, Pitango Venture Capital and Evergreen Venture Partners. The company, launched out of local tech incubator Precede Technologies, claims to be developing the next generation of PV panels. Details remain sketchy, but the company has said it is using 'stationary low concentration geometry' (the name would suggest a geometric focus, I suppose) and is combining 'software models, optic and system design, semiconductor processes, materials science and mass manufacturing techniques'.

Still in solar, US utility-scale developer Ausra secured $30m venture debt and is negotiating an add-on round of $15m from its existing investors. Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers supplied a $43m second round last September.
California-based Ausra opened the US's first manufacturing plant for solar thermal panels in December, and plans to build the country's largest (175MW) solar thermal installation. The company also announced plans to float by 2010.

The slightly hyped Tesla Motors closed a $40m bridge financing round led by Valor Equity Partners and chairman Elon Musk, and announced plans for a $75-100m fifth round later this year. Silicon Valley's favourite electric car developer has moved into production of its first model, the sporty Roadster, and is prepping its next (Earth2Tech is running a sweepstake on the name for this new sedan - I've suggested the Prestige.)
Less glamorous rival Miles Electric Vehicles meanwhile secured $15m from Angeleno Group, an LA-based energy specialist investor. The California company is developing its first highway-speed model.
And Britain's own Lotus Engineering (OK, it's owned by Malaysia's Proton, but it's still based in Norfolk) has launched a new R&D group focused on electric and hybrid vehicles. Lotus is already working with ZAP, another Californian electric car developer.

And staying in California, a start-up called Climos has reportedly secured $4m from as-yet-unidentified investors. Climos intends to help cut atmospheric carbon dioxide by pumping iron into the ocean to stimulate growth of CO2-absorbing plankton, for which it hopes to claim tradable carbon credits.
It's a controversial idea, to say the least - this New Scientist feature from last December weighed the pros and cons and came down on the sceptical side. The rival company featured in that article, Planktos, abandoned its field tests earlier this month, blaming a "highly effective disinformation campaign waged by anti-offset crusaders" for its failure to raise funds.

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