Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Clean Sweep 35

A round-up of recent news in clean technology and cleantech investment.
Plenty of new deals to catch up on since last time -

Kent-based cleantech specialist Foresight has announced three new investments, worth a total £14m. All three companies, I'm proud to say, are based in Yorkshire.
Biomass fuels company Land Energy secured £5m to help roll out its services nationwide. The group aims to build a network of plants to produce wood pellets from local sources, for burning in local on-site furnaces and CHP installations. The group has offices in central London and rural North Yorkshire, where it has encountered local opposition to its plans for a pilot plant on the old Wombleton airfield.
Waste-to-energy business AWP Environmental (trading as BCB Environmental Management) meanwhile raised £6m for its proposed £18m, 9MW advanced gasification plant in Tockwith, west of York. BCB says it has £12m debt arranged for once they get planning consent.
Finally, plastics recycling group Lynwood raised £3m. Based barely a mile from where I'm sat in Halifax, Lynwood recycles plastics waste into new products including outdoor furniture and the 'invincible bucket'. The fundraising will help the group double capacity and expand nationally.

Renewables consultancy Eco2 and UEA tech transfer company Carbon Connections have launched a £6m fundraising for the currently stealthy Tidal Energy Limited. Eco2 has invested an initial £150k and says it is committed to £1m of the targeted round.
Tidal Energy is developing a free-standing tidal energy device called the Deltastream - Carbon Connections has a background PDF on the project.

Domestic energy monitoring firm Onzo has raised £2m from utility Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and asset manager Sigma Capital Group. The London-based firm produces networked displays which continually monitor and report on household energy use, helping householders to identify and fix inefficiencies and thus save money and emissions.
As well as its £1m equity investment, SSE has placed orders worth £7m; and has secured exclusive rights for Onzo's products and services in the UK and Ireland. Onzo's displays are due for launch this summer.
In the same market over the pond, Colorado-based Tendril Networks has just announced a $12m second round led by RRE Ventures. Tendril released a beta version of its own domestic energy-monitoring system earlier this year.

German fuel cell group Clean Mobile has raised a Euro3.3m first round led by local VC Earlybird Venture Capital and the US's Silicon Valley Technology Group. Seed investor High-Tech Gründerfonds also joined in.
Munich-based Clean Mobile produces drive systems based on methanol cells for light transport such electric bicycles and rickshaws.

Still in Germany, biofuel group Schmack Biogas has raised Euro7.1m in a new share issue, with Swiss-Canadian cleantech specialist Emerald Ventures taking the lot. Which might seem a little odd, given that Emerald, which backed Schmack in 2004 before its IPO, sold its stake in Schmack just over a year ago - but the group's share price has dropped around 80% since then, and is now around a third of the float price. Emerald clearly remain confident in Schmack's future.

In another Israeli water treatment deal, AqWise raised $3.6m from investors including AHMSA Steel Israel, Elron Electronic Industries and Israel Cleantech Ventures. AqWise is commercialising a microbial treatment to remove contaminants from wastewater.

In the US, biggest deal of the past few weeks is Range Fuels scooping a reported $130m (they're just saying 'greater than $100m') second round. Passport Capital led the round, alongside BlueMountain, Khosla Ventures, Leaf Clean Energy Company, and PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (with participation by the mighty CalPERS fund). The round follows a $76m government grant in November.
The money goes towards Range Fuels' pilot cellulosic ethanol plant in Georgia. The firm's tipped to be the first to market with cellulosic biofuel - the tech promises to have far fewer environmental drawbacks than the relatively well-established corn-based ethanol. Rival Mascoma raised a $50m third round last month.

There's another handful of solar deals. Thin-film CIGS pioneer Nanosolar secured $50m corporate funding from French utility EDF Energies Nouvelles. EDF secures a supply of the California firm's panels from next year.
High-efficiency silicon PV producer 1366 Technologies raised a $12.4m first round led by North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners. Rather than doing anything radically new, the MIT spin-out has developed a new cell architecture which improves silicon efficiency while exploiting low-cost fabrication methods, potentially bringing energy costs down to 10c/KW by 2012.
Canadian supplier 6N Silicon has raised a $20m second round from Good Energies and existing investors Yaletown and Ventures West. The firm aims to cut the cost of silicon PV through its proprietary process for producing the extremely pure silicon demanded by PV manufacturers from cheap metallurgical-grade feedstock.
And Texan building supplier Standard Renewable Energy raised a $7m second round led by Quercus Trust. The firm aims to build a natinal dealership chain of solar installers.

Renewable chemicals group Elevance rasied a $40m first round led by TPG Growth and TPG Biotechnology Partners. A joint venture between agrichemicals giant Cargill and CalTech tech transfer group Materia, Elevance uses a olefin metathesis process (developed by CalTech's Nobel laureate Robert Grubbs) to produce a range of speciality chemicals from vegetable oils rather than from petrochemicals.

And 'smart grid' developer Gridpoint has raised $15m follow-on funding from Quercus Trust. The Washington DC business has developed an IT-based platform to help electric suppliers manage varying supply and demand. It previously announced its $49m fourth round in October last year.

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