Friday, 31 October 2008

Clean Sweep 48

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

Waste treatment firm Morgan Everett has raised £1.45 million growth funding. The round includes £750,000 from PUK Ventures, the venture capital arm of Partnerships UK; the Sustainable Technology Fund, which previously joined in a £1.25 million round in July 2007; and private investors.
The new funding allows the Hampshire-based firm to increase production of its Autobin waste destruction system. This uses thermal pyrolysis to convert most forms of municipal waste into inert ash at source. The firm says that energy recovery may be possible in some applications.

Electricity demand management developer RLtec (also known as Responsive Load) secured a £550,000 round, and the promise of a further £300,000 from keystone investor Low Carbon Accelerator if it hits milestone targets.
LCA contributed £300,000 in the current round, with the remainder from a private investor. LCA also converted a £900,000 loan announced in December 2007 into shares, giving it a 77% stake of the London-based company.
RLtec produces demand-control systems for domestic appliances, and works with both appliance manufacturers and electric grid operators.

Terra Firma Capital Partners is preparing to invest £1.2bn in UK wind farms, according to reports. The buyout house aims to build some 800MW of onshore capacity, via its Infinis renewables business. Infinis was created in 2006 when Terra Firma sold on the core business of Waste Recycling Group but retained its waste-to-energy business as a cornerstone for further renewables investment.

Dutch biofuel-to-pharma R&D group Avantium Technologies has raised a Euro18m round led by biomedical specialist Aescap Ventures. Previous investors Capricorn Cleantech Fund, ING Corporate Investments and Navitas Capital also joined the round.
A spin-out from oil group Shell, Amsterdam-based Avantium uses a high-throughput approach to develop advanced biofuels and bioplastics. It also has a pharmaceutical research programme aimed at improving the performance of existing drugs by crystallisation, hence Aescap's interest.

Meanwhile in the US, Californian biobutanol developer Cobalt Biofuels raised a $25m third round led by LSP and Pinnacle Ventures. The funding goes towards a pilot production plant.

A few more solar deals, as ever. CPV developer Soliant Energy took a $25m round from investors including Convexa Capital, GE Energy and founding investor Rockport Capital Partners. The California company, founded in 2005 by a team from Nasa's JPL, produces rooftop solar concentrator panels with triple-junction silicon cells.
Innovalight, a California firm making PV cells with its proprietary 'silicon ink', raised a $5m follow-on package from Leader Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. The firm raised $28m a year ago.
And Maryland-based solar installer Standard Solar took a $8.5m second round from Truecast Capital.

Lighting efficiency firm Adura Technologies raised a $5m first round from Vantagepoint Venture Partners and Claremont Creek Ventures. The San Francisco firm provides turnkey energy management systems combining lighting control hardware and software, which it says can cut lighting bills (and emissions) by around half.

And Canada's NxtGen Emissions Controls has closed a US$15.4m second round led by Altira Group. NxtGen has miniaturised syngas technology used in petroleum refineries for use in diesel vehicle engines. The company aims to sell its emissions reduction systems to OEMs worldwide.

Further reading
New Energy Finance presents Q3 investment figures (PDF), showing a fall in public and private investment in cleantech - $4.4bn total, down from the record $5.8bn in Q2. Early-stage VC remains buoyant, however, with the biggest fall in the public markets. Hardly unexpected, really.
Across the water, VCs at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum in Seattle reckon that cleantech may remain a bright spot in the economic landscape. As Greentech Media reports, everyone's expecting a short-term slowdown but the long-term prospects look good.

The Carbon Trust has announced an agreement with five international energy companies to kickstart the Offshore Wind Accelerator programme. The £30m, five-year initiative aims to cut the cost of offshore wind energy by 10 per cent or more through a combination of wind farm cost reductions and performance improvements.

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