Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Clean Sweep 49

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

Scotland's Pelamis Wave Power has raised a £5m round from existing shareholders including Emerald Technology Ventures, Statoilhydro Venture, BlackRock, Atmos and Sustainable Performance Group. The Scottish Venture Fund, a government-backed co-investment fund, contributed £2m.
The money goes towards the firm's continuing R&D programme, as well as developing its manufacturing capabilities at a new factory in Leith. Pelamis's wave energy converter uses an articulated string of cylinders to extract electricity from the movement of the waves, via hydraulic motors. The firm hit the headlines in September when it launched its first full-scale wave farm off Portugal.

Dutch solar installer SolarTotal has raised an undisclosed investment from SET Venture Partners, the Euro50m cleantech fund backed by Chrysalix Energy and Robeco Institutional Asset Management. SolarTotal sells and installs PV systems for residential and commercial customers across much of western Europe, and is eyeing opportunities in other territories.

In the US, silicon PV developer CaliSolar raised a $51.9m second round from Hudson Clean Energy Partners, Advanced Technology Ventures and Globespan, plus a further $50m in convertible notes.
The money goes towards the firm's first commercial plant. CaliSolar makes solar cells made from refined metallurgical silicon, which is significantly cheaper than the high-grade crystalline silicon used by the semiconductor industry and conventional PV.
The price of high-grade silicon is forecast to fall dramatically from recent highs, as new manufacturing capacity comes on line, however - presumably CaliSolar's investors calculate that its tech still has enough of a price advantage.

Emissions management business Planet Metrics has closed a $2.3m first round. Cleantech VC heavyweight Draper Fisher Jurvetson invested alongside angel investors.
The California-based firm provides what it calls 'streamlined carbon modeling and visualization software' for businesses looking to analyse and reduce their emissions. Ina flagship project, Planet Metrics will be analysing the emissions of the huge International CES consumer electronics tradeshow in January.

DFJ also backed the first round for D.Light Design, a solar lighting spin-out from Stanford University. In a fairly rare deal in cleantech for the developing world, D.Light produces solar-charged LED lamps which it hopes will replace dangerous and inefficient kerosene lamps in homes across Africa and Asia.
The team of MBAs behind the company first won support from DFJ through the firm's Venture Challenge programme. The firm now has operations in China and India.

Colorado State University spin-out Solix Biofuels meanwhile raised a $10.5m first round from I2BF Venture Capital and others (including Southern Ute Alternative Energy, which manages clean power investments for the eponymous Indian tribe).
The algal biofuel firm, which has its roots in a Department of Energy programme from the 1970s, is developing a pilot plant on Southern Ute reservation land to produce algal biofuels and chemical precursors from photobioreactors.

Miles Electric Vehicles has reportedly raised $13m in a planned $40m second round. Angeleno Group, who backed the California firm's first round in January, is among those committed.
Miles specialises in 'normal'-looking electric cars and small trucks. See Earth2Tech for more.

Further reading
If you've been following the news carefully, you might have noticed that the US had some sort of election recently. Rob Day on Cleantech Investing ponders what it means for US cleantech venture capital; Ron Pernick of Clean Edge urges clean energy bonds; Jesse Jenkins takes a broader view of energy policy on; and the Guardian takes an international perspective.

Less cheery news in the UK, as BP shelves the bulk of its plans for wind farms and other renewable schemes at home (as well as in China, India and Turkey). The Guardian bears the bad news:
The decision is a major blow to the prime minister, Gordon Brown, who has promised to sweep away all impediments to ensure Britain is at the forefront of the green energy revolution. BP and Shell - which has also pulled out of renewables in Britain - are heavily influential among investors.
BP has advertised its green credentials widely in the UK and has a representative on the ruling board of the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA). But it said difficulty in getting planning permission and lower economies of scale made the UK wind sector far less attractive than that of the US.

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