Friday, 5 December 2008

Clean Sweep 51

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

UK fuel cell developer Acal Energy has raised a £3.3m round from state-backed Carbon Trust Investments, Belgian chemicals group Solvay and another un-named investor.
Cheshire-based Acal is developing small (<1kW) PEM fuel cells for domestic and transport applications, based on a proprietary 'liquid cathode' technology which replaces the standard platinum cathode. Founded in 2004, the company previously received incubator support from the Carbon Trust.
The Carbon Trust this week also announced a partnership with the CBI 'to maximise the opportunities that the move to a low carbon economy will create [for UK companies]'.

London-based Environmental Technologies Fund has led a $20m third round in Swedish biorefinery business Chemrec. Existing investors Vantage Point Venture Partners and Volvo Technology Transfer also joined in the round.
Chemrec claims to be the world leader in black liquor gasification. Rather than something you might experience after too much porter, that's a way of converting liquid biomass from pulp and paper mills into synthesis gas for biofuel production. The tech can potentially replace around two per cent of global fuel demand, according to Chemrec. The firm currently operates two plants, and is working with pulp and paper firms in Sweden and the US to develop second-gen plants on an industrial scale.

French recycling group Recupyl has raised a Euro14.5m development round from a syndicate including original investor Aloe Private Equity and new investor AGF Private Equity.
The firm provides a range of patent-protected waste treatment technologies based on hydrometallurgy, and specialises in recovering materials from electric batteries. Recupyl is also working with industrial partners on recycling fuel cells, electric and hybrid vehicle batteries, and solar panels.

US rechargeable battery developer Infinite Power Solutions closed a $13m second round led by existing investors DE Shaw Ventures and Polaris Venture Partners. A new, unnamed 'strategic investor' also joined the round.
The funding helps the Colorado company move its thin-film 'Thinergy' batteries into mass production. IPS says the cells are particularly suitable for storing energy harvested from ambient environments such as radio frequency, magnetic, solar, heat, and vibration.

A bunch of interesting US deals from November which I missed in the last round-up -
Energy tech group Danotek Motion Technologies raised $14.5mm from CMEA Ventures, StatoilHydro Ventures, and GE Energy Financial Services.
The Michigan company produces advanced permanent magnet generators and converters for applications including wind turbines and electric and hybrid vehicles.
Cellulosic ethanol group Qteros (formerly known as SunEthanol) raised a $25m second round led by Venrock and Battery Ventures. New investors include BP and Soros Fund. The firm's tech depends on what it calls the 'Q microbe', aka Clostridium phytofermentans, which eliminates the need for a separate enzymatic breakdown stage when converting biomass into fuel. The new funding helps Qteros scale up and move towards commercial production.
Sterling engine developer ReGen Power Systems has secured a $5m round from 21Ventures and the prolific Quercus Trust. The Stamford firm is working on low-temperature Stirling engines to produce up to 2MW of electricity from waste heat and steam at industrial plants. The new money will fund the production of two prototype engines, of 10KW and 500KW.

Singapore-based renewables project developer Orient Green Power has raised $55m from Olympus Capital Holdings Asia, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Indian renewables project management group Shriram EPC. Orient is developing a string of biomass, biogas and wind installations in India, with a target of 500MW capacity within five years. The company is also looking to make money by selling credits under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism.
Indian solar project developer Azure Power recently raised an undisclosed first round from Helion Venture Partners and Foundation Capital.

Fund news
Hertfordshire-based TTP Ventures has secured £20m government funding for its new £30m Enterprise Capital Fund (ECF). The fund will target cleantech SMEs, as well as early-stage IT opportunities.

An ambitious new entrant in the environmentally-focused investment market - Earth Capital Partners (no web presence yet, as far as I can find). The firm is headed by former Man Group CEO Stanley Fink (who takes the non-exec chair), and is aiming to raise $5bn from institutions and individuals within five years. Rufus Warner, formerly with Close Investments, is chief exec.
ECP is planning on launching at least six targeted funds: Environmental Opportunities Fund; Environmental Infrastructure Fund; Sector Funds; Environmental Markets Fund; Agriculture Fund; and Cleantech VC Fund. More as we hear it.

Further reading
Npower Renewables has secured government approval for its Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm, set to be the world's second largest.
The 250-turbine installation, eight miles off Conwy, Wales, will add 750MW capacity to the UK's renewables armoury. Some 4.5GW of offshore projects currently have planning approval.

Todd Woody of Green Wombat has an interesting article on the effects of the credit crunch on the US solar industry.

Cleantech Group's traditional predictions for the coming year, including a shake-out of thin-film solar, and a doubling of the failure rate for cleantech start-ups.

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