Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Clean Sweep 54

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

Plastics recycling company 2K Manufacturing has secured a £5m funding package backed by cleantech specialist Foresight. The London-based firm turns waste plastics into plywood-substitute boards for the construction industry, using a patent-protected moulding technology. The new funding goes towards new recycling facilities at a number of sites.

Danish PV developer PhotoSolar has raised DKr16m (£2m) led by state-backed Vækstfonden. The Danish Technological Institute, from which the firm spun out in 2003, contributed DKr4m.
PhotoSolar is developing materials for glass building facades, which use a micro-structured version of a venetian blind to shade the building's interior without obstructing the view. The firm's PowerShade technology combines this shading with amorphous silicon photovoltaic cells, which generate electricity while reducing the need for cooling.

German low-energy electronics company Novaled closed a Euro8.5m third round from existing investors, including eCAPITAL, TechnoStart, KfW and TUDAG from Germany, and France's Credit Agricole Private Equity, TechFund and CDC Innovation. Funding goes towards commercialisation of the firm's organic LED technology in the lighting and display markets. Novaled is also developing its tech for organic PV applications.

Swiss battery developer ReVolt Technology has raised an extra Euro10m in an extended second round, corporate investor RWE Innogy joining previous backers NorthZone Ventures, Sintef, Sofinnova, TVM Capital, Verdane Capital and Viking Venture.
A spin-off from Norwegian research institute Sintef, ReVolt is developing high-efficiency rechargeable zinc-air batteries for consumer and industrial applications. The company had previously announced the close of its second round in June 2007.

Norwegian electric car maker Think Global has received a NKr40m (£4m) bridging loan from existing investors after running into severe problems with its working capital. The company halted production last month and laid off most of its workforce, with the CEO claiming "urgent financial distress" and seeking NKr100-200m support.
The bulk of the loan came from Ener1 Group, the majority investor in Li-ion battery producer Ener1 which has supply deal with Think.

Still in batteries, US lithium-ion developer Boston-Power raised a $55m fourth round led by Foundation Asset Management. Existing investors Oak Investment Partners, Venrock, GGV Capital and Gabriel Venture Partners also returned to the table. Boston is ramping up production of its Sonata laptop batteries through a partnership with PC manufactuer HP, and is also developing products for electric vehicle applications.

Fallbrook Technologies, a producer of continuous transmissions for electric vehicles and other applications, raised $25.4m in its first VC round. The investment was led by cleantech specialist NGEN Partners and Robeco.
Fallbrook's wind energy spin-out Viryd landed $2.1m venture backing just over a year ago.

Waste gasification tech group Ze-gen has raised a $20m second round led by Oman-based Omaz Zawawi Establishment. Existing investors including FlagshipVentures, VantagePoint Venture Partners, and Massachusetts Technology Development Corporation also joined in, following its $4.5m first round in July 2007.
Massachusetts-based Ze-gen converts wood debris and other solid waste into a synthetic gas mix of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, basically by injecting the waste into a molten bath of scrap metal.

Water purification business Waterhealth International announced it had raised $10m from Dow Venture Capital and Sail Venture Partners, as part of an ongoing fourth round with a $20m target. The California company provides UV water purification systems for developing countries, and offers them to the poorest communities on a hire-purchase style contract.

Secretive cleantech specialist Quercus Trust and 21 Ventures have invested £500k seed money in each of two Texan firms: battery tech firm Graphene Energy, which is developing 'ultracapacitors' for high power density applications; and water purification tech developer Advanced Hydro. Both firms have the same chairman and acting CEO (and, by the look of it, the same web designer).

Fund news
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is reopening its $500 million Green Growth, according to peHUB. The VC giant is also reopening its recent generalist KPCB XIII fund, and seeking annex funds for older funds, in a bid to raise the necessary cash to see its portfolio companies through the recession. Unusually, the Green Growth fund, launched last May is reportedly being opened to new investors as well as existing backers.

Further reading
New Energy Finance presents its end-of-year stats for 2008 - total global investment in clean energy topped $150bn for the first time, but growth was drastically reduced from previous years. As in many other areas, it was a year of two halves, with a relatively strong first half but 'much weaker' second half. 2009 will 'get off to a subdued start', they reckon.
Venture capital and private equity investment did perform well, however, taking up some of the slack in the public markets. New investment totalled $13bn, up from $9.8bn in 2007.
For more details, see the NEF press release (28kb pdf).

The Guardian reports on grumbles from the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi about the UK's failure to join the new German-led International Agency for Renewable Energies.
At the same bash, local green energy group Masdar hinted that it might drop out of the planned 1GW London Array windfarm. Reuters has the story. (Edit: Environmental Finance has a follow-up with a Masdar spokesman insisting it “remains 100% committed to the London Array”.)

Interesting article in New Scientist on carbon-scrubbing technology, including some companies looking for VC.

The Carbon Trust's Biomass Heat Accelerator programme has produced a new practical guide to biomass heating.

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