Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Clean Sweep 59

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

Deals
AIM-listed cleantech specialist Low Carbon Accelerator has announced follow-on investments in two of its portfolio companies. Scotland's Proven Energy, a producer of small (2.5-15KW) wind turbines, secures an extra £500,000 in two tranches, giving LCA a 49.83% stake in the company. LCA last invested £700,000 in Proven in December 08.
And electricity demand management developer RLtec (aka Responsive Load) hit its performance targets and banked the extra £300,000 from its last round in October. LCA now has a 82.6% stake in RLtec.
LCA's latest annual report has some interesting comment on where they see investment opportunities.

Singapore-based tidal turbine developer Atlantic Resources Corporation has raised a $14m round led by Norwegian renewables group Statkraft.
Atlantis has developed a range of undersea turbines for both shallow and deep water installation, and counts Morgan Stanley among its backers.
Atlantis and Statkraft also announced they would collaborate on new marine energy projects in the Pentland Firth, Scotland. Up to 700MW of licences are currently up for grabs.
Statkraft has also taken a 50% stake in StatoilHydro's proposed 315MW wind farm off the Norfolk coast. Construction is due to start this summer.

Anglo-French renewables investor Platina Partners has invested Euro134m in three Spanish solar plants run by portfolio company Anemoi Renewables. The plants at Cantillana, El Coronil and Ocana have a total output of 19.7MW. The new funding comes from Platina's Mistral Energy II renewables fund.

Across the pond, US VCs picked up the pace after a few slow months.
Electric car developer Fisker Automotive took the biggest round, with $85m from Euro-US consortium Eco-Drive (Capital) Partners and existing investor KPCB. The California firm last announced a $65m third round led by a Qatari consortium in September, and is preparing to launch its sporty plug-in hybrid Karma later this year.

Lilliputian Systems, a developer of miniature fuel cells for consumer electronics, raised $28m. Stata Venture Partners, Altira Group and Argonaut Private Equity joined existing investors including KPCB, Atlas Venture and Rockport Capital.
Lilliputian was launched by former MIT researchers in 2002, and is currently testing prototypes of its 'Silicon Power Cells'. The cells include a chip-based generator powered by fuel cartridges, and promise to deliver 20-40 times the energy of Li-ion batteries for the same weight.

Smart grid start-up EnergyHub closed a first round with .406 Ventures and Physic Ventures. Terms were not disclosed.
New York-based EnergyHub is developing a range of monitors and software tools to help households manage their energy use - an attractive area for VCs, with rivals including UK-based Onzo and GEO. New funds go towards product development and starting pilot programmes with utilities.
In a closely related field, Boston-based Ember raised an extra $8m from existing investors including Polaris, DFJ and Stata Venture Partners. The firm, which also has a development centre in the UK, provides Zigbee standard wireless networking systems which allow smart meters and appliances to talk to each other.

Biochemicals group OPX Biotechnologies raised a $17.5m round led by Braemar. The Colorado firm is engineering microbes to produce fuels and petrochemical replacements, using what it calls a Efficiency Directed Genome Engineering platform.

Elsewhere, micro-turbine manufacturer Southwest Windpower closed a $10m round from GE and existing investors; tech group Sarnoff (formerly RCA Labs) spun off a new LED tech business, Lightscape Materials, with $3m start-up funding from Wisepower and Foosund HDS; and Nasdaq-listed oil-based biofuels producer New Generation Biofuels Holdings closed a $3.17m private placement, reflecting a lack of appetite on the public market.


Fund news
Curzon Park Capital is a new London-based cleantech VC backed by Edmund and Danny Truell, the founders of Duke Street Capital.
The new firm was founded after the brothers bought out a £20m fund previously managed by E-Synergy. Investors include Dutch asset manager Robeco.
Edmond Truell acts as chairman of the new firm, with former E-Synergy managers C├ędriane de Boucaud and Sam Richardson continuing as directors.

Google, the fairly well-known search engine group, has officially launched its new VC wing, the imaginatively titled Google Ventures. The new operation aims to invest $100m in a year, in start-ups in a range of tech areas including cleantech, and is understood to have already made an undisclosed investment in smart grid developer Silver Spring Networks.

Not a VC fund, but a potentially interesting alternative - Greendaq is a new US-based private exchange for cleantech companies and commodities. The Aruba-based online exchange aims to help growing cleantech companies to both raise money and achieve liquidity, and serve investors who may be wary of direct investment in private start-ups. The first company to list is UK jatropha biofuels producer Carbon Credited Farming.


Further reading
First quarter VC figures are now in, with totals down but not out.
Greentech Media analysts counted 59 deals worth at least $836.1m (undisclosed deals are likely to take the total over $1bn). That's down on last year, but close to 2007 figures.
The Cleantech Group meanwhile counted 82 deals and $1bn, down 41% on the previous quarter and almost half on 2008Q1.

The UK is in for a green budget come 22 April, according to the Independent:
In an exclusive interview with The Independent, the Prime Minister trailed measures to make Britain "a world leader" in producing and exporting electric cars, hybrid petrol-electric vehicles and lighter cars using less petrol. Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, will announce in his Budget that trials for electric cars in two or three cities will begin next year. Councils will be invited to bid to become Britain's first "green cities". The Government will open talks with power companies to ensure the vehicles can have their batteries recharged at a national network of power points at the roadside.
Mr Darling will also set a target of creating 400,000 jobs in "green industries" over the next five years.

More as we hear it.

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