Friday, 5 June 2009

Clean Sweep 63

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

London-based waste-to-energy firm Advanced Plasma Power has raised $10m from US investor Leveraged Green Energy.
APP was founded in 2005 to commercialise the Gasplasma incinerator process, developed by plasma arc tech group Tetronics, which converts waste into syngas and a vitrified solid. The firm currently has a pilot plant in Swindon and plans international expansion.
LGE, which takes a 10% stake in APP, focuses on investments in CEE and Canada and will help the firm expand in those territories.

Private investor network Hotbed has invested £3.3m in UK windfarm developer Burcote Wind, part of Burcote Environmental Services. The investment should secure the development of up to six onshore sites.

Cleantech stalwart Khosla Ventures and life science specialist Burrill & Co have invested an undisclosed sum in cellulosic biofuel start-up HCL CleanTech.
The Israeli firm is commercialising a proprietary technique of using concentrated hydrochloric acid (hence the name) to hydrolyse biomass, forming fermentable sugars which can be refined into various biofuels and chemicals. The tech is based on a proven conversion process developed in wartime Germany.
The new funding will be used for R&D and building a pilot plant in the US.

Solar tech firm Tigo Energy has raised a $10m second round, led by ICV and including all existing investors.
The Californian firm uses a mix of electronic and software technologies to optimise the output from commercial-scale arrays of PV modules, increasing power by up to 20%.

In a promising move for concentrating solar, infrastructure investor Starwood Energy Group Global announced its backing for what it claims will be the world's largest dispatchable solar plant in Arizona. Utility group Arizona Public Service signed up to buy power from the 290MW plant, which will be built by Lockheed Martin. The plant will include over 3000 parabolic troughs over 1880 acres, and is scheduled for completion in 2013.

Lightweight fuel cell developer UltraCell raised $3.8m from existing investors, led by BASF Venture Capital.
The California firm's XX25 methanol-powered cell is the first to be authorised by the US military for portable devices, and can also be used in remote monitoring and communications equipment.

In another energy storage investment, ultracapacitor developer EnerG2 secured an extra $2.5m equity and options. The Seattle firm, which is targeting the hybrid vehicle and industrial markets, raised $8.5m in October.

LED lighting start-up Digital Lumens has raised a $6.3m first round - details are scarce, but investors are believed to include local VCs Flybridge Capital Partners and Stata Venture Partners.
The Massachusetts firm says it is 'creating lighting systems that deliver 100% of the light for 10% of the energy cost'.

Also in lighting, Israeli ballast manufacturer Metrolight raised a $3m fourth round from Virgin Green Funds, Gemini Israel Funds and Israel Cleantech Ventures. US rival Fulham raised $10m last month.

Stealthy carbon management firm Hara unveiled its service and a $6m round from tech VC giant KPCB. The Silicon Valley firm provides environmental and energy management systems on a software-as-a-service basis (a very friendly business model for cashflow-hungry investors).

Smart grid spin-out OutSmart Power Systems meanwhile raised $2m seed funding from Bainco, angel investor Clean Energy Venture Group and parent Manifold Products. The Massachusetts firm provides tech which uses buildings' electrical wiring as a communications network for smart grid applications.

Fund news
Anglo-French renewables investor Platina Partners has launched a new asset management subsidiary, Engineering Renewables, to manage the development and operations of its investment projects. The new company merges Platina's UK-based portfolio company Your Energy with the project management arm of consultancy BVG Associates. Platina currently has a project portfolio of some 1000MW in the UK and southern Europe.

Low-carbon fund-of-funds manager Osmosis Capital is reportedly raising Euro200m for its first fund. More from Environmental Finance.

Further reading
Plenty to chew on in the Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2009 Report from New Energy Finance and the UN Environment Programme.
The report surveys the sources and destinations of the $155bn invested in 2008. Wind took the largest slice ($51.8bn) , followed by solar ($33.5bn) and biomass ($16.9bn).
For the first time, investment in new power generaton from renewable sources ($140bn) topped that for fossil-fuel sources ($110bn). However, renewables still account for only 6.2% of total global capacity.
Key points re VC and private equity:
• Private equity, to some extent, took up the slack from the public markets, where sharp falls in share prices made it hard for companies to raise fresh capital.
• Venture capital and private equity funds invested $19.3 billion in renewable energy and energy efficiency companies in 2008, an increase of 43% compared with 2007.
• 2008 was a volatile year during which investment rose to an all-time high and then, as the year drew to a close, entered into a steep decline that is lasting well into 2009.
Also from NEF, a collection of presentations and research from March's NEF Summit (pdf 1.7mb).

Stephen Tindale of the rather useful Climate Answers offers some suggestions on how the UK could meet the EU renewables 2020 target. Some interesting points on regulatory risk and ROCs vs FIT.

The latest Economist Technology Quarterly has a couple of solid pieces on the state of the art in solar thermal and smart grid tech.

A new US lobby group, Clean Economy Network, aims 'to bring the voices of clean business leaders to policymakers'. Can or should there be a UK/European equivalent?

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