Friday, 3 July 2009

Clean Sweep 66

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

Next-gen solar cell developer QuantaSol has closed a funding round at just under £2m from existing investors Low Carbon Accelerator and Imperial Innovations. LCA is investing £1.175m in two rounds, and also converting an existing £400k loan into equity.
QuantaSol, a spin-out from Imperial College London, also announced that it has achieved a record efficiency of 28.3% for its single-junctioned gallium-arsenide PV cell. The firm's cells, which it believes are the most efficient single junction cells ever manufactured, are intended for use in concentrating PV systems - the record was set with incident light equivalent to 500 cells. QuantaCell is now preparing to build multi-junction cells of potentially even higher efficiency.

Tyre recycler Crumb Rubber has secured £4m from Foresight Group, a very active investor in waste management businesses.
Based in Plymouth, Crumb converts old tyres into fine rubber powders with a range of uses including replica slate tiles.

Bringing cleantech to cleaning, Leeds University spin-out Xeros raised £920k from investors led by Enterprise Ventures. The firm is commercialising a laundry process using polymer beads which it says can cut water use by 90%. Xeros has already partnered with US group GreenEarth Cleaning to sell its product in North America.

French renewables developer Neoen has raised Euro20m from Crédit Agricole Private Equity's Capenergie fund and the Louis Dreyfus group. Paris-based Neoen is a majority-owned subsidiary of the Direct Energie group, and operates solar, wind and biomass projects.

Paris-based climate change intelligence firm Climpact raised Euro4m from NextStage and existing investor Elaia Partners. A spin-out from Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, Climpact provides business and climate data to help clients manage weather-related risks.

Californian solar installer SPG Solar closed a $13m round led by Global Environment Fund and Robeco. The new funds support national and international growth and materials sourcing.

And Colorado-based algal start-up Solix Biofuels closed its first round at $16.8m. Shanghai Alliance Investment joined a suite of US VCs in the round, which had previously been announced at $10.5m last November.
The funding supports the completion of the firm's Coyote Gulch demonstration facility, which is scheduled to start biodiesel production by the end of summer.

Fund news
Abu Dhabi's Masdar initiative is preparing a new cleantech fund of at least $250m. Its current $250m Masdar Clean Tech Fund, launched in 2006 in partnership with Credit Suisse, Consensus Business Group and Siemens, is already fully invested.

Further reading
Second quarter investment stats from the usual sources -
New Energy Finance (pdf 20kb) finds a strong bounceback in Europe thanks to big deals in offshore wind and solar. Total investment in clean energy totalled $24.3bn, almost double Q1's but still down on last year's figures. Total VC funding reached $1.2bn, but is still showing a disproportionate fall from previous highs.
GTM Research counted over $1.2bn VC in 85 companies, up by almost half on Q1 figures. Solar again led with $330m total, and marked increases in automotive and energy storage.
And the Cleantech Group also counted $1.2bn VC in 94 companies - but with just $114m for solar, the lowest total for three years, and transportation in the lead.

The new Clean Tech Revolution campaign from the UK government-backed Carbon Trust aims to quantify the economic benefits of cleantech commercialisation. The UK could generate up to £70 billion for the economy and almost 250,000 jobs in offshore wind and wave power alone, they reckon.

The Renewable Energy Snapshots (pdf 290kb) from the EC's Joint Research Centre detail the contribution of wind, solar and biomass towards the 2020 targets. Current capacity exceeds the 2010 targets proposed in 1997, but more investment in infrastructure and distribution is needed.

PwC's Capitalizing on a climate of change report details the likely impact of climate change and related issues on fundraising and M&A, noting:
In addition to the increasing importance of carbon in M&A activity, capital-raising transactions can be expected to increase in the clean technology field[...]It is becoming progressively more apparent that the public perceives clean technology companies as investments capable of generating a profitable return.

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