Thursday, 16 July 2009

Clean Sweep 67

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

Green building firm E-Stack has raised £1.1m from growth specialist MMC Ventures. MMC manages funds under the Enterprise Investment Scheme as well as a syndicate of private investors.
A spin-out from Cambridge University, E-Stack produces and installs low-energy ventilation systems based on technology developed at the BP Institute. The firm has installed its systems at eight schools in the UK, and is working on a major retail project.

Also in Cambridge, grid tech developer GenDrive raised undisclosed funding from a business angle syndicate. The firm produces plug-and-play inverters which can connect a range of renewable generators to the grid - its TOTUS product can handle powers of 10-100KW.
Another Cambridge-based inverter developer, Enecsys raised a £6m first round last month.

French electric car developer Lumeneo raised a Euro1.6m round led by Eco-mobility Partners (a fund operated by national transport group SNCF). Objective Gazelle 2 and business angel group XMP-BA also joined in.
The funding goes towards development of Lumeneo's Smera model, a nippy little thing which resembles a four-wheeled enclosed scooter.

German water treatment firm Inge Watertechnologies has closed a Euro5m syndicated round. Baytech Venture Capital joined existing investors Taprogge Watertech, Emerald Technology Ventures, Sustainable Performance Group, Siemens Venture Capital, StoneFund and Entrepreneurs Fund.
Griefenberg-based Inge produces a range of water treatment products using its patented Multibore membrane, which is based on fibres with multiple pores of 20nm diameter arranged in a honeycomb structure.

Norwegian PV manufacturer Innotech Solar has raised a Euro6m second round from Swedish VC Sustainable Technologies Funds and seed investor NorthZone Ventures.
Innotech (formerly known as SCR) specialises in converting 'non-prime' PV cells rejected by other manufacturers into viable modules for large solar power plants. The new funding helps the company move to full-scale production.

Sweden's Mantex secured SKr12m (Euro1.1m) from the VC arm of German utility RWE Innogy. Mantex produces moisture detection systems for wood and crops, with applications in the biomass and waste treatment industries.

Inversiones Financieras Perseo, the private equity wing of Spanish utility Iberdrola is reported to be taking a 25% stake in algal developer AlgaEnergy (beware - their website may play Michael Jackson at you!).
The Madrid firm is developing a range of microalgae-based technologies for absorbing CO2 and producing biofuels and chemicals.
Iberdrola also announced it is applying for up to $500m in US economic stimulus funding for its American wind division.

Over in the US, methane-converter Prometheus Energy raised a reported $20m from the Shell Technology Ventures Fund (managed by Kenda Capital) and Black River Asset Management (part of agri giant Cargill).
Washington-based Prometheus converts low-quality methane-containing gases from landfill sites, farms, stranded oilwells and coalbeds into relatively clean-burning liquid natural gas. In many cases, the gas would otherwise be burned off or vented into the atmosphere.

California-based CPV developer SolFocus closed its third round at $77.6m. Apex Venture Partners led the round, with new investors including Demeter Partners and Advanced Equities, and previous investors New Enterprise Associates, NGEN and Yellowstone Capital.
SolFocus announced the round's first close at $47m in January. Funds go to ramp up production.

Massachusetts solar start-up Greenray meanwhile closed a $2m first round from Quercus Trust and 21Ventures. The firm produces plug-and-play PV modules for the residential market.

In another solar-related deal, printed electronics developer Kovio raised $20m from existing investors including Bessemer Venture Partners and KPCB. The California company prints silicon electronics onto thin film, using much less energy and hazardous chemicals than traditional manufacturing. Kovio is currently focused on RFID circuits and display technology, but is understood to be considering a move into thin-film PV.
And chemicals group Voltaix raised $9m from Novus Energy Partners. The New Jersey firm produces precursors for semiconductor layers in solar cells.

Domestic electronics group company Control4 raised $17.3m to develop a new range of energy management and display products. Best Buy Capital, Mercato Partners and University Venture Fund joined previous investors Foundation Capital, Frazier Technology Ventures, Thomas Weisel Venture Partners and vSpring Capital.

Energy-efficient cooling and energy systems developer Turbine Air Systems raised at least $15m (and possibly up to $50m) in a round led by Element Partners. The Houston-based group is targeting the renewables sector with products such as heat recovery systems for the geothermal and waste-to-energy markets.

Fund news
Anglo-German cleantech specialist WHEB Ventures announced a third closing of its second fund, WHEB Ventures Private Equity 2 LP, at £90m. Investors include family trusts for the Rothschilds and the Bamfords, as well as two German state-backed investors. WHEB also announced a number of new appointments in its Munich office.

Climate Change Capital raised an additional £13.85m for their Ventus Funds, bringing the total to over £50m. The Ventus Funds operate under the VCT regime, and are focused on small-to-medium onshore renewable projects in the UK.

Further reading
Results from Energy Saving Trust field trials suggest limited prospects for the domestic wind turbine market. Such small turbines do work, and have the potential to produce some 3,500GWh annually in the UK (equivalent to about 3.1% of domestic energy demand), but only if they're properly installed in appropriate locations. Previous studies found that, in most cases, output would not justify the installation costs - to be honest, the conclusions of this new report aren't radically different.

Results from the Manchester Report on potential climate change solutions, as trailed in May. Jointly run by the Manchester International Festival and the Guardian newspaper, the project identified 'twenty ideas that could save the world' - most of them familiar to regular readers, and many already in the VC-funded pipeline.

And if you missed it yesterday, the long-awaited UK Low Carbon Transition Plan and other plans from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The highlights from me; coverage in the FT and Guardian; responses from the Carbon Trust and Renewable Energy Association.

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