Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Clean Sweep 69

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

Green cement developer Novacem raised something over £1m from Imperial Innovations, the London Technology Fund and the new Royal Society Enterprise Fund.
A spin-out from Imperial College London, Novacem is developing a cement which absorbs more carbon dioxide over its lifetime than is emitted in its production. Production of regular Portland cement produces around 5% of global CO2 emissions. Novacem estimates that each tonne of conventional cement replaced by its own product will reduce net emissions by .75t of CO2. The firm aims to complete a pilot plant by the end of the year.

Semiconductor technology company Surrey NanoSystems secured £1.75m from investors led by Octopus Ventures. Seed investor IP Group also invested alongside the University of Surrey and private investors.
Spun out from the University of Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute, Surrey NanoSystems is commercialising a low-temperature growth process for carbon nanotubes. Applications include advanced solar cells and fuel cells.

French fuel cell tech group Pragma Industries has raised Euro412,000 from Finaque, Oseo Capital and others.
Based near Biarritz, Pragma supplies test stations and components to PEM fuel cell developers, and is also developing its own 100W-10KW cells.

US biofuel group Amyris Biotechnologies has raised $24.7m of a planned $62m third round, according to a regulatory filing. Investors weren't disclosed, but previous backers include Khosla Ventures and KPCB.
The California firm uses an engineered strain of yeast to produce fuels and other chemicals, from crops and agricultural waste. The firm recently opened a demonstration plant in Brazil using local sugarcane.

KPCB has also reportedly backed water treatment company Applied Process Technology. The California-based firm is commercialising an advanced oxidation process for water treatment and remediation applications.

Controversial electric vehicle company ZAP secured up to $25m in funding from China-focused Cathaya Capital. The package included $5m equity (with options on a further $10m) and a $10m loan facility.
ZAP says it will use the investment to accelerate production and sales of its all-electric vehicles in Europe and China. The Californian firm has drawn criticism for failing to deliver on previous promises, however.

Green plastics developer Novomer announced a $14m second round led by OVP Venture Partners. Previous investors Physic Venture Partners, Flagship Venture Partners and DSM Venturing also joined the round.
The New York company is developing a catalytic method of creating polymers and industrial chemicals using carbon dioxide and monoxide as a feedstock.

Printed electronics developer Plextronics raised $14m from investors led by Belgian chemicals group Solvay. The Pennsylvania firm is commercialising LED lighting and thin-film PV products based on organic inks.

Manufacturing tech group Advanced Electron Beams closed a $14.2m third round led by Flagship Ventures. Previous investors Atlas Venture, General Catalyst Partners, RockPort Capital Partners and Agman Partners, as well as corporate investor GE, also joined in.
Massachusetts-based AEB produces electron beam devices used to sterilise products and packaging in a more energy-efficient way than the thermal and chemical technologies usually used in the pharmaceutical and food industries. The firm is also developing new applications in clean manufacturing and materials engineering.

Small turbine producer Southwest Windpower announced an undisclosed round led by PCG Clean Energy and Technology Fund. Previous investors Altira, GE Energy Financial Services, NGP Energy Technology Partners, and Rockport Capital Partners also joined in. Funding goes towards global marketing of its Skystream plug-and-play residential turbine.

Energy management group Power Assure closed a $2.5m first round from DFJ and individual investors. The California firm uses software to help data centres cut their energy use by up to half.

Carbon sequestration company SunOne Solutions raised an undisclosed round from carbon finance group C-Quest Capital. The funding will support national expansion for the Nebraska firm, which specialises in agricultural sequestration projects such as conservation tillage and sustainable forestry which are eligible for carbon credits under various trading regimes.

In a potentially very interesting deal, Canadian fusion energy developer General Fusion secured C$22m funding. GrowthWorks Capital, Braemar Energy Ventures, Chrysalix Energy Ventures and The Entrepreneurs Fund provided C$9m between them, while the state-backed Sustainable Development Canadian Technology Fund is providing up to C$13.9m.
General Fusion is developing a magnetised target fusion reactor in partnership with researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and has a pat-pending technology for collapsing the plasma using low-cost pneumatics. The firm says this can potentially reduce the cost of fusion energy tenfold, allowing it to compete directly with current generation tech.
Like any fusion technology, it's a long shot, but the potential rewards are immense.

Fund news
Whimsically-named German VC The Foo has launched a Euro25m sustainability fund, and is seeking investment from ethical investment houses and individuals. The fund isn't specifically aimed at cleantech, but will have strict environmental and social criteria.

Cleantech stalwart Khosla Ventures closed its new seed-stage fund at $250m. Three quarters of the fund will be aimed at cleantech, with the rest targeted at IT. State pension fund Calpers provided $60m of the total. Khosla is also believed to be raising a $750m later-stage fund.

And NGP Energy Technology Partners has closed its second cleantech fund at $348m, ahead of its $300m target. The Washington DC investor now has around $496m under management.

Further reading
The Carbon Trust has launched an Innovation Awards competition for developers and users of low carbon technologies. Development categories include power, buildings, transport, and industry; and there's also awards for early adoption in the private and public sectors. No cash prize, but it'd be good for marketing.

Good article from the Economist a few weeks ago on Britian's looming energy crunch.

Finally, for fans of speculative fiction, here's the GreenPunk Manifesto.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Clean Sweep 68

A round-up of recent news in clean technology and cleantech investment. I've been laid up with a cold for the past week, so plenty to catch up on.

Cellulosic biofuel developer TMO Renewables has closed a £11m round, with Presnow, Diverso and Libra Advisors joining existing investors Jupiter Asset Management, Noble Group, and RAB Capital.
Guildford-based TMO plans to use thermophilic bacteria, as found in compost heaps, to convert cellulosic waste into ethanol. The firm completed its first demonstration unit earlier this year.

Loughborough-based fuel cell developer Intelligent Energy announced it had raised $30m new equity from existing and new investors.
Intelligent Energy produces a range of PEM fuel cell stacks and power systems, and supporting technologies, and is working with utility and industrial partners including SSE, Suzuki and Boeing. The firm previously raised $13.6m in July 2008.

Climate Change Capital Private Equity has backed a management buyout at building efficiency firm Climate Energy. The Essex-based business advises public and private sector bodies on improving the energy efficiency of their buildings. Funding was not disclosed.

Irish biomass developer Imperative Energy reportedly secured Euro30m venture funding from an un-named London-based venture firm. (Edit: Imperative has confirmed the investment as coming from Rockfield Energy Investments.)

Belgian VC Capricorn Venture Partners has doubled its investment in Norwegian silicon recycler Metallkraft. Capricorn invested NKr33m (Euro3.5m) in the firm in December 2008.
Metallkraft is commercialising a process for recycling the silicon carbine slurry used in the wafer cutting stage of standard PV cell manufacturing. In what it calls an 'ongoing share expansion programme', the Kristiansand company also secured NKr66m from Norwegian fund Investinor last month.

Biggest deal in the US came from PV cell manufacturer Suniva, which confirmed a $75m third round led by new investor Warburg Pincus. Apex Venture Partners, NEA, HIG Ventures and Advanced Equities also joined in. The round actually closed in Q2, making it the biggest solar VC deal for the first half of the year.
Georgia-based Suniva is currently preparing a second 64MW production line for its high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon cells.

Solar installer SunRun raised a $18m second round from Accel Partners and previous investor Foundation Capital. The California firm provides domestic solar electricity systems on a pay-as-you-go lease basis.

A whole bunch of smart grid and energy-monitoring deals. Sequoia Capital led a $32m third round in eMeter, a Californian provider of energy management software for consumers.
Local rival Advanced Telemetry raised an undisclosed second round from Quercus Trust and 21Ventures for its wireless energy management systems.
Energy monitoring and home security provider iControl raised a $23m third round from new investors ADT Security Services, Cisco, Comcast Interactive Capital and GE Security, and existing investors Charles River Ventures, Intel Capital and KPCB.
Still in California, smart grid networking firm Grid Net raised an undisclosed third round led by Braemar Energy Ventures, plus previous investors Catamount Ventures, GE Energy Financial Services and Intel Capital.
And Californian-Irish Powervation, which produces IC-based energy management tech, announced a $10m second round from SEP, Intel Capital, Venture Tech Alliance and Fourth Level Ventures.
Intel Capital also invested in energy management group CPower, in an extension of the New York firm's second round (previously closed at $10.7m in April). CPower provides demand response, energy efficiency and other management systems for corporate clients.
It's probably safe to say this is a fairly hot sector at the moment.

Battery tech also remains popular, with thin-film lithium-polymer developer Solicore closing a $13.3m fourth round led by manufacturer Rogers Corp. Previous investors DFJ, Rho Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures, OPG Ventures and Firelake Capital also returned. The new funding goes towards ramping up production and global marketing for the Florida firm's batteries, which are used in smart cards, sensors and medical devices.
And printed carbon-zinc battery manufacturer Blue Spark Technologies announced it had raised $1.5m of a planned $5m second round, from Early Stage Partners, Sunbridge Partners and others. The Ohio firm is primarily aiming its products at the battery-assisted RFID market.

Electric car developer Coda Automotive announced a $24m second round from Angeleno Group and a host of individual investors including former Treasury chief Hank Paulson. The Californian company is preparing to launch its electric sedan, powered by Li-ion batteries, in 2010. The new funding goes towards development, marketing, and a battery production joint venture.

Fund news
Chinese cleantech investor Nature Elements Capital is looking to raise $350m to invest in clean energy projects and cleantech manufacturers. The firm is headed by KK Chan, formerly head of Chinese investments for Climate Change Capital. See Environmental Finance for more.

France's Demeter Partners announced a second close, at Euro182m, of its new Demeter 2 fund. The fund will focus on expansion capital opportunities in what Demeter calls 'eco-energies and eco-industries in France and other European countries'.