Thursday, 17 September 2009

Clean Sweep 70

A round-up of recent news in clean technology and cleantech investment. It's been a while since the last one, and there's been plenty happening.

Energy-efficient electronics developer Nujira raised a £10m fourth round from new investor Environmental Technologies Fund, Bank Invest, 3i, Amadeus, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital and private investors. The Cambridge-based firm provides a range of technologies to improve the energy efficiency of mobile communication technology, from base stations to handsets, by reducing heat waste.

Electric car spin-out Oxford Yasa Motors (no website as yet) secured £1.45m from Seven Spires Investments. The company is commercialising lightweight electric motors, and is working with Oxfordshire engineering firm Delta Motor Sport on a high-performance coupe.
The motors are based on tech developed at the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science. Initial development was supported by £75,000 seed funding from the Oxford University Challenge Seed fund managed by Isis Innovation.

Northern Ireland's Vertical Wind Energy raised a £1.2m round led by NorthStar Equity Investors.
As the name suggests, Vertical Wind Energy produces vertical-axis micro-turbines for domestic and business market. The investment from Newcastle-based NorthStar will be used to establish a new base in the North East, and to launch a new 6KW model.

Troubled Norwegian electric car group Think secured around $47m new capital (including conversion of interim financing) from investors including Ener1, Valmet Automotive and state-backed Investinor. The deal gives battery group Ener1 a 31% stake in Think.
Think also won court approval for its debt settlement plan, putting it back on the road to production.

Estonian-Austrian solar tech developer Crystalsol raised Euro2.5m seed funding from Norwegian VC Energy Future Invest and Finland's Conor Venture Partners.
A spin-out from Tallinn University of Technology, Crystalsol is commercialising PV cells based on copper zinc tin sulfoselenide (CZTS), a material which avoids the need for rare metals like indium and tellurium and which is also suitable for roll-to-roll thin-film production.

French solar installer Aviccia raised Euro2m from AXA Private Equity. The Champagne-based company designs and installs rooftop PV installations for business customers.

Swedish heat pump developer Pemtec landed SKr10m (£870,000) from Nordic cleantech specialist Sustainable Technologies Fund.
Pemtec produces energy collectors for ground source heat pump systems, which offer increased efficiency and groundwater protection.

Three water treatment deals:
BiAqua, a spin-out from the Delft University of Technology, won backing from Icos Capital for its bio-based contamination treatment technology.
Israeli membrane-based separation group BPT closed a $12m second round led by US Venture Partners and Pitango Venture Capital.
And California's Microvi Biotech closed a first round from undisclosed investors.

Deals for a whole bunch of renewable energy operators -
London private equity heavyweight Terra Firma acquired US windfarm developer EverPower in a deal valued at around $350m. Based in New York and Oregon, Everpower has over 800MW of installations in development. Cleantech VC Good Energies, which backed EverPower in 2007, also re-invested.
London-based Climate Change Capital Private Equity backed Italian solar developer Enerqos with Euro10m to support new solar farms in France, Italy and Greece.
Another Italian renewables developer, Elettrostudio Energia secured Euro5m from Crédit Agricole Private Equity. The business is a division of the Elettrostudio energy engineering group, and aims to have 250MW of wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric plant in operation by 2013.
French investor 123Venture and renewables group Frey Nouvelles Energies partnered up to back two energy developers: Solar Mimizan gets Euro2.5m, and biogas operator Mariagaz lands Euro1.5m.
Czech solar plant operator Energy 21 secured Euro15.3m from the Darby Converging Europe Mezzanine Fund (part of US-based Franklin Templeton Investments). The business aims to reach 40MW installed capacity by the end of the year.
Romanian cogeneration company Total Eurobusiness landed Euro6m (and as much again in later tranches) from Spanish investor GED.
And Israeli solar plant operator Arava Power sold a 40% stake to Siemens Project Ventures for $15m. The firm specialises in providing PV installations for kibbutzim.
In the US, utility-scale solar start-up TUUSSO Energy raised $2m from Pivotal Investments to fund early-stage development.

A couple of deals for wind services companies:
American Wind Capital announced undisclosed investment from the Barclays Natural Resource Investments team of Barclays Capital. The Connecticut firm provides landowners with upfront cash instead of longer-term lease payments for hosting wind turbines.
And Australia's Windlab Systems, which specialises in software-based wind-mapping to identify sites, raised A$10m from Lend Lease Ventures ahead of an IPO.

Much-hyped electric car group Tesla Motors has raised a $82.5m sixth round to set up retail stores. London-based Fjord Capital Partners led the deal, along with returning investors including Daimler and Aabar Investments.
California-based Tesla also recently secured a $465 million loan from the Department of Energy.

Domestic fuel cell developer ClearEdge Power reportedly raised a $15m round. The Oregon firm was backed in previous rounds by the Kohlberg Family, Big Basin Partners and Applied Ventures.

Environmental-impact software group Hara raised a $14m second round from JAFCO Ventures, Nth Power and KPCB. Based in California, Hara provides systems to help businesses monitor their energy use and emissions on a software-as-a-service model.

Solar tech start-up eIQ Energy announced $10m from NGEN Partners and Robert Bosch Venture Capital. The Californian firm has developed power-management technology that can boost PV efficiency by installing panels in parallel rather than in series.

A couple of Californian lithium battery deals:
Stealthy Seeo raised $8.6m from Khosla Ventures and others for its nano-structured lithium-polymer tech.
And CFX Battery has secured $5m of a planned $26.9m round, according to regulatory filings.

Biofuel logistics group raised a $11m second round from Monitor Clipper Partners and .406 Ventures. As the name suggests, the New Hampshire firm delivers woodpellets and other biofuels for domestic and business customers.

Canadian cleantech VC Chrysalix Energy announced its first investments from its latest fund, with some familiar names: electric motorbike developer Brammo Motorsports; waste-to-fuel group Plas2Fuel; energy long-shot General Fusion; and utility-scale battery developer Primus Power.

Also in Canada, biomass gasification developer Nexterra raised C$7.7m to commercialise its syngas production tech. Investors include BC Bioenergy Network, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, the National Research Council Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program, and Ethanol BC.

Fund news
Cleantech goliath Khosla Ventures confirmed it had raised over $1bn new money, including the previously-announced $250m seed fund and a large later-stage fund. It's reckoned to be the largest VC fundraising in the sector since 2007, and also the first time that Khosla's looked to outside investors. interviews Mr K.

Erstwhile venture champion 3i has sold off the bulk of its European venture portfolio to DFJ Esprit for £130m. The portfolio includes a handful of cleantech plays such as Cambridge-based energy-efficient semiconductor group CamSemi.
The sale marks a decisive step in 3i's move away from its roots in venture and growth plays towards large buyouts and infrastructure investments.

Further reading
The Guardian newspaper presents the Global Cleantech 100 in association with the Cleantech Group and Carbon Trust. There's many familiar names among the world's 'top 100' cleantech firms, as selected by an expert panel.

Following the political fallout over the closure of Vestas' wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight, the government comes up with a £4.4m grant for Clipper Windpower to support a new factory in the North East. The money goes towards developing the massive blades for the proposed 10MW 'Britannia' offshore turbine. The Crown Estate has already signed up for the mega-turbine.
DECC is also providing £1m for Artemis Intelligent Power to apply their hydraulic power tech to the wind sector; and £1.1m for Siemens' UK windpower arm to develop power converters for big offshore turbines.

The Carbon Trust unveils details of its tech-sharing joint venture with the China Energy Conservation Investment Corporation.

Ashish Patel of Intel Capital has a gloomy view of cleantech VC valuations, in an interview by Environmental Finance.

Fun interactive guide from McKinsey on evaluating the potential of solar technologies.

Earth2Tech provides a round-up of electric and hybrid vehicles on show at the Frankfurt Motor Show. As a Yorkshireman, I particularly like the Volkswagen E-Up.

And finally, who would have reckoned that you can make efficient and affordable solar panels from human hair? The Daily Mail, apparently.