Monday, 30 November 2009

Clean Sweep 74

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

After some 20 months of wrangling, UK renewables group Novera has been taken over by Infinis, a buy-and-build renewables vehicle backed by private equity group Terra Firma.
Infinis paid 77p per share for a final batch of shares to take a 50.15% stake in Novera, and is making a recommended offer at the same price for all outstanding shares. The bid represents a 60% premium on the market price for 6 October. The first takeover bid for the company was launched by 3i Infrastructure in February 2008, at a proposed 90p per share. The deal shows both the continued appetite from later-stage private equity players for renewables, and a slump in valuations.
Novera currently operates 58 sites with total 143MW capacity, mostly landfill gas, and has a substantial expansion of wind operations in the pipeline.

Norwegian solar module developer Innotech Solar has raised NKr52m (Euro6.1m) from state-backed VC Investinor. New employees invested a further NKr 2.3m.
Narvik-based Innotech acquires and upgrades sub-standard PV modules from other developers, and is also involved with power plant development.

German PV developer Heliatek closed a $27m second round led by Wellington Partners. The syndicated round also included corporate investors Bosch, RWE Innogy Ventures and BASF Venture Capital, as well as the High-Tech-Gründerfonds, eCAPITAL, the Technologiegründerfonds Sachsen and GP Bullhound Sidecar.
The funding will support a first production facility in Dresden for Heliatek's thin-film solar cells, which use organic dyes. The company was spun out of Technical University of Dresden and University of Ulm in 2006.

Sweden's Solarus has secured SKr2m (Euro192,000) from angel network
Sting Capital
. Solarus is developing a range of concentrating solar collectors, including a hybrid solar thermal and PV panel which can provide both electricity and heat.

Spanish PV developer Siliken has secured backing from Italian investor Cape Live via its Helio Capital operation. The agreement will include construction of six new solar farms, including 5MW peak capacity in Puglia and 1MW in Sicily.

Hydrogen storage developer C.En has raised an undisclosed equity round with Italian insurance house Generali Group.
Zurich-based C.En is developing a relatively lightweight capillary-based storage system that could allow mass adoption of hydrogen-fuelled road transport.

French biomass producer Alpin Pellet, a spin-out from wood products group Savoie Pan, has raised Euro2.5m growth funding from Italian investor Ambienta. Ambienta takes a 51% stake in the business, and plans expansion through new production facilities and acquisitions.

US waste-heat recovery group Electratherm raised $5.4m from undisclosed investors.
The Nevada-based firm is developing systems to generate electricity from industrial waste heat, using a closed-loop organic Rankine cycle, and recently completed its first field tests.

US-Irish energy management tech group Powervation raised undisclosed extra funding from specialist investor Braemar Energy Ventures. The firm, which produces chips which can reduce energy use in IT hardware by up to 30%, previously raised $10m from investors including SEP and Intel Capital in July.

Fund news
Very active cleantech VC Foresight Group has launched its latest fund, the Foresight Environmental Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) Fund 2, with a £20m target. Under the government-backed EIS scheme, the fund is open to individuals with at least £10,000 to invest. The fund will focus on growth and buyout opportunities in unquoted UK environmental companies.

Swiss investor Mountain Cleantech is preparing to launch a second, later-stage fund with a Euro100m target. See Environmental Finance for more.

New sustainability-focused investor Earth Capital Partners is partnering with German utility group E.On to market a Euro750m infrastructure fund. The investor, backed by former Man Group supremo Stanley Fink, also told Environmental Finance it's still on course to raise $5bn for a string of funds.

Further reading
Pre-Copenhagen fretting and wobbling is threatening cleantech investment, says UN environment chief Achin Steiner, reported in the Guardian. Carbon Finance reports on similar concerns in the emissions-trading markets.
The Copenhagen Diagnosis meanwhile presents a synthesis of climate change research published since the last IPCC report. It's not a terribly cheering read.

Also, according to the Guardian again, UK plans for a feed-in tariff are looking shaky, with final proposals now unlikely to emerge before the new year.

From the IEA, an interesting report (pdf, 2.6mb) on how transmission grids can cope with variability of significant wind generation. Most of the common complaints about intermittency and cost can be overcome, they reckon.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Clean Sweep 73

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

UK cleantech specialist Ludgate Environmental Fund has made a follow-on investment of Euro2.3m in portfolio company The investment bring's Ludgate's total investment up to Euro7.3m.
Münster-based produces biogas from manure and silage feedstocks, and currently operates at 44 sites with total capacity of 32MW. The new investment will support organic growth and acquisitions.

French solar installer Eco-Energy has secured Euro4m funding from Naxicap Partners, Agregator Capital and Vatel Capital.
The Nantes-based company provides PV roof installations for agricultural and industrial buildings.

Danish wind industry supplier Skykon has raised a 'large three digit million kroner' investment from Swedish investor EQT.
Skykon is a holding company with five subsidiaries (including Scotland's Welcon Towers) offering a range of products to the wind turbine industry, from blade tooling to turnkey towers. The new funding supports new production facilities and other developments.

Fuel cell developer Powercell Sweden has secured SKr60m (Euro5.8m) from the government-backed Fouriertransform fund.
Powercell, a spin-out from Volvo Group, is developing PEM fuel cells and related technology for transport and other applications. The firm's converters can produce hydrogen gas from current fuels including petrol and diesel.
The investment is the first from the Fouriertransform fund, which is dedicated to venture investment in the automotive sector.

US biochemicals developer DNP Green Technology has closed a $12m first round led by French VC Sofinnova Partners. Other investors include Mitsui & Co Venture Partners, Samsung Ventures Investment Corporation, The Cliffton Group and AquaRIMCO.
HQ'd in New Jersey, DNP uses agricultural feedstocks to synthesise succinic acid, a precursor for a variety of plastics and other chemicals. The group also operates a joint venture with French research group ARD.

Concentrating solar tech developer Infinia has raised a further $14m, according to filings. Last year, the Washington firm raised $57m from investors including Khosla Ventures, Power Play Energy and Vulcan Capital.
Infinia is developing thermal conversion generations based on Stirling engines, and has also secured around $9.4m in government funding.

Thin-film PV developer Ampulse has closed a $8m round led by Globespan Capital Partners and El Dorado Ventures.
Colorado-based Ampulse is developing crystalline silicon thin film cells, produced using hot-wire chemical vapour deposition techniques. The firm says its tech can double module efficiency while cutting costs by 75%, compared with current thin-film Si.

Recycling services provider Recyclebank landed a $28.25m third round led by NGEN Partners and DFJ. The Philadelphia-based firm works with waste companies and local authorities to encourage consumers to recycle by giving reward points for green actions, and is expanding into the UK.
NGEN and DFJ also led a $12.2m first round in energy services group Renewable Funding. The California firm is a leading financer of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, which help homeowners invest in energy efficiency and renewables projects.

Water treatment start-up MicroMedia Filtration raised $3m from Sail Venture Partners. The California firm uses a string of chemical and physical processes to produce irrigation-quality water from raw sewage.
Sail is also preparing to close its second cleantech fund at $250m, with $32 already invested.

Fund news
Scottish angel investor Par Equity and energy consultancy Senergy are jointly launching a £50m renewables fund.
The Par Sustainability Fund 1 will focus on opportunities in onshore and offshore wind, ¬geothermal, waste-to-energy and recycling, with investments of £500k-2m . Insitutional fundraising will start in the new year.

Carbon Trust Investments has been granted an extra £18m from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to invest in UK-based cleantech companies. The extra money is intended to fill a funding gap over the next 12-18 months, following a drop in commercial VC activity.

Cleantech specialist Impax Asset Management has raised an extra £15m from the Environment Agency's pension fund. The EA fund made an initial investment of £35m in Impax last year.

Olympus Capital has reportedly closed its Asia Environmental Partners fund at $250m. The fund will back around a dozen clean energy, waste and water treatment companies around Asia and India.
Also in India, the Prithvi Sustainability Innovation and Technology Fund launched with a target of $150m. The fund is though to be the first domestic specialist investor in Indian cleantech, and will target investments of $5-15m.

Dutch investment manager Robeco is raising a third cleantech fund-of-funds, to at least match its $640m Clean Tech Private Equity II. See Environmental Finance for more.

Further reading
Fred Pearce in New Scientist takes a sceptical look at the Saharan solar Desertec project. The project partners, including Munich Re, RWE, Siemens, E.On and other financial and industry players, formed a joint venture company last week to develop the Euro400bn scheme.

Details of 37 transformational energy research projects backed by $151m from the US Department of Energy's ARPA-E. Some interesting stuff, from grid-scale batteries to carbon capture.

More from Rob Day of Cleantech Investing on the broken model of cleantech VC. Entertaining comments follow.