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.

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