Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Clean Sweep 75

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

Aberdeen-based marine contractor Subocean Group has raised £17m from LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, plus £25m debt from HSBC.
Founded in 2005, Subocean provides a range of services to offshore operators based on skills and technology developed for the oil and gas sector. The firm is increasingly targeting offshore wind and marine energy operators for power cable installation, and expects to double turnover in the next two years.

Solar concentrator developer Whitfield Solar has raised a £2.7m round co-led by Carbon Trust Investments and private investors. Existing investors Cascade Fund and Kilsby also joined the round.
A spin-out from the University of Reading, Whitfield produces PV modules which use Fresnel lenses to concentrate light, and two-axis tracking systems.

Carbon Trust Investments has also backed waste treatment group New Earth Solutions with an additional £4m, as part of an ongoing fundraising targeted at £15m. New Earth last raised £5m in September from Ludgate Environmental Fund.

Anglo-French carbon management start-up Carbon Hub has raised a Euro1m first round from Seventure Partners and angel investors. The firm provides software and supporting services to help organisations monitor and manage emissions.

German fuel cell start-up eZelleron raised Euro2.4m from investors led by eCAPITAL and Technologiegründerfonds Sachsen.
The Dresden-based firm is commercialising high-density gas-fuelled cells for mobile phones and other portable devices.

In the US, wind turbine blade manufacturer TPI Composites raised $26m from Element Partners and existing investors including Landmark Growth Capital Partners, NGP Energy Technology Partners, Angeleno Group and GE Capital. The Arizona firm produces lightweight blades using a composites vacuum infusion technology.

GE also invested in windpower tech company Danotek Motion Technologies, via its GE Energy Financial Services division which investing a $13.2m round alongside CMEA Capital, Khosla Ventures and Energy Capital
Management. Michigan-based Danotek produces permanent magnet generators for wind turbines, as well as a range of power systems for electric and hybrid vehicles.

Smart grid leader Silver Spring Networks raised a $100m institutional round including existing investors Google Ventures, Foundation Capital, KPCB and Northgate Capital.

Solar installation manager Tioga Energy closed a $20m second round. Investors include MEMC Electronic Materials, NGEN Partners, Nth Power and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The California firm provides PV systems and power purchase agreements for commercial and public sector clients.

Fund news
London-based Earth Capital Partners has announced a first close on its EON Climate & Renewables fund. The fund, which has a target of Euro750m, will focus on solar, biogas and biomass projects in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Final close is expected by end of 2010.

Anglo-US specialists Hudson Clean Energy Partners closed its debut fund at just over $1bn. Hudson focuses on capital-intensive areas in renewable power, alternative fuels, energy storage and demand-side energy management.

Further reading
Round-up of low carbon initiatives in the UK pre-budget review.

Interesting piece from Greentech Media on problems at prolific but secretive cleantech investor Quercus Trust.
Also, number-crunching the Solyndra IPO.

Finally, congratulations to the team at New Energy Finance on their acquisition by Bloomberg.

And Merry Christmas to all Clean Ventures readers, and best wishes for a cheery, clean and lucrative 2010!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Hermes to head cleantech UKIIF

Hermes Private Equity is managing a new £125m cleantech fund-of-funds anchored by UK government money.

The fund is one of two in the UK Innovation Investment Fund (UKIIF) scheme. The brainchild of science minister and erstwhile tech entrepreneur Paul Drayson, UKIIF aims to attract more institutional money into early-stage venture capital for UK tech companies. The business ministry BIS has put up £150m to anchor the fund, and has attracted a further £175m in its first close.

Hermes will be backing VC funds investing in the low-carbon and cleantech sectors, from seed to early stage. It has an initial £125m fund, including £50m from government.

The European Investment Fund will meanwhile manage an initial £200m fund, including £100m of government money, to invest across the ICT, life sciences and advanced manufacturing sectors. Both appointments are subject to contract.

Investors and tech transfer professionals in the tech start-up and spin-out space have welcomed the scheme, first announced in June. Rather than making direct investments (a strategy of limited effectiveness, which can potentially crowd out commercial VCs), the UKIIF is using public money to try and catalyse private sector investment.

In his pre-budget report, chancellor Alistair Darling also announced a string of initiatives to support domestic energy efficiency and electric vehicles. The BBC news has outline details.