Sunday, 14 November 2010

Leading VC offers tips for cleantech businesses

Dr Rob Wylie of WHEB Ventures provides ten tips for cleantech businesses in the latest issue of Cleantech magazine.

Rob's Dos and Don'ts for the cleantech entrepreneur include:

1. Be realistic about cash requirements
2. Find ways to generate profitable revenue early
3. Look carefully at sales lead times
4. Avoid capital-intensive projects unless it is clear how they can be financed
5. Find an investor syndicate that will add value and has business experience
6. Be realistic about your skills
7. Hire a useful board of independent non-execs
8. Be careful of markets requiring government certification or approval
9. When it comes to distribution partners, big is not always beautiful
10. Be realistic about valuation

Read the full feature here: Ten Tips for Cleantech businesses

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Fuel cells and venture investment

We've just published a special issue of Cleantech magazine on fuel cells. The entire issue is available as a virtual magazine

There are several features on venture investors including profiles of two funds, Conduit Ventures and the PGM Development Fund.

We've also included a feature entitled Fuel Cells: the role of Venture Investors.

With Bloom Energy looking like an IPO candidate, this could be the time for the VC community to start focusing on fuel cells again!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Cleantech Survey

Results of the Cleantech Investment and Private Equity survey conducted by Cleantech Investor and Norton Rose earlier this year have now been published. The survey was conducted amongst both cleantech companies and investors - predominantly from Europe and North America. Key findings included the following:

Energy efficiency is expected to be the cleantech sector attracting the most investment interest in the immediate short term

Wind will continue to be the main sub-sector in cleantech energy generation; notwithstanding this trend, solar has recently attracted more investment than any other sub-sector

Cleantech generated electricity cannot immediately satisfy the world’s ever increasing energy needs; it is felt that it will take some considerable time to displace fossil fuel based technology; in reality the expectation is that it will require a mixture of different technologies to satisfy consumer demand

The USA was identified as being the most likely beneficiary of private equity driven cleantech investment

Europe is perceived as offering the greatest incentives for cleantech investment

Political and regulatory support by governments, and the financial incentives they provide for cleantech innovation, are seen as crucial factors in the continuing growth of the cleantech sector

Banks are still cautious about lending to the sector, despite proposals to support the green economy, and debt remains tightly controlled

Cleantech investments are viewed with a greater degree of caution in comparison with other sectors; despite this, any fear of a cleantech ‘bubble’ does not appear founded.

A summary of the survey has been published in the latest issue of Cleantech magazine and is available on the Cleantech Investor website. The full survey is also available for download from the Cleantech Investor website.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

WHEB chosen by Environmental Innovation Fund

WHEB Ventures is the first fund to receive investment from the Hermes Private Equity Environmental Innovation Fund. WHEB Ventures focuses on Cleantech companies with solutions for resource efficiency and conservation and invests predominantly on Europe.

Hermes was selected to manage a fund of funds on behalf of the UK Innovation Investment Fund and confirmed that it had raised £125 million in January (read comment in Cleantech magazine).

The UK Innovation Investment Fund was launched last year by Lord Drayson.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Cleantech Investor takes over Clean Ventures blog

Cleantech Investor has taken over the Clean Ventures blogspot from Tim Chapman. Tim has been a regular contributor to Cleantech magazine for almost three years and we are sad to lose his input, but we wish him well in his new role - and we would like to thank him for handing over the blog. We hope we can keep up the high quality of comment and insight into venture activity in cleantech which Tim has been providing over the years.

Cleantech Investor will comment here on cleantech venture activity. The blog should compliment our coverage of deals and fund news on the Cleantech Investor website and in Cleantech magazine: Cleantech Deal Tracker - and Cleantech Fund News.

Watch this space!

Anne McIvor, Editor Cleantech magazine

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

A clean break

Because of a return to full-time employment, I'm winding up the Clean Ventures blog and am no longer freelancing. Thank you to everyone who has read and supported the blog over the past few years, especially those who have commissioned work.

I'll still be writing on clean(ish) technology related matters in the new job, but in a rather different context - I'm now communications manager at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, including the new Nuclear AMRC. I'll also still be writing on various subjects at my 2ubh blog.

If anyone is interested in taking over the Clean Ventures site, please do get in touch.

Thanks again, and good fortune to everyone out there developing and investing in new clean technologies. Go do stuff that changes the world.


Friday, 5 March 2010

Budget wishlist for renewables

Industry group RenewableUK (formely the BWEA) has released a Budget Submission to UK Treasury (pdf 1mb) outlining the government support that the renewables industry wants to see - more money in a range of targeted programmes, basically.

The headline demand is a further £200-300m over two or three years to invest in facilities and technologies for offshore wind and tidal power. Also on the wishlist are tax breaks for manufacturers; a capital grant programme; longer-term support for marine renewables of up to £120m pa plus higher banding under the Renewables Obligation; and £45m to help solve aviation-related objections to wind developments. All worthy stuff, but I'd be surprised if its gets more than a nodding acknowledgement come red box time.

The paper also puts the case for a new public institution to support construction finance for renewables and encourage more private investment. Another VC-style initiative will not be sufficient, it notes:
It has been suggested that early-stage venture capital for entrepreneurial start-ups should be the focus of a public finance institution, but we do not see this as being an issue for wind power: the deployment of wind onshore and offshore over the next decade will require something in the order of £100bn of capital, and this dwar fs into insignificance the amounts that will be needed to develop technologies and the companies that produce them. This is not to say that VC-type funding will not be helpful: firms in the marine renewable and small wind sectors may well benefit greatly; innovation funds to bring forward cost-reducing techniques for offshore wind are also needed. But these other needs are orders of magnitude less than the requirement for mass deployment.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Clean Sweep 78

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

UK tidal group Marine Current Turbines has secured an extra £4.8m funding courtesy of engineering group Siemens. The funding follows a £3.5m round led by Carbon Trust Investments in January.
The new money will help Bristol-based MCT deploy its Seagen tidal turbine tech to create the UK's first commercial tidal energy farm.

Scottish wave energy developer AWS Ocean Energy meanwhile secured £2m from Scottish Enterprise and Shell Technology Ventures Fund (a corporate venture fund managed by Kenda Capital). The investment supports the continuing development of the Inverness firm's AWS-III wave energy device. AWS aims to deploy a full-scale demonstrator plant in 2013.

German smart metering company Cuculus has closed a Euro2.6m round led by Dutch clean energy specialist Yellow&Blue Investment Management. KfW also invested alongside existing backers High-Tech Gruenderfonds and Siegmund BG.
Thuringia-based Cuculus is developing its ZONOS metering platform in partnership with a number of German utilities.

Stealthy Israeli fuel cell company CellEra has raised a further $2m from Israel Cleantech Ventures and BrainsToVentures. It raised the same amount from Cleantech Ventures in 2008.
CellEra is developing what it calls 'a disruptive low-temperature fuel cell technology', thought to be a methanol-fuelled cell based on proprietary platinum-free electrode technology, aimed at stationary applications such as back-up power.

Canadian waste-to-fuel firm Enerkem has announced a C$53.8m (£34m) round, with corporate investor Waste Management and local VC Cycle Capital joining previous investors Rho Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures and BDR Capital.
The Montreal firm is commercialising a proprietary thermo-chemical process to convert carbon-based waste into biofuels such as ethanol. Last year, it received a $50m grant from the US DoE towards a Mississippi plant.

A couple of interesting Californian companies securing first rounds:
One Block Off the Grid (aka 1BOG, charmingly), a Californian company that helps neighbourhoods install solar systems, has raised $5m from New Enterprise Associates. 1BOG works with local groups of householders to identify suitable installers and secure bulk discounts, deriving its revenues from referral fees.
And consumer electronics recycling business ecoATM raised an undisclosed round led by TAO Venture Partners. The firm supplies automated stations which give consumers rewards, based on secondary market value, in return for depositing unwanted gizmos and gadgets.

Further reading
A report on the future of Britain's electricity networks from the UK government's Energy and Climate Change Committee. It calls for more government action to help deliver a smart grid, to manage a more diverse and distributed generation network, and a new regime to prioritise renewables and encourage sharing of grid capacity. Some 60-80GW of generation, including 17GW of renewable capacity, is currently waiting to be connected to the grid, the report notes.

A list of the Top 10 cleantech cluster organizations from Shawn Lesser of Sustainable World Capital. From Europe, there's bodies from Austria, Finland, Denmark and Sweden - but (not unsurprisingly, to be honest) nothing from the UK.

Details of the new Veolia Innovation Accelerator run by the French environmental services group - the programme aims to support start-ups in areas including bio-resources, water and wastewater, waste treatment, energy generation and transport.

Some readers might notice that the address is rerouting to This is just while I sort out some hosting issues, and shouldn't affect your use of the site. A new improved site should emerge sooner or later, as time and web skills permit.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Clean Sweep 77

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

Emissions management firm AMEE has closed a $5.5m second round led by Amadeus Capital Partners. Existing investors including O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Union Square Ventures also joined the round.
AMEE, which has offices in London and San Francisco, provides the data, modelling systems and application programming interface (API) to underpin enterprise carbon accounting packages. Customers include business analytics group SAS, Morgan Stanley and the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change. The new funding will be used for product development and international expansion.

Waste management group Sterecycle has raised £10m from unidentified institutional, retail and existing investors. The London-based firm has been backed in previous rounds by Goldman Sachs, Fidelity International, Impax Asset Management and Ailsa3Ventures.
Sterecycle operates the world's first autoclave plant for household waste in South Yorkshire, which separates waste into sterile organic fibre and recyclable non-organics. The fibre can then be used for land reclamation, or energy generation. The new money will go towards doubling capacity to 200kT/a, and developing a second site in Cardiff.

Water monitoring tech developer Intellitect Water has raised over £2m. SME investor Catapult Venture Managers invested £1m, with the remainder from existing investors including Pemberstone Investments.
Dorset-based Intellitect produces a range of monitoring instruments, including the Intellisonde which features 12 sensors in a compact head that can inserted directly into water pipelines.

Also in water treatment, Clean Filtration Technologies raised $1.5m from Dow Venture Capital and others, in the first part of a planned $3m fundraising. The company's CFT Turboclone hydroclone system remvoes total suspended solids from difficult-to-filter water.
And GeoPure HydroTechnologies raised an undisclosed first round led by Stockyard Capital. The Texas-based firm specialises in recycling contaminated water from mining and drilling operations.

Climate Change Capital Private Equity invested NKr85m (Euro10m) in silicon recycler Metallkraft as part of a KNr140m convertible bond issue.
The Norwegian firm is commercialising a process for recycling the silicon carbine slurry used in the wafer cutting stage of standard PV cell manufacturing. The new funds support plant development in Singapore to service REC's 740MW solar wafer plant.

London-based Frog Capital has invested Euro3m to acquire a stake in German biogas developer from the US-based TCW Group. The Münster-based firm produces biogas from manure and silage feedstocks, and is also backed by Ludgate Environmental Fund. TCW led a Euro60m round in May 2009.

US geothermal energy developer Vulcan Power has landed $108m from existing investor Denham Capital. The Oregon-based group is developing an estimated 300MW of geothermal resources in Nevade, California, Oregon and Arizona, and has long-term power purchase agreements with local utilities.

PV installer Petra Solar has raised a $40m round led by new investors Craton Equity Partners and Espírito Santo Ventures. Existing investors Element Partners, Blue Run Ventures, military venture fund OnPoint Technologies and Kuwait’s National Technology Enterprises Company also returned.
The New Jersey group specialises in installing its SunWave modules to utility poles and streetlights, delivering power straight to the grid. The new funding goes to recruitment and expanding its customer base.

PV tech group 1366 Technologies raised $5.15m from North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners, as part of a targeted $6.2m round.
The MIT spin-off is developing a range of novel module technologies, including a 'self-aligned cell' which promises mono-crystal efficiences at multi-crystal production costs and a 'grooved ribbon' busbar to improve photocurrent capture.

And, in a rare exit for cleantech VCs, US solar thermal tech developer Ausra has been bought by French energy group Areva. The California company, which develops and installs solar steam generators, was backed by VCs including Khosla Ventures, KPCB, Generation Investment Management, Starfish Ventures and KERN Partners, most recently raising $25.5m in April 2009. Terms of the sale were not disclosed, but a price over $200m has been mooted.

Electric vehicle infrastructure developer Coulomb Technologies raised a $14m second round led by Voyager Capital and Rho Ventures. The California company is rolling out open-access networks of urban 'ChargePoint' stations. Coulomb also announced a new 'Flex Billing' system which means drivers don't have to take a subscription to fill up at its charge points.

Clean energy advisors Nexamp has raised a $6.5m first round from Good Energies, Point Judith Capital, RCG Ventures and individual angels. The Massachusetts firm provides systems integration and project management services for energy generation, efficiency and management, for commercial, public sector and individual clients.

Wind turbine tech developer Viryd Technologies took $5m from investors including China's Shentong Group, which is also entering a joint venture to serve the renewables market. The Texas firm is developing drivetrain technology based on a continuously variable planetary (CVP) transmission developed by Fallbrook Technologies.

Micro-CHP developer ClearEdge Power reportedly raised $11m, on top of $15m last August. The California firm is now selling its ClearEdge5, a compact gas-fired heat and power unit aimed at the residential and small commercial market.

Further reading
The Carbon Trust announces £22m new funding for what it calls the six most promising technologies in marine energy: Atlantis Resources, Aquamarine Power, Hammerfest Strom UK, Marine Current Turbines, Pelamis Wave Power, and Voith Hydro.

New Scientist reports on research showing that current algal biofuel tech isn't as green as it's painted -
Andres Clarens at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville has modelled the environmental impacts of algal farms and concludes that they require six times as much energy as growing land plants - and emit significantly more greenhouse gases.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

EIB energy head interviewed

Christopher Knowles is head of energy, environment and investment funds at the European Investment Bank. EIB has emerged as a major provider of project finance to the renewable energy sector, committing Euro6bn in 2009. Deals included the underwriting of Belwind's 330MW offshore wind development off the Belgian coast, the first time that EIB has assumed project finance risk for such a venture.

I interviewed Knowles in December, as part of my research for a feature on renewables project finance for Envirotech & Clean Energy Investor magazine. Although the focus is on project finance rather than venture capital, I thought the interview would be of interest to Clean Ventures readers, so herre present a complete transcript of the telephone interview.

For the full story on renewables project finance, including comments from a range of international developers, investors and advisors, see my article in the February 2010 edition of the magazine.

How does EIB approach renewable energy project finance - do you look to make a commercial return, or are you driven by policy aims?

"We are an institution of EU policy. We use the phrase 'policy-driven bank' to describe ourselves. The policy drivers are all European policy drivers formulated by the European Commission. We have policy drivers in the transport sector and social sectors, and these days, some of the crucial policy drivers are in the environmental and energy sectors. Also with the economic crisis, there's been an objective to put together stimulus policies.
"We run our lending on a three-year rolling corporate plan which takes these different policies and translates them into quantitative and qualitative indicators, which is what we then try to achieve. It's a normal corporate planning process.
"We will not do anything which isn't ticking the right boxes for us in policy terms. That also means that we may be presented with a project that looks fabulous in commercial terms, but we won't do it if it's not ticking the boxes. It's fair to say we're primarily guided by policy, and as a secondary consideration we start looking to more commercial things. We're very rigid on environmental considerations, and would certainly expect our customers to be law-abiding EU citizens.
"Up to September 2008, we were essentially operating a policy of managed growth. Our shareholders told us they didn't want us to come back to them for more capital to finance growth. Any additional capital, we have to generate ourselves. This led us to adopt a policy of managed growth where, taking into account all the same regional development policies, we were basically operating a policy of slow growth in the older parts of Europe. With the collapse of the financial markets, our shareholders said: 'Forget about managed growth, we need you to start helping us to douse the fires of recession. Increase your lending as fast as you can.'
"What that meant was that, in three months, we were asked to revise our lending quantitative targets from a steady state of around Euro50bn/a to around Euro70bn/a, which is what we think we will achieve this year [2009]. We have in the last year increased our lending by 40%, which is quite an achievement.
"In the energy sector, we have for some time now targeted renewables as a focus sector. We have, from 2006 to now, basically increased our lending to renewables by a factor of six, from Euro500m in 2006 to cEuro3bn this year. We don't have an absolute target for lending for renewables. Currently our target is renewables should be not less than 20% of total lending for the energy sector.
"We've had this growth in renewables lending which has exceeded even our total lending."

What is your typical lending arrangement or structure?

"We do all sorts of things. We can lend simply to the public sector, we can lend to the private sector, or to some mix of the two. We can lend on people's balance sheets, or off. We're relatively lightly staffed which means that we're in some sense a wholesaler. One of the consequences of that we don't particularly like, but it's not possible for us to get directly involved in large numbers of small projects. We have to focus on doing a small number of largish transactions.
"We have a number of structures that allow us to support small projects on an indirect basis. A popular product is the global loan which is basically a line of credit. About 30% of our lending is lines of credit which we put out to banks operating on a regional or national basis, which basically provides them with liquidity for use in certain types of activity. In this way, we influence the lending of the bank."

Is that the structure you're using to support UK windfarms? [In November 2009, the EIB provided £700m to support UK onshore windfarms, with match funding from RBS, Lloyds and BNP Paribas.]

"It's very similar. We operate something called a framework loan. It's fully intermediated on risk by the local banks. The UK one does have an obligation. When we lend, we like to say we're advantageously priced. We're one of the few AAA-rated institutions in the capital markets at the moment, so we can access money at very modest terms. We make a modest return that leaves us with a loan interest rate which we like to pass on to the people actually investing in the asset, rather than leave it with middlemen. It's a stimulus to them as well - that's another difference.
"A third difference is these framework loans can be used in comparatively big investments, sometimes over Euro50m. When that's the case, we exercise a little bit of decision-making control with a trusted intermediary.
"Another thing we started doing is to become an investor in renewables equity funds, providing third-party equity to investors. We're basically assuming an equity risk. This isn't something we would have done a few years ago."

What rates do you offer?

"It varies according to the level of risk. For example, the three banks in the UK are quite low risk. We borrow money from the markets so we know what we pay to get hold of it, and we know our overhead is about 13bp and simply add that on, and that's what the customer gets it for. That's the risk-free scenario.
"At the other end, we have the case of lending on risk to something like Belwind. That's partly guaranteed by the Danish export credit, but the other half was on risk. That's a considerable risk because the risk starts during construction, and construction of offshore windfarms is still as much an artform as a science. The margins there are clearly much higher. The commercial margins at the time were around 300bp, which is high. They have since come down to something resembling normality. We were not up there with the others. We were typically in a project finance transaction bringing a financing advantage of 50-100bp.
"There was a time when commercial lenders didn't welcome that because they said it was putting pressure on their margins. But we don't compete on price. We have a very mechanistic process for setting price. It's not an opportunistic thing."

Developers I've spoken to say the current commercial rate is around 250bp and up - is that right?

"Maybe closer to 200 on less risk than offshore, such as PV farms with a good feed-in tariff and government support. You're basically talking about sovereign risk."

What demand you seeing from renewables developers?

"Stratospheric. There are several drivers. The positive drivers are the fact that most governments in Europe have put their weight behind the development of renewables - Germany, Spain, Belgium and France have got rather solid policies in place for some years, and those are countries where we've been very busy. In the UK, it's only now that the volume of investment is beginning to rise.
"The negative driver is the problem of the credit markets. All of a sudden, we've had this dramatic reduction of capacity in the finance markets, and the number of people active in project finance dropped from about 60 to 30 among European banks. Globally, the money there was then halved.
"Under these circumstances, people started looking under all the stones to see where they might find a bit of credit. Because we have substantially increased our volume in the renewables sector, which is a policy-driven thing, people have become more aware that we are anxious to be active in this space. There's been an increase in awareness that's seen a big increase in approaches to us.
"People have also seen a broader appetite on our part. People have traditionally associated the EIB with being a bit old-fashioned and conservative and wanting to be fully risk-intermediated, but they've seen with Belwind that we can take a serious project risk onto our balance sheet. In the case of Belwind, we provided half the financing on a risk basis, half on guaranteed basis. We provided 50% of liquidity on a pretty large offshore windfarm - there's probably no one else around who could have done that. It's a result of that that we've picked up a couple of very flattering industry awards."

What factors make a project attractive for you?

"It's generally the policy compliance, the extent to which it fits in with what we look for in policy terms. That covers the totality of the renewables space. We're particularly keen on helping new technologies come through. The rationale is to help those technologies come down the cost curve.
"Today we've only got two industries we would consider as mature in cost terms - onshore wind and biomass. Those two probably have come down as low as they're going to get, and if they're ever going to be competitive it should be now. By the time we've made an allowance for CO2 benefits - we do apply a shadow carbon price to help us deal with that [of Euro25-30/t] - I would say those are competitive. Even PV, and solar thermal and all the marine technologies, are another matter - we're very keen to also get involved with projects and developing those new technologies and help them come down the cost curve to the point where they can be mainstream as part of a utility's asset mix.
"Another example is CCS. It's fossil fuels, but unless you're a very hardline militant ecologist, you'll realise we're not able to complete jettison fossil fuel generation.
"Because we're policy driven, even if a project is commercially attractive - for example, Italy has an extremely generous feed-in tariff at the moment - sometimes we look at a project, say an onshore windfarm where these days the economics are mature and it should be competitive, but not all windfarms are. We would say it's not economic but the investment is still being encouraged because the FIT is so generous. We would say onshore wind needs to be economic in the economic sense of the word, not just the commercial sense. If utilisation is too low, we would not support that project. We have a rule of thumb that mature technologies should produce electricity at a levelised cost over the lifetime of the project of Euro96/MWh. When you compare that to a coal plant with Euro50-60/MWh, that leaves a lot of space in.
"We've been quite cagey about biofuels. We've seen about 80 projects and got into two of them. Where they've got a role to play, the economics and interactions with the food sector need to be understood. Second generation biofuels may make more sense."

Is the renewables sector becoming more attractive to commercial lenders?

"Project finance is always attractive if the price is right. The problem hasn't been lack of interested lending institutions, so much as their inability to direct if they had no capacity to lend. They had two problems, with shortage of liquidity and their risk-bearing capacity. In both those respects, they're beginning to see the way forwards a bit more clearly, and are beginning to come back into the credit markets. Some won't be coming back, but those who did know what they were doing but were staying down for reasons on liquidity or risk capacity are more able to venture forwards.
"We never do the totality of a project. We never do more than half of total costs, and if it's on a project finance basis we'll only do half the debt. The balance is from a commercial lender alongside us."

Do you expect any changes or new trends in the coming year?

"We could begin to see a return to normality, but the normality we're going to return to is not the normality of 2007. There was clearly a bubble in the process of bursting, and we saw some complex transactions and crazy pricing.
"The normality we'll go back to may be that of three or four years ago, before the bubble got to grips. You're not going to see equity-debt ratios of 10-90, it'll be 15-85 or 20-80. You're not looking at crazy margins of the ridiculously low levels we've seen. They'll remain at a level lower than today, but the pure risk margin closer to something we were seeing three or four years ago.
"Commercial lenders under competitive pressure were going up to 18 or 20 year tenors. I don't expect to be seeing that for certain projects. You're looking at normal commercial lending tenors of 10 or 12 years. At the moment you're doing well if you can get six or seven years out of them."

What do you hope to see come out of Copenhagen? [The UN COP15 conference was ongoing at the time.]

"I hope the world makes use of institutions like the EIB. We're the biggest, and it's important people use that capacity to leverage taxpayers' money, which is going to be a scarce commodity. We also need to use the capacity in these organisations. What I want to avoid is losing the time of creating new institutions."

Monday, 25 January 2010

Clean Sweep 76

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

Bristol-based tidal power developer Marine Current Turbines has raised £3.5m in a deal led by Carbon Trust Investments. Dutch sustainability-focused VC High Tide, Nordic investor BankInvest and utility group EDF Energy also joined the round, along with private individuals.
MCT will use the funding to help deploy its SeaGen tidal turbine technology off Northern Ireland, in what it says will be the first commercial tidal energy farm in UK waters.

Domestic energy management operator PassivSystems has secured an undisclosed first round of funding from Anglo-German cleantech VC WHEB Ventures.
Based in Newbury, PassivSystems is developing a series of wireless energy monitoring and management systems for 'intelligent homes'. It plans to launch its first products early this year, and has been selected by export agency UKTI to showcase its tech at this year's Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show.

The UK's Ludgate Environmental Fund has led a Euro8.1m round in French electronics recycler Terra Nova. Other investors include Aurinvest, Lewis Group, BNP Private Equity and Finorpa.
Established in 2006, Terra Nova is building a 30,000t/a pyrolysis plant in Pas-de-Calais, to pre-treat PCBs for metal smelting. Demand for such services is driven by the European WEEE directive.

Cambridge-based solar tech developer Enecsys raised an extra £2.5m investment from Good Energies. The firm, whose micro-inverters can reduce a PV module's cost-per-watt by around a fifth, previously raised £6m in June 09. A first product announcement is expected soon.

Elsewhere in solar tech, Innovalight raised a $18m fourth round led by Singapore-based EDB Investments. Temasek subsidiary Vertex Venture Holdings also joined, alongside previous investors including Apax Partners and ARCH Venture Partners.
California-based Innovalight produces silicon-based PV cells using inkjet technology, and is aiming at conversion efficiencies of over 20%.
Canada's Morgan Solar closed its first round at $8.2m. Investors include renewables producer Iberdrola, manufacturer Nypro Inc, and US VC Turnstone Capital Management.
The Toronto firm produces concentrating PV modules based on its Light-Guide Solar Optic tech.
And according to SEC filings, well-funded 'power plastic' developer Konarka has raised an extra $23.8m from DFJ, Good Energies and 3i, while SpectraWatt, a stealthy Intel spin-out, secured an extra $12m.

In wind, California-based Nordic Windpower announced a $38m round led by Khosla Ventures. London-based Impax Asset Management also invested, alongside New Enterprise Associates, Novus Energy Partners, I2BF Management and Pulsar Energy Capital. Nordic produces two-blade turbines, based on tech developed in Sweden, which require minimal maintenance.
FloDesign Wind Turbine meanwhile raised a $34.5m second round from KPCB, Goldman Sachs, Technology Partners and VantagePoint Venture Partners. The Massachusetts firm is developing high-efficiency shrouded turbines based on established aerospace tech. Former Vesta exec Lars Anderson joins as CEO.

Electric car maker Fisker Automotive raised a hefty $115m from undisclosed private equity investors. The new round allows the California company to access some $529m of government loans. The firm has been backed in recent rounds by KPCB, Euro-US consortium Eco-Drive (Capital) Partners and a Qatari consortium.
Fisker also announced a battery supply agreement with recently floated A123 Systems, which will also invest $23m in Fisker.
Local rivals CODA Automotive meanwhile raised a $25m third round from Aeris Capital, to support the launch of its China-built sedan.

Electric car infrastructure group Better Place raised a whopping $350m second round led by HSBC (contributing $125m of the total). Morgan Stanley Investment Management and Lazard Asset Management also joined previous investors including VantagePoint Venture Partners.
Rather more modestly, stealthy plug-in battery developer Atieva (nowt to see at website as yet) reportedly secured an extra $7m from undisclosed sources.

Still in California, two smart grid start-ups raised modest first rounds. Residential operator EcoFactor raised $2.4m round from Claremont Creek Ventures and others. Rather than installing a 'smart meter', EcoFactor uses a wireless thermostat to send data over a home's existing DSL or cable connection.
And Lucid Design Group raised $1.5m from Dry Creek Ventures and others, to roll out its 'Building Dashboard' system.
Also in the same space, Canada's Ecobee raised $6.7m from the Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund, JLA Ventures and Tech Capital Partners for its smart thermostats.
And Tantalus of North Carolina raised a $14m round led by Redpoint Ventures for its utility-focused wireless communications tech.

Canadian 'smart windows' developer Switch Materials closed a $7.5m second round led by the Business Development Bank of Canada. Switch uses proprietary organic molecules to control the light passing through its glass.

Water purification company HaloSource raised $10m from new international investors including Singapore's Prime Partners Asia Merchant Capital. The Washington-based firm has established partnerships in India, China and Brazil to distribute its point-of-use filtration systems.

And green chemistry firm Segetis closed its second round at $17.2m. Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund led the round, with DSM Venturing and original investor Khosla Ventures also participating.
Minnesota-based Segetis produces novel polymer precursors from levulinic acid esters and bio-based hydroxyl compounds, replacing petrochemicals in range of applications.

Fund news
Masdar of Abu Dhabi and Deutsche Bank have launched their DB Masdar Clean Tech Fund with a first close of $265m (including $50m from Siemens Venture Capital. The fund will focus on expansion and later-stage companies in clean energy, environmental resources and material efficiency, with investment teams based in London, New York and Abu Dhabi.

Further reading
First year-end figures from Greentech Media show the second best year ever for green VC, with $4.85 billion in 356 deals.
The Cleantech Group concurs with the second-best judgement, counting $5.6bn in 557 deals.

Friday, 8 January 2010

UK offshore wind developers named

The Crown Estate, which 'owns' the seabed around the UK, has named developers for the latest round of offshore wind power development. The nine development zones and successful bidders are:
Moray Firth Zone, Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd which is 75% owned by EDP Renovaveis and 25% owned by SeaEnergy Renewables – 1.3 GW
Firth of Forth Zone, SeaGreen Wind Energy Ltd equally owned by SSE Renewables and Fluor – 3.5 GW
Dogger Bank Zone, the Forewind Consortium equally owned by each of SSE Renewables, RWE Npower Renewables, Statoil and Statkraft – 9 GW
Hornsea Zone, Siemens Project Ventures and Mainstream Renewable Power, a consortium equally owned by Mainstream Renewable Power and Siemens Project Ventures and involving Hochtief Construction – 4 GW
Norfolk Bank Zone, East Anglia Offshore Wind Ltd equally owned by Scottish Power Renewables and Vattenfall Vindkraft – 7.2 GW
Hastings Zone, Eon Climate and Renewables UK – 0.6 GW
West of Isle of Wight Zone, Eneco New Energy – 0.9 GW
Bristol Channel Zone, RWE Npower Renewables, the UK subsidiary of RWE Innogy – 1.5 GW
Irish Sea Zone, Centrica Renewable Energy and involving RES Group – 4.2 GW
Full details here.

This is the third round of the Crown Estate's rolling programme of developing its offshore wind potential. With 32GW of potential capacity, these developments could supply a quarter of the UK's total electricity demand by 2020. Currently, the UK has just 700MW of offshore turbines installed, with c1.2GW under construction and 3.5GW in planning.

The total working capacity that might emerge from today's appointments is far from certain, though - the bulk of developments will depend on deepwater installations at an unprecedented scale. But at the least, it presents a huge market for an array of technologies required to build, install and maintain the turbines and supporting infrastructure. The Crown Estate will be hosting a series of supply chain events across the UK over the next few months.

In related grid news, the Beauly Denny power line upgrade was finally approved this week. It's generally reckoned as necessary infrastructure to unlock offshore wind in the North Sea, although the chosen pylon route isn't universally popular.