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.