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.