Friday, October 27, 2006
CTVN: Cleantech VC investments hit $933mm in Q3
Tellingly, more than half of the investment amount was into biofuels. This probably means that a small number of very big capacity-focused investments dominated the numbers. It will be interesting to see the number of deals that are represented when the data is available, and it would also be interesting to track median deal size and deals per quarter over time.
At this point the overall numbers are getting to be hard to compare quarter by quarter as the totals are increasingly dominated by just a handful of the total number of deals. For instance, the fact that energy investments made up $837mm of the $933mm total suggests that dealflow in other sectors such as water, materials, etc. may actually have declined from the previous quarter.
Regardless of the Q3 specifics, it's clear that 2006 remains a banner year for cleantech investing.
Other cleantech news:
- Orion Energy Systems announced they completed their Series C with a $500k investment by Custer Capital's Technology Transfer Venture Fund and Capvest Venture Fund. The round was originally led as announced earlier with a $4.5mm investment by Expansion Capital Partners (self-promotion alert).
- Altira has reportedly closed on $94mm for their next fund, according to PE Week Wire. The energy technology investment group counts Stanford, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Park Street Capital among their LPs.
Friday, October 20, 2006
87% IRRs on European cleantech venture investments?
- A very interesting study released recently by New Energy Finance, and commissioned by the European Energy Venture Fair. Looking at 57 different investments in Europe since 1999, the study calculates that VCs have achieved an 87% annual rate of return on these investments -- collectively. It's important to emphasize that last point because, as is typical for venture investments, the results are an aggregation of a very wide range of results. Eight of the investments resulted in (very successful) IPOs or trade sales, 9 had follow-on rounds that averaged to moderate up rounds, six went under, and the remaining 34 are still being carried at cost (at least as far as the study's authors know). So really, not a huge sampling of actual exits, but still, very intriguing results. As a reminder, a study of cleantech VC exits and returns was completed last year by the Cleantech Venture Network (self promotion alert: Diana Propper of Expansion Capital Partners was one of the study's co-editors), which also found competitive returns in the sector (as first described in this lengthy post).
- Sub-One Technology announced a $7mm Series B financing, led by ATV, and including existing investors Chevron Technology Ventures and ITI Energy. The company's anti-corrosive coatings help prevent failures in -- and replacement of -- energy pipelines and industrial infrastructure. The company simultaneously took in a final $1mm Series A tranche from ITI Energy as a result of earlier commitments as well.
- The next Renewable Energy Business Network event has been announced: November 2, in San Francisco, Nixon Peabody is graciously hosting a networking event, including what should be a very interesting presentation by Kurt Johnson of the California PUC: "Everything You Need to Know About California Cleantech Legislation." Space is limited, so Bay Area renewable energy professionals who are interested in attending or getting more information should contact Nick Allen.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
It's "Solar Week"
- Practical Instruments raised an $8mm Series A, co-led by Nth Power and RockPort, and also including Trinity Ventures and Rincon Venture Partners. Matt Marshall has a nice overview of the company here. The company's founders originally came out of Energy Innovations, another high-profile solar concentrator startup.
- It's interesting to note that Moser Baer has been actively jumping into solar. Witness the recent announcements of strategic relationships with both SolFocus and Solaria (again, solar concentrator plays). As new thin-film cell technologies are released over the next few months, international contract manufacturing "Modcos" (module manufacturers) may have an important role to play in bringing these products to market as well.
- The "pain points" around financing of solar projects are getting pretty well mitigated these days, or soon will be, due to all of the various announcements like this one and the numerous solar project developer startups out there. Now, if someone could successfully address the pain points around installation costs...
- Other solar notes: No, "Google solar system" is not an add-on to Google Earth... Here's a nice column describing how current silicon shortages (which have opened up a potential window of opportunity for thin films and other alternatives) may be short-lived... Even with all the recent entrepreneurial activity in solar, new tech breakthroughs continue to be announced, the industry isn't simply in an "innovation harvesting" phase... One might have expected SunPower to take some of their capital and hedge their bets by somehow getting into thin-films and other silicon-eliminating and -minimizing alternatives (via strategic investment, perhaps), but I guess not.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Fat Spaniel and Sterecycle
- Fat Spaniel announced a subsequent $3.5mm addition into their Series A (making a total of $7mm for the round, originally announced back in April). In this second closing, Chrysalix came on board as a co-investor to DFJ Element. The company also announced moves into solar thermal and other new business efforts.
- UK-based recycler Sterecycle took in an 8mm pound financing from investors including Goldman Sachs to fund additional facilities. The company focuses on household waste.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Amyris, EnerWorks, and other news
- The latest biofuels funding announcement is Amyris Biotechnologies, which put out a release on their $20mm Series A (PE Week Wire had mentioned it back in June, when $6.5mm of the round had already been called down). Backers include Khosla Ventures, Kleiner, and the venture group of TPG. They also announced the appointment of a new CEO, and, in the words of their publicist, "a new focus for the company." There has been wide coverage of this one, including this NYT article and this column in VentureBeat (self-promotion alert).
- Tyler Hamilton points out that solar thermal system manufacturer EnerWorks has raised a $3.65mm round of financing (note: opens pdf). Chrysalix led the round, which also included Investeco Capital and existing investors Covington Venture Fund and VentureLink Brighter Futures Fund.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Catching up on the news
- VantagePoint Venture Partners announced they have raised a new fund at $1B, and plan to raise $150mm for investments in clean technologies.
- NASA has devoted $75mm to launching Red Planet Capital, which is a non-profit effort to provide venture capital for companies whose technologies are applicable for space travel. Solar PV, fuel cells, batteries, sensors, drinking water and wastewater treatment all come to mind as possibilities, as well as various advanced materials, so Red Planet is now entering the ranks of cleantech investors.
- Solar concentrator startup GreenVolts revealed that they have commitments for $250k toward a seed round. The company, which was a winner in the recent California Clean Tech Open, is currently lining up Series A investors as well.
- PE Week Wire revealed a couple of cleantech financings today, based upon regulatory filings. Wilson TurboPower, a manufacturer of heat exchange systems, has raised $2mm of an up to $3.92mm Series A -- this follows on their announcement (note: pdf) that they $815k by back in May, and now Ignite Technology Ventures is also noted as an investor. Also, PEWW notes that Makani Power LLC has raised a $10mm Series A from Google -- the company is an "alternative energy" startup out of Squid Labs.
- ICP Solar Technologies of Quebec announced a reverse-merger-go-public financing of $5mm from unnamed institutional investors, with $5mm of warrants also issued. The company will now be traded OTC. The company's customers for their thin-film solar products include automakers, notably (solar-powered Winnebagos, e.g.).
Thursday, October 05, 2006
groSolar, DeepStream announce raises
- groSolar, an installer and distributor of solar photovoltaic systems based in Vermont, announced a $2.25mm venture round led by SJF Ventures. Calvert Social Investment Fund and Allco Financial Group also participated in the round. The company is a subsidiary of GRO, formerly known as Global Resource Options. The financing is to go toward the company's national expansion plans.
- In the sensors and M2M space, DeepStream Technologies of Wales (UK) announced a ~$15mm Series B led by 3i Group plc. The company's systems are used to integrate sensors and intelligence into energy, medical and electrical appliances and equipment -- for smart building and energy management applications, for example. Existing investor Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures also participated in the round.
- Cleantech investors speaking out:
Vinod Khosla in BusinessWeek -- "We are looking more for the big breakthroughs... than the small ones in batteries."
John Doerr in Red Herring -- "'Clean tech,' as many past efforts at environmentally friendly industry have been called, hasn’t panned out from an investment standpoint, said Mr. Doerr, but 'greentech' will."
Kirk Washington at the "Investing in Clean Energy" conference -- "The elephant in the room is that a bubble gets blown up that could burst."
Peter Grubstein in SocalTech.com -- "There are more companies able to get their prototypes into customer's hands much faster, there is demand being supplied by renewable portfolio standards from states like
, and consumer awareness and corporate awareness for the first time." California
Christine Bergeron, interviewed by Cleantech Blog -- "Investors believe that above average returns can now be made in this sector."
Other items to note: A good overview of silicon and CIGS PV technologies... More cautionary words about hydrogen-fueled transportation technology... Finally, Chevron and NREL are teaming up on cellulosic biofuels.