Friday, January 26, 2007

Way behind

Apologies to those who regularly check this site for news and updates on the industry (and there are more of you than I ever would have expected...). A major relocation is always tough, and being without internet access for several days makes things like blogging that much tougher. Nevertheless, greetings now from (VERY) chilly Boston -- and hopefully we'll be able to be more timely and active going forward.

So, here are more than a week's worth of items and thoughts in rapid-fire fashion, in hopes of somewhat catching up:

1. Battery developer A123 announced a $40mm round of financing, with GE Commercial Finance leading the round and P&G (makers of Duracell batteries) also involved, along with existing investors (including Alliance Capital, FA Technology Ventures, North Bridge Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, OnPoint, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Motorola, Qualcomm, and A123Systems Chairman Desh Deshpande). This fourth round of financing brings the company's total venture funding up to $102mm. More info is found here and here.

2. German solar cell company Sulfurcell has received a new round of financing (amount undisclosed) from the Masdar Clean Tech Fund and existing investors. The company claims efficiencies of 7.5% on their product, and they aim to quintuple production capacity by 2009 and to increase efficiencies to 9%.

3. Waste gassification tech developer Nexterra has raised a C$6.8mm third round of financing led by ARC Financial Corp. The round brings total investment in the company up to C$16.6mm. The company has completed their first commercial facility.

4. Canadian solar PV company Day4 received a C$11mm round of financing, with existing investor British Columbia Discovery Fund taking part. VentureWire reported that the deal was led by Goodwood Capital Fund.

5. Cleantech investors in the news: Israel Cleantech Ventures has reportedly made a first closing at $15-25mm. John Balbach has joined the Cleantech Group as a Managing Partner. And here are Vinod's bold predictions for 2007 (including predictions on Supreme Court rulings, among other topics)...

6. More solar financings: Organic PV developer Plextronics has raised $750k from the Sustainable Energy Fund of Central Eastern Pennsylvania ("The SEF"). The company raised a $13.1mm Series A in the fall of last year.

7. A wonderful example over the last couple of weeks about how simple news items can be covered in widely divergent ways: See here and here. Of course, then there's this further indication of the overall annual growth in clean energy financing. So what's going on, has there been a big pull-back, or even a "correction" in cleantech venture investing? Or is the unprecedented growth still underway? Observant readers are undoubtedly ignoring the hyperbole on both sides -- reporters and PR folks have a way of making things "newsworthy" when the basic reality is that (as we discussed just last week) a few mega-deals drove total tracked dollar amounts up dramatically last year, but the underlying trend has (so far) pointed toward continued growth in investor interest in the sector. "An underlying positive trend in dealflow" is not really a newsworthy description, unfortunately, so the dollars grab the headlines. But cleantech investors will be paying more attention to the number of deals done, rather than the total investment sums, when there are so many quasi-VC/quasi-project-finance deals skewing the dollar amounts each quarter. Of course, we still expect to see total cleantech VC dollar amounts go down in 2007 -- but overall dealflow is more of an open question. Stay tuned...

9. Jet-lagged cleantech investors around the world: Cleantech investing is on the rise in China, and Europe continues to be attractive -- although the European automated meter reading market isn't looking good... or is it? Meanwhile, the anti-ethanol pro-tortilla lobby has made inroads in Mexico.

Other news and notes: The public sentiment is clear, but the SOTU wasn't. The impacts on cleantech investments won't be nearly so clear-cut as they were from last year's speech, but clearly ethanol and other alternative fuels and fuel efficiency technologies are looking up, politics-wise... Finally, a nice take on "why now?" by Neal Dikeman.


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