Saturday, April 22, 2006

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day, everyone. It's a good day to sit back and enjoy some of the latest stories of interest to come across the wires, starting with a couple of recent deals to note:
  • Targeted Growth, a Seattle bioagricultural company that is developing "gene enhancements" that increase yields for various biofuel crops, has apparently raised $10mm recently, according to this column. The total investment in the company to date is $15mm, and among the investors so far are Investment Saskatchewan and GrowthWorks. Increasing yields by 20%, as is talked about by the company, would significantly improve costs for biofuels.
  • Ocean Power Delivery, a Scottish wave-power technology developer, has raised a $22.5mm round of funding, according to a GE press release (cited on Clean Edge). GE is providing a $2.6mm debt facility and taking an undisclosed amount of equity. OPD is currently delivering machinery for their first commercial contract, in Portugal. Interestingly, this deal also marks another example of GE Technology Lending beginning to take equity stakes again -- thanks to their Ecomagination effort, this trend of venture-stage equity investments would bring GE into the "cleantech VC" club.
  • While we're looking internationally, here's a good article on the growth of cleantech VC and private equity activity in India.
  • Red Herring posted an article recently which cited a study calling into question clean energy technologies on the basis of energy price volatility being lower (relative to some other commodities) than one might have expected. It's good to get away from some of the hype about energy prices -- the effect of oil prices on the market attractiveness of electricity-generating clean technologies, for example, tends to be a bit overstated in the press. However, a few quick thoughts on this study: a) the authors admit that their historical analysis may not have any bearing at all on future volatility; b) the authors also admit that volatility in energy prices may have more relative impact than volatility in other commodities because consumers are more exposed to it (and, I would add, it's probably a bigger part of the overall consumption basket than some of these other unnamed commodities); and finally c) as we've pointed out before, some researchers actually think that prolonged exposure to steady high prices, rather than exposure to price volatility, will force the greatest rate of change. So take this Red Herring article with a grain of salt...


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