The economy was already soft before Lehman Brothers Holdings Co. and other investment houses crashed. Yet venture capitalists have continued to pump in record amounts of money into greentech companies.
The latest Venture Power Report by Greentech Media showed VCs invested $2.8 billion in the third quarter, the largest quarterly total since the report started publishing in 2004 (see Greentech Investments See Record 3Q).
Solar companies attracted the most investments, raising $1.5 billion for the third quarter, more than the $1.05 billion for the entire years' worth of solar deals in 2007.
With the U.S. government finalizing extending solar investment-tax credits by eight years, VCs are likely to continue their bets on solar companies.
In recent funding news:
- Ausra raised $60.6 million to complete a 5-megawatt solar-power plant in central California and to continue its research and development of solar-thermal technology (see Ausra Bags $60.6M to Finish Plant). The Palo Alto, Calif., company is developing a 177-megawatt power plant in California as part of a deal to sell power to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Investors include KERN Partners, Generation Investment Management, Starfish Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Ausra received "more than $40 million" from Khosla and Kleiner last year (see Ausra Raises $40M from Concentrating Solar-Thermal).
- Solar Power Partners has raised $100 million in equity and debt financing to fund solar installations and other company operations. The company, based in Mill Valley, Calif., expects to receive an additional $60 million for project financing by the end of the year. Solar Power installs and operates solar-power systems in exchange for long-term power-purchase agreements from businesses, schools and other organizations. Investors included United Commercial Bank, Globespan Capital Partners, The Enlightened World Foundation, Carrelton Asset Management, Dry Creek Ventures, Silicon Valley Technology Group and Energy Investors Fund.
- Promethean Power Systems raised undisclosed angel funding from Quercus Trust. Promethean, based in Cambridge, Mass., has built its first prototype solar-powered refrigerator, reported CNET. The company will use the money to build another prototype for field testing in India next year.
- Urbasolar raised €4 million ($5.52 million) from Crédit Agricole Private Equity. France-based Urbasolar installs and operates rooftop solar power plants using amorphous thin film by Solar Integrated Technologies in Los Angeles and crystalline-silicon panels by Sharp Corp.
- EcoMotors raised $5.25 million from Khosla Ventures, reported Private Equity Hub. Troy, Mich.-based EcoMotors is developing fuel-efficient diesel engines.
- Magnomatics raised £500,000 ($884,000) for developing gearboxes, motors and generators that could be used to build hybrid cars and wind turbines. Investors include White Rose Technology Seedcorn Fund and Fusion IP. Magnomatics was spun off from the University of Sheffield.
- Redwood Systems Inc. raised $4 million in Series A from Battery Ventures and U.S. Venture Partners for developing energy conservation products to popularize LED lighting in commercial buildings, reported Private Equity Hub and VentureBeat. The Danville, Calif., company is run by former Cisco executive Dave Leonard.
- ICQ Group, an Italian renewable-energy company, will get €20.5 million ($28.31 million) from Ambienta SGR in exchange for a 15.4 percent stake in the company. Ambienta could invest an additional €20 million ($27.62 million) to increase its stake in ICQ to 26.5 percent. ICQ operates wind farms, hydroelectric plants and biogas plants.
- MyFC raised $3.4 million to commercialize its fuel-cell technology for portable consumer electronics. The Swedish company received the funding from AP6, KTH Chalmers Capital and Sting Capital.
- Schott Solar decided to extend the deadline to subscribe to shares from its initial public offering from Oct. 1 to Oct. 8. The Germany company has gone back and forth about what to do with the €656.6 million ($960.6 million) IPO, which it announced before the fall of Lehman Brothers and other U.S. financial institutions sent negative ripple effects across worldwide markets. Schott initially postponed the IPO, then changed its mind a week later, when it announced the shares' price range and declared that the share-subscription period would end on Oct. 1. The stock would be traded on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
- EDF Energies Nouvelles, a subsidiary of the French utility ED Group, has raised €500 million ($725.9 million) to expand its solar business, reported SustainableBusiness.com. The company launched its fund raising earlier this month by selling new shares at €32.20 ($44.6) per share. Shareholders can buy each new share for four existing shares.
- BYD Co. has agreed to sell a 10 percent stake, or 225 million shares, to MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., a subsidiary of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. BYD, a Chinese maker of batteries and cars, will receive $230 million. A MidAmerican executive said his company is interested in BYD's batteries for wind- and solar-power storage (see Buffett Invests $230M in BYD).
- Inspired Evolution Investment Management launched a cleantech fund with 400 million South African rand ($48.1 million). The firm plans to spread the money in renewable energy and clean air and water projects across southern Africa. Inspired closed the round in July, with funding from International Finance Corp. (part of the World Bank Group), Castleway Properties, the Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets and the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation. Inspired said it plans to increase the fund to 1 billion rand ($120.21 million) (see South African Cleantech Fund Raises ZAR$400M).