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Newsweek’s Eco-Friendly Companies, plus Aerogel Composite and P21

Rob Day: November 29, 2005, 2:56 PM
  • In case you missed it last week, here are Newsweek's profiles of "Ten Eco-Friendly Companies," many of which will be pretty familiar to regular readers of this site.
  • Germany's P21, which is developing stationary fuel cells, announced a 5M euro raise from existing investors Target Partners, Conduit Ventures, and Tech Fund Capital Europe. There appears to be room for a similar...

Random articles on alternative energy

Rob Day: November 29, 2005, 2:01 PM
Below are some links to articles that have come along in the past few weeks:
  • Red Herring had a couple of good surveys of flywheels and fuel cells. Interesting quote from the latter article: "While the technology might still be shaky, its promise is certainly large enough to be worth pursuing, even if early adopters have to endure a few moments of shaking, tapping, and cursing." Fuel cells, of course, continue to have their critics.
  • Stirling Energy Systems has been in the news a bit lately. Here's the latest such mention. It's a different take on solar from what you might usually picture -- far different from panels on rooftops.

Bill Gates invests in Pacific Ethanol

Rob Day: November 29, 2005, 1:36 PM
Pacific Ethanol, which is building a series of ethanol plants in the west coast region, announced an $84M investment by Cascade Investment, LLC (note: opens PDF), which is owned by William H. Gates III.

Pacific Ethanol, which is publicly traded (Nasdaq: PEIX), is building sites in the west coast to try to capture first-mover advantage in building out ethanol production capacity in what they see as an untapped region. This points to the fact that much of ethanol production (and biofuel production in general) is a very well-understood, mature process, so the competitive advantages for winning players are more likely to be due to location, feedstock costs, financial engineering,...

Gridpoint has $9M reasons to give thanks

Rob Day: November 27, 2005, 2:42 PM
According to yesterday's Washington Post, Gridpoint Inc., which sells computerized power backup systems, raised a $9M round Series A recently. The article mentions that "a few" venture capital firms including Advantage Capital Partners participated in the round, but that most of the round was raised from individual investors. There are a number of other interesting details as well:
  • Gridpoint is raising another $6M in addition to the current round, to "increase production" and increase headquarters staff
  • Revenues for 2006 are anticipated to be $10M, off of 2,000 units sold
  • The appliance is about the size of a refrigerator, costs $6-16k (based upon the above revenue...

Coaltek’s $7.7M Series A, and other items of note

Rob Day: November 21, 2005, 11:16 PM
  • PE Week Wire revealed today that Coaltek has raised an approx. $7.7M Series A from funders including Technology Partners, DFJ, Braemar Energy Ventures, and Warburg Pincus. Coaltek's proprietary treatment process for coal allows dirtier Western coal to much more closely resemble Eastern coal, providing economic and pollution benefits. We last saw Coaltek at the spring Cleantech Venture Forum, where the clean technology implications of such "incremental technologies" were debated (scroll down to "Alternative Fuels" to read about it).
  • Can't link to it, but if you get the chance, see the WSJ's column today on "Where the Bets Are," which describes where VCs are shifting their...

SunPower’s IPO, silicon supply, and cleantech investing

Rob Day: November 17, 2005, 10:05 PM
The long-anticipated IPO of SunPower happened today, and it shot up more than 40% in one day.

This will undoubtedly bring even more mainstream VC attention to the clean energy market in general, and solar energy in particular. After all, SunPower, with annualized revenues of around $65M, now carries a market cap of $1.5B -- even if that valuation goes down over time as the euphoria wears off, that kind of "pop" will get any investor's attention.

SunPower is certainly a great example of the business opportunity presented by the rapidly-growing solar market. According to Solar Buzz, for instance, solar installations grew 62% from 2003 to 2004, and by all reports the industry has...

Tuesday deals and other notes

Rob Day: November 15, 2005, 9:10 PM
  • Last week, Solar Integrated Technologies announced they raised a $37M private placement of 6.5% 2010 convertible notes. Goldman Sachs and Crestview Capital participated. SIT is developing building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) systems, which many point to as the future format for solar power -- the thinking being that BIPV can lead to lower PV system costs by helping to reduce the costs of system installation (a significant portion of the total system costs), if the right form function can be developed. SIT is traded on the AIM.