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Whistling past the graveyard

Rob Day: February 10, 2009, 10:56 AM
Happened upon a very sobering account of the economic crisis today on PoliticalWire, well worth reading:
On C-Span, Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) explained how the Federal Reserve told members of Congress about an electronic run on the banks "to the tune of $550 billion dollars" within "an hour or two" last fall. According to Kanjorski, on September 18, 2008 the Fed tried to "stem the tide" by pumping money into the financial system but it didn't work and decided instead to announce an immediate increase in deposit insurance to $250,000 per account to stop the panic. Said Kanjorski: "If they had not done that, their estimation is that by 2 p.m. that afternoon, $5.5 trillion would have been drawn out of the money market system of the U.S., would have collapsed the entire economy of the U.S., and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed. It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it."
And then there's this (admittedly simplistic) argument from that the economic recovery won't be quick... So with that unhappy news in mind, let's celebrate the cleantech venture deals that have been announced recently:
  • How did I forget to mention this one???  Luca Technologies raised a $75.9mm Series C led by JP Morgan's One Equity Partners and Kleiner's Green Growth Fund.  ASF Group and Oxford Bioscience Partners also participated in the round, which appears to have been done at around a $175mm pre-money.  The deal was done a while back...
  • Israel-based AORA has raised a $5mm Series A led by EZKlein Partners and including L&Q Solar.  The money will be used to commission a hybrid solar thermal gas-fired generation installation.
  • Sweden's Xylophane has raised a $4.3mm round of financing to support biopolymer manufacturing.  New investors SEB Venture Capital and Capricorn Venture Partners from Belgium, via its Cleantech Fund, joined existing investors KTH Chalmers Capital and Innovationsbron together with Hans and Ingrid Wallstén in the round.
  • Israel's BrightView, a solar PV startup, has raised a $6mm Series A co-led by Israel Cleantech Ventures and Hasso Plattner Ventures.
  • VentureWire reported that stealthy carbon sequestration startup C12 Energy has raised $4.5mm in venture financing, reportedly from Sequoia and possibly others.
  • PE Week Wire reported today that SolFocus has raised $19.28mm in additional Series C financing, bringing to total to nearly $67mm.  Investors include Apex Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates and NGEN Partners.
  • VentureWire reported last week that Seven Seas Water has taken in a $15mm insider round.
  • PEWW (I guess soon to be called PE Hub Wire) also reported that EV and hybrid vehicle developer Bright Automotive has raised $11mm of a targeted $17mm Series A, with White Pines Partners and Duke Investments participating in the raise.  (I think VWire may have actually had the scoop here, I can't keep track)
  • VWire also reported that Pump Engineering, a desalination pumps/etc. vendor, took in an undisclosed amount of equity financing from Plymouth Management Co.
Other news and notes:  Here's a good overview of the launch of REBN's newest chapter, in Philly... A good profile of Reed Benet, the new head of the Austin Technology Incubator...  The New England Clean Energy Council's very good Fellowship Program is rounding up new recruits -- get your applications in!...  Cleantech at TED...  Go get'em, ultracap innovators!...  Steorn is back -- with proof...  Carbon credits for buying biofuels...  Finally, get ready to hear me beat the drum again and again in favor of energy efficiency and smart grid in 2009 (as if I hadn't been doing that already for the past 5 years or so).

Two great links

Rob Day: February 10, 2009, 4:53 AM
If you want to get a great download of data on water trends and challenges, it's worth spending a few minutes watching Prof. Hermanowicz's presentation here. And if you want to understand why it's a bit misguided to say that cleantech as a whole is unattractive in a low oil price environment, see the below oldie-but-a-goodie chart.  And notice how little oil goes into any energy consumption outside of transportation.  (It's also always fun to note how much "Lost energy" there is in the system)  Yes, there are linkages to pricing throughout the system, but despite what the TV may tell you, oil isn't the only price-setter in the energy world.