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São Paulo Dispatch: Verde é Verde

Daniel Englander: March 28, 2008, 5:04 AM
Neal Dikeman and I aren't the only ones who think General Electric is the unsung leader of greentech. This week's issue of Exame, a leading Brazilian business magazine, featured a number of stories on A Economia Verde, including one that proclaimed GE CEO Jeff Immelt to be "o executivo mais verde do mundo." According to the article, Immelt's ongoing investments and acquisitions in the sector have started paying off, so that "o green está começando a se transformar em green." What's interesting about GE's approach, compared to the startups and new ventures we tend to cover at GTM, is that GE has largely gone through its greentech transition without reinventing the wheel....

The Morning Feedstock

Daniel Englander: March 28, 2008, 3:44 AM
The California Air Resources Board has gone ahead with cuts to its zero-emissions vehicle mandate, though the reductions were less than expected. Initially CARB planned to cut its 75,000 ZEV mandate to 27,500 vehicles produced between 2012 and 2017. Under the new mandate, the seven largest automakers were granted a reprieve from producing 25,000 ZEVs between 2012 and 2014, with CARB reducing that target to 7,500 fuel cell vehicles or 12,500 electric vehicles. CARB has also up its mandate for low-emissions plug-in hybrids to 58,000 by 2014. The new mandates are expected to cost automakers $1 billion a year, down from the estimated $2 billion a year under the previous order. In related...

The Morning Feedstock

Daniel Englander: March 27, 2008, 3:33 AM
A mercantile court in Bilbão has ordered EdF to declare if it has begun or will begin an acquisition of Iberdrola. The court also demanded to know whether EdF plans to carry out the acquisition by itself or with a partner, like Iberdrola's main shareholder ACS, and if it planned to break up the Spanish utility. EdF has five days to answer the court. In a separate action, Iberdrola has asked Spanish energy regulator CNE to reverse its decision allowing ACS to buy a bigger stake in the embattled power producer. If ACS is able to increase its voting stock above 10 percent, Iberdrola would be powerless in fending off a takeover bid from ACS and EdF. Iberdrola isn't the only utility...

São Paulo Dispatch: Ethanol for the Masses

Daniel Englander: March 26, 2008, 10:12 AM
Every taxi in São Paulo runs on alcool (ethanol), and it's got nothing to do with a government mandate. In fact, taxi's are exempted from São Paulo's rodizio - the city's weekly driving ban aimed at fighting congestion and pollution. The cabbies I've talked with have also dispelled any lofty notion about driving on ethanol for the sake of limiting environmental degradation. Their's are the same reasons why taxi drivers in Boston line up at midnight at the gas station on Memorial Drive near the MicroCenter in Cambridge: the fuel is cheap and available compared to other sources. Ethanol in São Paulo (and all over Brazil) is roughly R$1 cheaper than gasoline and is available at...

The Morning Feedstock

Daniel Englander: March 26, 2008, 3:32 AM
3i, Europe's largest venture capital firm, has announced it will abandon its early stage venture operations. In 2000 3i's venture portfolio covered 750 investments worth $4.8 billion. However, the tech crash later that year forced 3i to write down close to $2 billion. By September 2007 the company's overall venture investment had fallen to roughly $1.4 billion, with new investments totaling $130 million during the first six months of 2007, or five percent of its total investments. A 3i spokeswoman said the company is "recognising the opportunity in growth capital and later stage investing." 3i has previously invested in greentech companies like Konarka, EnOcean, PelamisWave,...

Another One (Two?) Bites the Dust

Daniel Englander: March 25, 2008, 9:15 AM
Ethanex Energy, a Kansas-based corn ethanol producer, has "ceased ongoing commercial operations" and fired nearly all of its employees. The company filed an 8-K on Monday stating "in light of its declining liquidity and its inability to obtain interim financing" Ethanex terminated its executive chairman and co-chief operating officers and that it began work "with bankruptcy counsel to prepare for a filing and anticipates filing for bankruptcy protection in the immediate future." Where did it all go wrong for Ethanex? The company formed in 2006 and issued a $20 million private placement shortly thereafter. After a successful public offering, Ethanex's shares were trading at a high of...

The Morning Feedstock

Daniel Englander: March 25, 2008, 4:20 AM
Cellulosic ethanol company Verenium may be on its way out. The company's 10-k, filed on March 17, says the company did not generate sufficient revenue to offset its CAPEX and operations. Verenium's form states "there can no assurance that we will be able to obtain any additional sources of revenue, corporate partnerships, federal and state grant or other financing on acceptable terms, or at all." If the company is "not able to reduce or defer our expenditures, secure additional sources of revenue or otherwise secure additional funding, we will be unable to continue as a going concern, and we may be forced to restructure or significantly curtail our operations, file for bankruptcy or...