Wind turbine blade maker TPI Composites has landed $20 million in a second round of funding — and one of the leading investors, GE, is also a customer.
The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company announced the funding Thursday at the Cleantech Investor Summit in Palm Springs. Investors included GE Equity and GE Energy Financial Services, Landmark Growth Capital Partners, NGP Energy Technology Partners and Angeleno Group. TPI, which started out as a fiberglass boat maker but now makes composite materials for wind power, military and transportation markets, raised $22 million in 2007.
TPI sells its wind turbine blades to GE Energy as well as to Mitsubishi Power Systems, meaning that GE knows TPI’s product, noted Raj Atluru, a managing director at Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
“It’s almost a no-brainer,??? he said of the investment. GE is an investor in several wind power-related companies as well as financing wind power projects, and estimates that wind turbine blade sales made up $2.1 billion in 2007.
TPI last year tripled its capacity at its joint venture facility with Mitsubishi Power Systems in Mexico, and opened factories in Newton, Iowa and Taicang, China under supply agreements with GE Energy.
Investing in companies with proven products and established customers could be a tempting choice in times of economic uncertainty (see VCs Predict Greentech Investment Slowdown).
“I haven’t yet seen a lot of investments like that, but I think there’s a lot of temptation for investors,??? said Matt Horton, a principal with greentech venture firm @Ventures. “Proven technologies are at a premium.???
But that doesn’t mean VCs are abandoning emerging technologies, he and Atluru said.
“General venture is still looking for significant technology advancements,??? Atluru said.