There's been some talk about the lack of enthusiasm for VC investment in greentech -- how Groupon and cloud-based IT are cooler than greentech and the such.
One, that's just not true and two, greentech investment can change the world while most Groupon customers are the kind of customers that businesses don't want. But that's another story.
The fact is that greentech VC is on an absolute roll. The following list covers March VC deals and it's amazing. In just one month there were more than 40 deals and more than $900 million was invested in every greentech sector from smart grid to solar to biofuels. More importantly, VCs are investing in non-obvious sectors like green chemicals and green agriculture. There were a number of seed-stage and early-stage financings. There was even a flurry of VC funding for greentech companies in New England.
I'll be taking a closer look at VC investments in the first quarter but at first glance -- it looks to be one of the biggest if not the biggest quarters in greentech VC on record.
Here's the list of March VC investments:
VC Investments in Solar
BrightSource Energy (Oakland, Calif.) raised a $201 million Round E for its Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technology and deployment -- bringing its total funding to more than $530 million in private equity. That funding is in addition to a federal loan guarantee of $1.3 billlion. The investors include Alstom, a French power plant player as well as the usual suspects -- Vantage Point Venture Partners, Alstom, CalSTRS, DFJ, DBL Investors, Chevron Technology Ventures, and BP Technology Ventures, together with new investors with assistance from Advanced Equities. VentureWire reports that the latest round values the company in excess of $700 million.
Alta Devices (Santa Clara, Calif.), a developer of GaAs-based thin film photovoltaics raised $72 million from August Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Crosslink Capital, DAG Ventures, New Enterprise Associates , Presidio Ventures, Technology Partners, Dow Chemical and new investor Alberta Investment Management Corporation, Good Energies, Energy Technology Ventures, and Constellation Energy.
Cima Nanotech (Israel), a developer of nano conductive coatings for solar and greentech applications, won $15 million from undisclosed investors.
Solopower (San Jose, Calif.), a maker of CIGS-based flexible photovoltaic panels raised a $13.5 million round E from Hudson Clean Energy Partners. In February the firm received a conditional $197 million loan guarantee from the DOE to build a manufacturing plant in Wilsonville, Oregon.
1366 Technologies (North Lexington, Mass.) received an $8.4 million extension of its $20 million round from GE Energy Financial Services, VantagePoint Venture Partners, and Hanwha Chemical -- bringing its total VC funding to-date to $46 million. 1366 makes poly-crystalline silicon wafers directly from molten silicon, eliminating the traditional sawing process.
Exergetic Energy (Detroit, Michigan), an energy supply company developing a 1.5 megawatt solar farm, has closed a $10 million equity financing agreement from Auctus Private Equity. The firm is traded on the pink sheets under symbol XNGR.
Novatec Solar (Karlsruhe, Germany) received an undisclosed investment from ABB for its CSP technology.
VC Investments in Fuel Cells
ACAL Energy (Runcorn, England), building hydrogen-powered fuel cells that don't require a platinum catalyst, raised $1.6 million from The Carbon Trust.
ClearEdge Power (Hillsboro, Oregon) raised $3M for its natural gas-powered combined heat and power (CHP) fuel cells. Previous investors in ClearEdge include Applied Ventures, Big Basin Ventures and Kohlberg Ventures.
Encite (Burlington, Mass.), a stealthy fuel cell startup raised $650,000. A patent application shows a method of forming a fuel cell on a substrate, and then forming electronics on the substrate.
VC Investments in Engine Technology
Rypos (Holliston, Mass.) a maker of filter technology for actively reducing diesel vehicle emissions, received a $3.15 million Round B from Craton Equity Partners, et al.
Pinnacle (San Carlos, Calif.) unstealthed with a $13.5 million round from NEA, Besssemer, and Infield Capital for efficient engines based on a four-stroke, spark-ignited, opposed-piston architecture.
VC Investments in Biofuels
Plasco Energy Group (Ottawa, Ontario), a converter of MSW into renewable energy, raised $145 million in equity funding led by Soros Fund Management.
Harvest Power (Waltham, Mass.), a developer of renewable energy and fertilizer products from organic waste, raised a $51.7 million round B from Generation Investment Management, DAG Ventures, Keating Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Waste Management, Munich Venture Partners, and TriplePoint Capital. Harvest Power, which says it is profitable, recently broke ground on its first commercial-scale facility in North America.
CoolPlanetBiofuels (Camarillo, Calif.), a maker of fuel from grass, woodchips, non-food crops, and farm waste raised $20 million from Google Ventures, Energy Technology Ventures, and North Bridge Venture Partners.
Solix Biofuels (Fort Collins, Colorado) raised $16 million in an inside Round B from Bohemian Ventures, The Southern Ute Alternative Energy Fund, and I2BF Global Ventures for the firm's photobioreactor-based algae growth system. Previous investors Valero, Shanghai Alliance Investment and Infield Capital were not on the announced list of investors.
AE Biofuels (Cupertino, California), commercializing next-generation cellulosic ethanol technology, closed a $3.5 million financing with Third Eye Capital Corporation to restart and operate a 55 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Keyes, California. AE Keyes took possession of the facility under a project agreement with Cilion in 2010. AEB is traded on the OTC pink sheets inder the symbol AEBF.
Sapphire Energy (Sonoma, Calif.), producing crude oil from algae, raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Monsanto. Sapphire has raised over $100 million in VC funding from Arch Venture Partners, Venrock, and the Wellcome Trust.
Novogy (Cambridge, Mass.), a developer of cellulosic fuel technology, raised $750,000 from General Catalyst, et al. The team is made up of ex-Mascoma staffers and is focused on waste-paper sludge as a feedstock.
Greenleaf Biofuels (Guilford,Conn.) received $150,000 in seed-funding from Advantage Capital Partners and Ironwood Capital. The firm is a New England-based biodiesel distributor.
VC Investments in Green Buildings
DIRTT Environmental Solutions, (Calgary, Alberta), a provider of green building solutions such as modular interior walls raised $22 million led by Expansion Capital Partners with NGEN Partners, Apex Venture Partners, Export Development Canada, and North Sky Capital.
Aircuity (Newton, Mass.), a maker of energy use sensor and control systems for air ventilation, raised $3.5 million from undisclosed investors.
VC Investments in Water
ET Water (Novato, Calif.) raised a $2 million round C for efficient irrigation management systems for commercial and municipal applications.
Footways (France), a software-based water contamination risk assessor, raised a $1.4 million round A from Seventure Partners and Sofimac Partners.
VC Investments in Green Agriculture
WeatherBill (San Francisco, Calif.), a weather insurance company that uses a technology platform to reduce risk in agriculture and protect farmers against the financial impact of crop loss, raised $42 million from Google Ventures, Khosla Ventures, NEA, et al.
AgraQuest (Davis, Calif.), a developer of biopesticides and low-chem technologies for sustainable agriculture, raised $17.7 million from Generation Investment Management and Otter Capital.
Yulex (Maricopa, Arizona) received a $15 million placement from Argonaut Private Equity for its natural rubber latex alternative. Yulex uses crop science to create medical and biobased industrial products from guayule, a plant native to the southwestern U.S.
Holganix (Glen Mills, Penn.) received $250,000 from Ben Franklin Technology Partners for chemical-light fertilizers for lawns and trees.
VC Investments in Green Transportation
Smith Electric Vehicles (Kansas City, Missouri), a maker of battery-powered electric trucks, raised $58 million from unidentified investors.
Zero Motorcycles (Scotts Valley, Calif.), a manufacturer of electric motorcycles, raised $26 million from Invus LP, et al.
VIA Motors (Orem, Utah), a maker of electric trucks and SUVs, raised $5.3 million of a targeted $10 million, from undisclosed investors.
VC Investments in Smart Grid
Powerit Solutions (Seattle, Wash.), focused on automated demand management for the enterprise, raised $5 million led by Black Coral Capital.
Grid2Home (San Diego, Calif.), a provider of smart grid connectivity communications software raised a $2.6 million Round B from Granite Ventures.
VC Investments in Energy Efficiency
Retroficiency (Boston, Mass.), a developer of energy auditing software for commercial buildings, raised $800,000 from World Energy Solutions.
VC Investment in Green Chemicals
Genomatica (San Diego, Calif.) received $45 miilion from Waste Management, RU-Com, and VantagePoint Venture Partners for its genetically modified microbes capable of producing industrial chemicals typically produced from petroleum and energy-intensive processes. The firm has created a biological version of BDO, a major industrial chemical, and last month announced an alliance with Waste Management to create microbes that can turn landfill materials into industrial chemicals.
Agilyx (Tigard, Oregon) received a $22 million round B led by Kleiner Perkins with Chrysalix Energy, Waste Management (NYSE: WM), and Total Energy Ventures International (NYSE: TOT). Agilyx can convert waste plastic into synthetic crude oil.
Green EnviroTech (Riverbank, Calif.) a plastics recovery, separation, and recycling firm, won a $5 million investment from Centurion Private Equity.
VC Investment in Energy Storage
SustainX (West Lebanon, New Hampshire), a developer of utility-scale energy storage using above-ground compressed air in vessels, raised $14.4 million from GE Energy Financial Services, Cadent Energy Partners, Polaris Ventures, and Rockport Capital -- bringing its VC total to about $25 million.
Amprius (Menlo Park, Calif.), developing silicon nanowire-based electrode technology for next-generation lithium-ion batteries raised $25 million from IPV Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Qian Neng Fund, Trident Capital, VantagePoint Venture Partners, Eric Schmidt, and Stanford University. www.amprius.com
Unipower Battery (China) received $15 million from Origo Partners for large polymer batteries for electric vehicles and high-capacity storage.
Miscellaneous Greentech VC Investments
Intermolecular (San Jose, Calif.), accelerating greentech and semiconductor process development through combinatorial chemistry, raised $15 million out of a potential $25 million round. Existing investors include CMEA Ventures, US Venture Partners, and Redpoint Ventures.
Columbia Power Technologies (Corvallis, Oregon) secured undisclosed funding for its wave energy device.