After a busy summer of cleantech investments, VC activity seems to have slowed. Here's an article on corporate venture investing from our recent NextWave Cleantech Investing event.

Smart Grid Investments

As our own Jeff St. John reported, Varentec picked up $8 million from Bill Gates and Khosla Ventures in its B Round. Deepak Divan is the CEO of this digital power router, control and analytics software startup. Varentec has already been working in pilots with test customers, including U.S. giants Duke Energy and Southern Company.

Space-Time Insight, a startup with utility mapping and visualization software that incorporates real-time data and predictive analytics, landed a $20 million Round C. The company has been making significant inroads in North American utility markets, with customers like Southern California Edison, Hydro One, Florida Power & Light, San Diego Gas & Electric, and California’s grid operator, the California ISO. Funding came from London-based private equity fund Zouk Capital, along with previous investors Opus Capital Ventures, EnerTech Capital and Novus Energy Partners, bringing Space-Time’s total investment to date to $45 million, as reported by St. John.

Solar Investments

Sol Voltaics claims its gallium-arsenide (GaAs) nanowires can boost a 17-percent-efficientsolarmodule to 22 percent. The company just won $9.4 million led by Umoe, along with Industrifonden, Nano Future Invest, Foundation Asset Management, Provider Venture, Scatec, and Teknoinvest. Umoe's CEO Jens Ulltveit-Moe is the former chairman of REC Solar. Kang Sun, former CEO of JA Solar and current CEO of Amprius, joined the board of directors. The company has already raised $11 million from investors and claims the ability to get to full production for less than $50 million. The firm is a sister company to LED nanowire firm Glo.

Dyesol and its Dye Solar Cell (DSC) technology has a market capitalization of $86 million on the ASX and just completed due diligence with Saudi Arabian conglomerate Tasnee (National Industrialization Company of Saudi Arabia) on an additional $16 million strategic investment on top of the $4 million Tasnee invested earlier this year. According to the Saudi Gazette, "Tasnee is the second largest industrial company in Saudi Arabia and the second largest producer of titanium oxide in the world. It also owns several titanium mines in Australia." Tasnee's stake will exceed 20 percent of the firm and will require shareholder approval. Dyesol uses a layer of nanotitania on a glass, metal or polymer substrate, hence the strategic aspect of Tasnee's investment. Organic and dye-sensitized solar cell developers include Heliatek, Solarmer, Plextronics, EPFL, Mitsubishi, Peccell, and G24i. Eight19 Limited raised $7 million from the Carbon Trust and Rhodia to develop plastic organic solar cells. Ireland's SolarPrint has eliminated the liquid part of DSC technology and replaced it with nanomaterials and printing. Intel has done some research into OSCs, as well.

Burbank, Calif.-based builder of power-tower solar thermal technology eSolar just raised $22 million led by Oak Investment Partners. Existing investors include Idealab, GE Energy and Google.org. GE purchased a stake in the startup in 2011. The company has raised close to $200 million since its founding in 2007. It is now pursuing enhanced oil recovery applications, rather than power generation, in the U.S.

Irish silicon solar-cell technology startup Nines Photovoltaics won $475,000 in funding from Kernel Capital, Business Venture Partners, et al. The firm designs silicon-wafer processing equipment with improved reflection properties and "a dry atmospheric etching process." 

Energy Efficiency Investments

Navitas Capital led a $1.5 million investment in Enmetric Systems, an energy efficiency company providing plug-load management for the enterprise. Other investors included Azure International and Lakewest.