Last week's election has injected hope into the greentech community, which is now counting on Barack Obama to set federal policies and spending plans in the next four years that will promote growth in solar, wind, geothermal, electric cars and other businesses.
Although Obama and his competitor John McCain made similar pitches to win renewable energy proponents during the race, Obama's energy plan contained more specific provisions for supporting alternative energy. McCain's shrill cry for more offshore drilling also raised questions about his commitment to support renewable energy (see Presidential Picks Cast Solar Ballots).
"We're looking at not just having, for the first time, a real cheerleader for clean energy in the Oval Office, but also at having a House and Senate that are probably going to be to the left of the president," said Robert Wilder, CEO of Wildershares, a firm that manages three energy indices. "[Obama] has already talked about energy independence in a real way – it's not been the throwaway line we've gotten since Richard Nixon – and I think he really means it" (see Analysts Call Obama Election a Win for Greentech).
In the next two months, the greentech community will be closely watching as Obama picks the next energy secretary and other key advisors (see Who Will be the Next Energy Czar?). The president-elect has proposed a $175 billion package for boosting the sagging economy, and plans to introduce a separate bill on energy, one of his campaign advisors told Bloomberg.
How well or how quickly an Obama administration can rebuild the economy will have a significant impact on investors' decisions to pump money into greentech startups, of course. Even before Obama won the election, venture capitalists were expecting fewer and smaller deals the next few quarters (see VCs Predict Greentech Investment Slowdown).
Here is a roundup of some recent funding news:
- CaliSolar raised $101.9 million for developing and producing solar cells using refined metallurgical-grade silicon, reported Private Equity Hub. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company received $51.9 million in preferred stock funding and another $50 million in convertible securities from Hudson Clean Energy, Advanced Technology Ventures and Globespan Capital Partners (see CaliSolar Snags $101.9M for UMG-Silicon Cells).
- SET Venture Partners plans to invest an undisclosed amount in SolarTotal, which finances and installs solar power plants in Europe, reported New Energy Finance (via CleanEdge). SolarTotal, based in the Netherlands, previously raised €10 million ($12.8 million) in equity and debt from investors including Rabobank. SET Venture typically invests for a maximum of a 10 percent stake in a company.
- ENN Solar Energy Co. is getting $136 million from a member of the World Bank Group to install a 60-megawatt thin-film solar panel line. The International Finance Corp. is providing a $45 million loan and up to $15 million in equity investment for a stake in China-based ENN Solar. IFC also will arrange up to $76 million in additional loans from other lenders (see ENN Solar Gets $136M From World Bank Member).
- Blue Square Energy is looking to raise $25 million to develop solar cells using lower-grade silicon that is less expensive than the purer polysilicon commonly used to make solar cells today, reported VentureWire. The company, founded in 2004, reportedly had to layoff employees and asked then CEO Jeff Barnett to resign after it was unable to raise $30 million as planned and meet other milestones, reported the Gunther Portfolio. The North East, Md.-based startup, now headed by CEO Joseph Babin, recently said its cells can reach 14.6 percent efficiency.
- Miles Electric Vehicles is raising $40 million, reported Private Equity Hub. The company, based in Santa Monica, Calif., told Earth2tech that it already had received $13 million from investors including Angeleno Group. Angeleno led a $15 million round announced in February this year. The company already has developed low-speed electric cars for tooling around the neighborhood. Miles Electric is developing a $40,000 highway-capable sedan for launch in early 2010.
- D.light Design received $6 million in a Series A round for expanding its business of developing and selling affordable and energy-efficient solar-powered LED lighting in developing countries. The India-based startup, which aims to replace the dimmer and less-safe kerosene lanterns with its LED lighting, launched its first products earlier this year. Investors included Nexus India Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Garage Technology Ventures, the Mahindra Group, Acumen Fund and Gray Matters Capital, all of whom gave the startup seed money when it was founded a year ago.
- CarbonFlow, which is developing software for managing carbon emission-reduction projects, has raised around $1 million from @Ventures, a source close to the company told Earth2tech. CarbonFlow set out to make it easier for carbon market participants to wade through the complex process of developing carbon offset projects and getting the associated credits verified before they can be sold (see Green Light post).
- Robeco Private Equity has raised $650 million, and it plans to put 60 percent of the money in cleantech funds managed by venture capital firms or directly in greentech companies, reported VentureWire. Robeco, owned by Dutch bank Rabobank, hasn't stopped fund-raising even though it had surpassed the $500 million goal (see Robeco Raises $650M and Wants More).