With the U.S. economy struggling, investors can feel hard pressed to find some good news.
But in the cleantech sector, things might not be that bad. In fact, according to Monday’s Greentech Media Venture Power Report, things are going fairly well.
Green-energy venture-capital investments for the first quarter of 2008 are on record pace, according to the newsletter, which predicted that venture capitalists will continue to back all energy sectors for the rest of the year.
In total, the quarter saw about $998 million pour into 73 greentech deals. Solar saw the most financial backing with $248 million in 15 deals. Biofuels and its accompanying technology came in next with about $193 million in nine deals, followed by smart-grid financing with $130 million in 13 deals.
Several deals announced over the last week supported the Greentech Media forecasts:
- Chinese solar manufacturer ET Solar said Friday it had closed a $19 million Series A financing. Venture firm Tsing Capital’s China Environment Fund led the round. ET Solar makes a variety of products, including silicon ingots, wafers and panels. The company, whose technology is expected light up the beach-volleyball courts at the Olympics in China this year, did not disclose how the extra capital would be spent.
- Energy-management developer Tendril Networks said last week it had closed on a $12 million Series B financing. RRE Ventures led the round. Vista Ventures, Access Venture Partners and Appian Ventures also contributed. The round, according to Greentech Media’s featured blog, Cleantech Investing, could be an extension of the $5.25 million Series B round Tendril Networks announced in 2006. Earlier this year, the Boulder, Colo.-based company released a beta version of its energy-management system that uses a mix of software and hardware to provide homeowners with information about their energy consumption.
- Green-building supplier Standard Renewable Energy announced Wednesday it had grabbed $7 million in a second round of funding. Quercus Trust of California led the financing. Standard Renewable Energy will use some of the money to build a nationwide chain of dealers that install solar panels for businesses and homeowners, according to CNET. Last year, Standard Renewable Energy closed its first round of funding with $8 million. Private-equity fund SREG led the financing.
- Novinium, a startup that extends the life of utility cables, grabbed $6 million in a third round of financing. Nomura’s New Energy & Clean Technology Ventures led the funding. Seattle-based Novinium claims the company has experienced triple-digit growth in the past year and that the money will go toward company growth and technology for improving grid reliability.
- Stealthy LED lighting developer Illumintex raised $5.25 million toward a $10 million second round of funding, according to PE Week. Backers included New Enterprise Associates, Aweida Capital and DFJ Mercury. Details on Austin, Texas-based Illumintex are sparse. However Venture Beat discovered that the company has been around at least since 2006 and has a partnership with Competitive Technologies (AMEX: CTT), which specializes in tech transfer and licensing services.
- Clean Mobile, a German company developing fuel-cell drive technologies for lightweight vehicles like scooters, bicycles and rickshaws, raised €3.3 million ($5.2 million) in its first round of funding, according to Red Herring. Earlybird Venture Capital and Silicon Valley Technology Group led the round. High Tech Gründer Fond also contributed.
- Canadian cellulosic-ethanol developer Woodland Biofuels grabbed $1.25 million Canadian ($1.23 million) from its first institutional investor, according to a posting last week on Greentech Media's featured blog, Clean Break. The investment is expected to top off at $3.25 million Canadian ($3.21 million). Previously, Woodland Biofuels snagged $9.8 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada for the development of a demonstration plant, Clean Break said.
- U.K.-based Eco2, a renewable-energy project-management and investment firm, said Monday it had invested £150,000 ($298,199) in Tidal Energy Limited. The Carbon Connections Development Fund will match the investment. Eco2 also said it would help Tidal Energy raise £6 million ($11.9 million), £1 million ($2 million) of which the firm said it would provide. The funding will be used to push Tidal Energy’s technology called DeltaStream closer to commercialization. Tidal Energy claims its developing lightweight, portable tidal devices capable of tuning the ebb and flow of the tides into energy. The company also claims its technology could lead to the U.K.’s first tidal farms.
- Menlo Park, Calif.-based venture-capital firm Foundation Capital said Monday it had closed its $750 million Foundation Capital VI fund. The firm said it would allocate about $250 million of the fund to expand its cleantech practice. Among Foundation Capital’s more noted investments is its backing of demand-response company EnerNOC (NASD: ENOC). The company, which went public in May, acquired MDEnergy for $7.9 million in September after buying Celerity Energy Partners and eBidenergy (see Energy-Management Consolidation Continues). Other Foundation Capital portfolio companies include greener drywall-materials developer Serious Materials, which closed $50 million in funding in November, and Purfresh, which grabbed $5 million of a $25 million investment in March for its technology that uses ozone to sanitize food and purify water.