Average U.S. gasoline prices rose above $4 per gallon this week, up more than a buck from a year ago, and analysts say its likely to get worse, not better, in the long run.
That should be good for greentech. And overall, shares have grown in the last week, according to the WilderHill Clean Energy Index. But they have dropped dramatically from December on worries about the overall economy, and high oil prices have contributed to that.
Venture capital hasn’t been immune, with investment in total greentech funding seeing a slight dip, according to a report the New England Clean Energy Council released last week (via Cleantech Investing).
Still, early-stage venture capitalists seem spurred rather than deterred. According to the report, greentech companies are expected to rake in between $1.8 billion and $2.8 billion in venture capital in the next five years, and the development of a cleantech cluster could boost that number by an additional $1 billion by 2012.
But at least one entrepreneur, Mark Modzelewski, worries that much the money is being misspent (see Xconomy post).
Here’s how investors spent their money last week:
- Xtreme Energetics, a concentrating-photovoltaic company in Livermore, Calif., is raising $5 million in its first round of funding, according to VentureBeat. The blog also reported Monday that the company plans to raise $35 million soon afterward. Xtreme has licensed thin-film transistor technology from Hewlett-Packard to help control its concentration and tracking system (see Earth2Tech post).
- GE Energy, a subsidiary of the General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), has raised its stake in thin-film solar startup PrimeStar Solar. The company on Wednesday said it has become PrimeStar’s majority shareholder, but didn’t announce how much it has invested in the cadmium-telluride thin-film maker. GE Energy last year announced it had taken a minority stake in the Golden, Colo.-based startup, which was founded in 2006.
- G24 Innovations raised $20 million from Morgan Stanley Principal Investments last week. The money is part of a larger round the Cardiff, Wales-based company is raising. G24, which launched a solar-powered cell-phone charger last year, plans to bring a solar-powered LED light to the market this year.
- Aurora Biofuels on Wednesday took in $20 million in a second round of funding. The Alameda, Calif.-based company, which was a runner up in the California Clean Tech Open in 2006, said it will use the cash to increase its production of biodiesel from algae. Investors include Gabriel Venture Partners, Noventi and Oak Investment Partners.
- Firefly Energy, a lead-acid battery company in Peoria, Ill., on Tuesday said it closed $15 million in its third round of funding. Quercus Trust, Khosla Ventures and Infield Capital led the round. The company previously raised $14 million from investors including Caterpillar, BAE Systems, Husqvarna, KB Parners, the Illinois Finance Authority and the Tri-County Venture Capital Fund. Firefly said the cash would help it commercialize its products this year. The company also said it plans to adapt its foam-based batteries for the long-haul trucking market.
- EcoSmart Technologies raised $5 million to market a line of plant-based pesticides, which are supposed to be less toxic to humans and the environment than the synthetic chemical versions, VentureBeat reported Tuesday. The company, based in Alpharetta, Ga., has lined up Wal-Mart and other retailers. The funding came from DFJ Element, Draper Associates, RockPort Capital, Industrial Technology Ventures, Early Stage Partners and Delta Venture Partners.
- Helios Coatings, which makes nontoxic, nonpolluting coatings for automobile wheels, scored $4 million in preferred equity financing from Hopewell Ventures and G.C. Andersen Partners, Hopewell announced Thursday. Canton, Ohio-based Helios plans to use the money to expand production and distribution of its chrome-like coatings.
- Greener World Media in Oakland, Calif., earlier this month raised $1 million to expand its business in greentech news, research and conferences. K Group, based in the United States and Israel, provided the money.
- Sinosol, a solar-panel manufacturer, raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Cleantech Invest just before its expected initial public offering. Cleantech Invest disclosed the investment Thursday, the same day Sinosol announced it would offer up to 5.3 million shares at between €11 and €15 each, raising up to €79.2 million ($122.9 million). The stock’s first day of trading on the Deutsche Boerse is slated for June 25, according to Reuters.
- ICP Solar Technologies, a solar-panel manufacturer in Montreal, said Tuesday it had raised $3.3 million in a private placement of senior convertible notes and warrants. The investment was led by BridgePointe Master Fund and managed by Roswell Capital Partners, according to the announcement. The company trades over the counter under the ticker “ECOO.”
- EDF Energies Nouvelles (Paris: EEN) said Friday it has increased its stake in Spanish solar company Fotosolar from 50 percent to 90 percent. The utility said the acquisition will accelerate the development of its solar activities.
- Allied Resource Corp. last week said it raised $53 million in preferred growth-equity financing from PCG Capital Partners. Allied Resource, based in Wayne, Pa., produces synthetic gases, refines waste oils, treats industrial waste water, manufactures catalysts to reduce carbon dioxide and provides engineering services to reduce nitrogen oxide, sulfur and particulate emissions. The company said it would use the money to advance its technologies in waste lube-oil recycling and coal-gasification with carbon-dioxide sequestration.
- N-Viro International last week said it had raised £10 million from institutional investors to fulfill its first contracts. The company, traded over the counter under the ticker “NVIC,” has developed technology to turn municipal bio solids and other organic waste into products such as fertilizer and fuel. It also is developing a technology to remove sulfur, chlorine and mercury from coal so it produces fewer emissions when it’s burned, and said it has earmarked £8 million on the technology, called Vertus. The company said it has inked a 25-year deal to treat fuels for Cincinnati Bulk Terminals, and also has agreed to form a joint venture with China’s Shenyang Coal Trade Group to remove contaminants from its coal.
- Eco2 Plastics said Tuesday it had raised $6.5 million to build equipment for expanding its recycling facility in Riverside, Calif. The company (OTC: ECOO), based in San Francisco, says it can do away with the use of water for recycling and uses biodegradable solvent and other materials in its plant. Investors include Trident Capital and Thompson Hutton. Additionally, investors also converted $6 million in short-term notes and interest.