Here’s some good news for startups looking for investments: Venture capitalists gave a record amount of money to greentech companies during the second quarter of this year.
That, along with GT Solar’s plan to raise up to $609 million through an initial public offering, should lift the spirit of folks attending this week’s Intersolar conference in San Francisco.
Investments totaled $1.3 billion in the second quarter, up 30 percent from the first quarter, according to the Venture Power Report from Greentech Media’s research arm. The research examined deals in North America, Europe, Israel and Australia (see Greentech Taps VCs for Record Investments in 2Q).
Solar companies continue to get the most love from investors. They grabbed about half of the second-quarter investments, walking away with $670 million.
The investment news came a week after the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters issued a report showing zero venture-backed IPOs on U.S. exchanges during the quarter. The report was another reminder of the economic downturn and the risks investors aren’t willing to take (see Funding Roundup: Slow IPOs, Big Ambitions).
Water-desalination company Energy Recovery broke the fast early this month, raising $68.7 million. Then, last week, news came out that GT Solar still plans to do an IPO (see Solar Firms Prep for Growth, Despite Stock Volatility).
The firm, based in Merrimack, N.H., plans to offer about 34.85 million shares at a price of between $15.50 to $17.50 per share, according to a company filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company sells solar-manufacturing equipment. GT Solar generated $244.05 million in revenue during this fiscal year, which ended March 31, quadrupling the revenue from the previous year. The company made a net income of $36.11 million for the recent fiscal year, compared with a loss of $18.36 million from the previous year.
Here’s a look at other deals announced last week.
- German company Sulfurcell raised €85 million ($134.15 million) to build a plant to make thin-film solar cells using copper indium sulfide or copper indium gallium selenide (CIS/CIGS). Intel Capital led the round with €24 million ($37.88 million). Other investors include Climate Change Capital Private Equity, AIG, Demeter Partners, Zouk Ventures and BankInvest.
- Innovalight, which makes thin-film solar cells, received $5 million in financing from ATEL Ventures to lease equipment. The San Francisco startup has developed a process to print silicon nanocrystals that it claims can dramatically lower the cost of making the cells.
- Better Energy Systems, which makes the Solio brand of solar-powered chargers for portable gadgets, raised $5 million from TBL Capital. The Berkeley, Calif.-based company makes palm-sized chargers that can be plugged into a wall outlet and that use lithium-ion batteries to store electricity.
- Eka Systems raised $18.5 million for developing and selling smart metering systems that allow utilities to gauge and analyze energy use. The company, based in Germantown, Md., raised the fourth round of funding from investors including Flybridge Capital Partners, RockPort Capital Partners, the Westly Group and Metropolitan Investments.
- Israel Corp. plans to invest $15.5 million in Project Better Place, which sets out to build a network of charging stations for electric cars in different countries. Israel previously put in $7.5 million and promised to give the startup as much as $100 million. The company is working with the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
- Hycrete raised $15 million to expand its operation of making chemical additives to waterproof concrete (see Green Light post). The company’s products have found use in about 80 construction projects worldwide. Mohr Davidow led the funding.
- Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning raised $10.75 million for building a deep-water cooling project in downtown Honolulu. The company will build a plant that draws 45-degree Fahrenheit seawater at a depth of 1,600 feet and pumps it to a station on shore. The cold seawater would be used to cool fresh water that is then piped to customers’ buildings. Construction is scheduled to begin in January.
- Agoura Hills, Calif.-based Cyber-Rain, which is developing wireless devices and software to control sprinkler systems, raised $1.5 million. The system, which enables customers to set watering schedules, uses the latest weather information to adjust or even suspend watering. Funk Ventures led the round.
- The Blackstone Group, a private-equity firm, plans to invest €1 billion ($1.59 billion) in a 400-megawatt wind-energy project owned by German investment firm Windland Energieerzeugungs. The Meerwind project aims to build some 80 wind farms on the German island of Helgoland.
- Evergreen Solar (NSDQ: ESLR) raised $374 million by selling senior convertible notes, including those set aside for underwriters to purchase. The company, based in Marlboro, Mass., would use the proceeds to complete a manufacturing plant in Devens, Mass., and to begin building another plant for making heat-resistant strings, used to make wafers.
- Paramus, N.J.-based Raven Biofuels raised $10 million from Blackhawk Investments and Clean Energy Holding. The company, which trades over the counter under the ticker symbol “RVBF,” plans to use most of the proceeds to build its first cellulosic-ethanol refinery, which will make fuel from agricultural waste, such as wood chips, corn stover and sugarcane bagasse.
- The Man Group, a London-based investment firm, plans to raise a $1.5 billion cleantech fund called the MENA Associated Gas and Global Environment Fund. The group already has secured a $300 million commitment from the Abu Dhabi government. The fund is expected to invest in projects that capture and use waste gases that would otherwise burned off during oil production.