For investors, the answer is blowing in the wind.
Several private wind-energy companies in the United States and Europe, such as Quiet Revolution in London and Energreen in Norway, have recently announced funding deals.
Meanwhile, Suzlon Energy, a wind-power equipment maker in India, last week agreed to buy a 22-percent stake in REpower Systems for €270 million ($387.53 million). Suzlon already owns 66 percent of Repower, a major wind-turbine maker in Germany.
The same week, Spanish wind-energy giant Iberdrola received hard-won approval from the New York Public Services Commission to buy Energy East for $4.5 billion. The commission approved the acquisition despite a staff recommendation to deny it. The analysis cited concerns that the acquisition could create a too-powerful company and hurt consumers down the road (see Iberdrola Clears Last Hurdle to Buy Energy East).
Iberdrola said it would consider the conditions imposed by the commission, such as setting aside $275 million in rebates for Energy East customers, before deciding whether to buy the utility.
The company in May announced ambitious plans to expand its presence in the United States by investing $8 billion between 2008 and 2010.
Here's some other funding news from the past week:
- Morgan Solar, a stealthy solar startup in Toronto, told Greentech Media it has raised $1.5 million - with about $750,000 in cash and $750,000 in noncash contributions - from angel investors and other sources (see Out of Africa: New Concentrating-Solar Tech Inspired by Congo Stint). The company is developing a solar concentrator it hopes will cut the cost of concentrating-solar power by three quarters.
- Photon Technologies, a French solar-power installer, raised €1 million (about $1.4 million) from Truffle Capital and EDF-Energies Nouvelles. Photon was founded in 2006, the year France implemented its feed-in tariffs that guarantee solar-energy prices, enabling the company to generate €8 million in revenue in 2007, according to Paris-based Truffle Capital. Photon owns a 25-percent stake in Silicium de Provence, which is building a plant to produce silicon.
- Arizona State University expects to receive $3 million from private investor Heliae Development and the nonprofit Science Foundation Arizona to commercialize a process for making a jet fuel from algae. The technology is based on research by professors Qiang Hu and Milton Sommerfeld at the university's Laboratory for Algae Research & Biotechnology. The research already has moved into pilot production and testing, according to the university.
- Codexis, which is developing enzymes for making biofuels, nixed plans to go public. The company, based in Redwood City, Calif., had hoped to raise up to $100 million (see Codexis Says No to IPO). The startup already has raised at least $75 million in private equity, according to company announcements. Its investors include Bio*One Capital, Chevron Technology Ventures, CMEA Ventures, Maxygen, Pequot Ventures and Pfizer. Royal Dutch Shell also has invested an undisclosed amount in the company, which announced a five-year development deal with the oil giant last November.
- Quiet Revolution raised £7 million ($12.49 million) from RWE Innogy and other investors. Greentech Media reported in April that the small-wind turbine company hoped to raise £6 million in its first round of venture-capital financing (see Riding the Wave of Renewable Regulation). The London company, which also in March announced it had raised £1.2 million, plans to use the money to expand its production of small-wind turbines and to develop more products.
- Norway-based Energreen, which is developing a turbine that generates electricity from pressure changes in a fluid-process system, two weeks ago said it had raised 45 million Norwegian kroner ($8.08 million) from Energy Ventures, which also is based in Norway. Energreen's technology could be used for land-based or offshore energy farms, Energy Ventures said. The 2-year-old startup built a prototype turbine earlier this year.
- ChapDrive, a Norwegian developer of a hydraulic transmission system for running wind turbines, raised 30 million Norwegian kroner ($5.83 million) from NorthZone Ventures, Hafslund Ventures and StatoilHydro Ventures. Founded in 2006, ChapDrive field-tested its 225-kilowatt prototype earlier this year, and is currently carrying out a 900-kilowatt demonstration project.
- Eco-Products raised $2 million from Greenmont Capital Partners. The Boulder, Colo.-based company makes biodegradable cups, plates, utensils and other food-service products.
- Schott's solar business plans to raise up to €477 million ($682.2 million) in a initial public offering on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange by Sept. 26, according to its prospectus. The company said last month it planned to float its solar business. Schott plans to use up to €200 million ($285.64 million) of the money to pay off loans and the rest to expand the business. In March, Schott Solar began constructing a $100 million plant to make solar panels and solar-thermal receivers in New Mexico.
- Raser Technologies (NYSE: RZ) closed $25 million in tax equity, as well as $31 million in debt financing, to pay for a 10-megawatt geothermal plant near Beaver, Utah. Raser, based in Provo, Utah, plans to open the power plant in October and to sell the electricity to the city of Anaheim in California for an average $95 per megawatt-hour over 20 years.
- Geodynamics, an Australian geothermal-power developer, has agreed to sell 11.4 percent of the company to Tata Power in India in return for about A$37.35 million ($31 million) in investment. The agreement includes an option for Tata to buy additional shares at $2.25 per share for every two shares issued, subject to shareholders' approval in November. Geodynamics, which trades on the Australian Stock Exchange under the symbol "GDY," is developing power plants using "enhanced geothermal system" technology, which creates hot water and steam by injecting water down miles-long wells to where hot rocks are located. Nearby production wells then reclaim the hot water and extract the heat to drive power generators.
- BioEnergy Africa raised £8.6 million ($15.35 million) through an initial public offering on London's Alternative Investment Market on Sept 1. The company plans to use the proceeds for its first ethanol refinery, to be located in Mozambique. BioEnergy plans to initially produce 600,000 liters of sugarcane-based ethanol per year, increasing the production to 1.2 million liters.
- Enel, an Italian energy firm, is considering selling 40 percent of its clean-energy business through an initial public offering next year, the company told New Energy Finance. The company, which didn't say how much it hopes to raise, also might skip the IPO and choose to sell private shares of its clean-energy unit, called Enel GreenPower, instead (see More Greentech Companies to Go Public).
- Southridge Enterprises has agreed to sell a 20-percent stake in its El Salvador ethanol refinery to Shenyang Rrzk Co. in China for $4 million. Dallas-based Southridge, which trades over the counter under the symbol "SRDG," is constructing the $20 million refinery. The plant, expected to have an annual production capacity of 20 million gallons, is scheduled to begin operations in late 2009 or early 2010.
- Noble Environmental Power plans to raise up to $375 million through an initial public offering of 23.4 million shares (see More Greentech Companies to Go Public). The Essex, Conn.-based wind-energy developer operates U.S. wind farms with a total capacity of 282 megawatts, and is developing an additional 950 megawatts of capacity in the United States.
- Henderson Global Investors has launched a fund to invest in energy, environmental services, health and transportation. The London firm declined to disclose the amount of the Industries of the Future Fund. As of July 31, Henderson had eight other funds totaling $6 billion.
- Sindicatum Carbon Capital, a London-based renewable project developer, raised $280 million to invest in carbon-offset projects. The company originally planned to raise $600 million when it launched its fund-raising effort in December. The $280 million came from Dubai-based Istithmar and undisclosed U.S. endowment and pension funds (see Sindicatum Raises $280M for Carbon-Offset Projects).