India Investments

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm famed for backing companies like Google and Sun Microsystems, is angling to get deeper with its greentech investments.

It appears the firm wants to increase its business in Asia by actively investing in Indian greentech companies, according to

Earlier this week the publication reported Kleiner Perkins was looking at several Indian companies in the space, and is likely to close deals within the next three to six months. Deal size would range between $3 to $5 million

The move also highlights the increasing interest by the firm to invest its money in the cleantech sector.

The firm said it plans on investing a third of its current $600 million fund into green technologies.

Kleiner Perkins has made 26 energy-related investments to date, the majority of which are greentech plays.

But the most obvious sign showing Kleiner Perkins is serious about investing in greentech came Monday when the firm hired former U.S. vice president, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Academy Award recipient Al Gore as a partner (see Al Gore Now Taking Elevator Pitches).

The iconic, green politico was brought on to help the firm focus on climate change solving investments.

Gore's move was part of a partnership agreement between the venture firm and the London-based investment-management firm Generation Investment Management, which Gore co-founded.

Details were sparse on the partnership, but speculates Generation Investment Management could bring in later stage investments for Indian companies that garner Kleiner Perkins backing.

Sun-Heated Power

Utility company Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) proposed Thursday to add 1,050 renewable-energy megawatts in Colorado by 2016.

The company said it would tap the usual renewable resources like wind power. But the plan also called for the building of a 200-megawatt solar-thermal plant.

Solar-thermal technology makes electricity using the sun's heat, unlike traditional solar-photovoltaic technology that converts sunlight into electricity.

While solar-thermal power has long been hailed as a potentially far cheaper form of solar power for utilities, it previously had been limited to small demonstration plants - and went nowhere.

But that appears to be changing. Companies like Khosla-backed Ausra have been scoring deals as of late.

Earlier this month Pacific Gas and Electric Co. signed an agreement to buy 177 megawatts of solar-thermal power from Ausra (see Ausra to Build 177-Megawatt Solar-Thermal Plant).

And it now appears Xcel might be looking for such a company. But before folks start pitching Xcel hard for the deal, the project still has to get the green light from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. According to the company there is no set date as to when that might be.