Solar Slurry Recycler Raises €53.4M

As high silicon prices squeeze some solar manufacturers’ margins and the industry prepares for heightened competition, cost-cutting technologies have become more attractive.

SiC Processing, one company with such a technology, said Wednesday it raised €53.4 million (about $75.9 million) in new financing.

Investors included Zouk Ventures, Merrill Lynch Corporate Principal Investments Group, CC Private Equity Partners, Masdar Clean Tech Fund, Foursome Investments and members of the Heckmann family.

SiC Processing has technology to recycle used slurry from the solar and semiconductor wafer industries. Slurry is a mixture of silicon carbide and polyethylene glycol that is used -- along with wiresaws -- to slice silicon ingots into wafers.

The company has two processes that recover slurry used by wafer producers and recondition it for reuse. SiC Processing said the processes are based on hydrocyclone technology, which uses centrifugal force to separate heavy and light parts of liquid mixtures.

Alois Flatz, a partner at Zouk Ventures, said in a statement that the company has been impressed by SiC Processing’s "unique technology, focused delivery model and strong customer base."

SiC Processing CEO Thomas Heckmann said the company will use the money to expand its operations to meet long-term customer contracts.

GridPoint Gets $48.5M Surge

Energy-management company GridPoint said Wednesday it raised $48.5 million in its fourth round of funding.

Goldman Sachs Group and Susquehanna Private Equity Investments led the round. Other investors include New Enterprise Associates, Perella Weinberg Partners and Robeco.

GridPoint sells products that help balance the demand and supply of electricity.

The Washington, D.C.-based company sells products that monitor electricity use in individual buildings, convert the direct current produced by solar, wind and other alternative-energy sources into usable electricity and sell excess electricity back to the grid.

Last month, government filings revealed that GridPoint was in the process of raising money to expand business operations and take the company to the next level (see GridPoint Raises $32M, With More to Come).

The funding announced Wednesday brought in an additional $16.5 million.

It appears that GridPoint also is bulking up on brainpower to tap the utilities market, which the company in September told Greentech Media it was entering.

The company said Wednesday it has taken on new board members, including David Mohler, chief technology officer of investor-owned utility Duke Energy Corp., and Jacob Worenklein, CEO of US Power Generating Co., which produces power.

Europe Cuts Biofuel-Crop Incentives

The European Union said Wednesday that subsidies to farmers for growing renewable-energy crops have reached their limit for the year.

As a result, the EU is gearing up to reduce the area of land on which farmers will get incentives.

Up until the program’s first 2 million hectares, cultivators received an incentive of €45, or $63.83, for each hectare of biofuel crops they grew. Now they will only be able to claim 70 percent of those hectares.

Extra financial support was introduced in 2003 to help increase the production of biofuels, as well as electric and thermal energy, made from biomass.

"This payment has been very useful in stimulating the European biofuels sector," said Mariann Fischer Boel, EU commissioner for agriculture and rural development, in a statement.

With farmers already exceeding the 2-million-hectare limit, some are debating whether further incentives are even needed. Boel said the European Union will discuss that question next month.