Venture Capital and Cleantech weekly update

01 Venture Capital and Cleantech weekly update

Sungevity, a solar financing and solar software start-up, said that it has raised $40 million in venture capital and arranged an additional $85 million of investment in its rooftop solar-panel projects. Sungevity gained $40 million in equity, led by “impact investment fund” Brightpath Capital Partners and home improvement store Lowe’s, along with Vision Ridge Partners, Craton Equity Partners and Eastern Sun Capital Partners. The company said that private equity firm Energy Capital Partners and other investors put up $85 million to back construction of new rooftop solar systems in California, Arizona and seven other U.S. states.

Third-party financing of solar, be it some form of lease or power purchase agreement (PPA), has become the leading method by which homeowners can afford to install solar.  The third-party solar financing sector has won and deployed billions of dollars in structured financing to date. In addition, solar-power developers and their investors have benefited from government renewable-energy subsidies and solar-panel prices that have plunged over the last few years amid a global oversupply.

 

The Department of Energy (DOE) is launching its eighth round of the SunShot Incubator, which provides financing to get solar startups off the ground and running towards commercialization. This round is offering up to $12 million to support hardware improvements and the reduction of soft costs.

The DOE launched the current funding opportunity Jan. 16, and it is open to applications through April 30, 2013. Under the current set of offerings, a company could receive up to $4 million in grants. To qualify for that level though, the company must be focused on hardware and have at least a 50 percent cost share and develop a lab prototype to pilot-scale production. Other awards are available to move hardware designs from the conceptual stage, to the functional prototype stage and from the functional prototype stage to commercially viable prototype.

 

Ayasdi, a start-up that has developed a novel synthesis of machine learning and data analysis technologies, announced an investment of $10 million from Khosla Ventures and FLOODGATE to pioneer automated insight discovery From ‘Big Data’. The company was initially backed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Science Foundation. Ayasdi aims to automate the insight discovery process, allowing end users to find valuable intelligence within massive datasets almost instantaneously.

“At Khosla Ventures, we love companies that take a disruptive approach to transform an industry, as Ayasdi’s team is doing in the field of big data,” said Vinod Khosla, Founder, Khosla Ventures. “Ayasdi’s Insight Discovery platform utilizes machine powered intelligence to unearth important–and previously unattainable–answers that will help solve some of the most pressing global, social, and economic issues.”

 

Fusion Coolant Systems, a tech transfer start-up company, announced that it has raised $600,000 in venture capital funding, completing its Series A round with The Frankel Fund, a University of Michigan student-led venture capital fund, as the lead investor. Also participating in the financing round was The Amherst Fund, Automation Alley, Detroit Enterprise Fund, First Step Fund and The Michigan Pre-seed Fund. The funds will be used to execute a growth plan across the organization including building out sales, marketing, and product development.

Fusion Coolant has developed a disruptive metal-working innovation that cools and lubricates metal in a novel way that eliminates the cleaning process for tools and extends machining tool life. The company’s patented CHiP Lube system reduces metalworking cooling fluid costs and cleans without any toxic chemicals.

“The Frankel Fund is pleased to be able to play a role in the growth of Fusion Coolant. The Company has successfully developed a novel process for removing both cost and environmental waste from the current processes used by the machine tool industry,” according to Tom Porter, Director of the Frankel Fund and Executive-in-Residence at the Ross School of Business. “The superior benefits of the system have been well received by customers and are expected to change the future of metalworking coolants.”

 

Harmonic Energy Inc. (ASUV), a company focused on tire manufacturing and recycling that uses an innovative approach to energy efficiency and sustainability, has signed a non-binding Term Sheet for $10 million in funding with private investment group that deploys equity capital into publicly traded companies throughout North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Harmonic will use the net proceeds to further develop its core projects in the United States and in the United Kingdom. The company’s Tyrolysis process provides a sustainable solution to the global scrap tire problem by remanufacturing tires collected that are suitable for this process while recovering energy and sustainable commodities (oil and minerals) from those not fit for re-use.

 

Energy Automation Systems Inc, a provider of energy efficiency solutions for large industrial and commercial facilities, has been purchased by Arborview Capital, a Maryland-based private investment firm. EASI provides energy-saving solutions for large manufacturing and commercial companies. Arborview focuses on investments in clean energy companies in the energy efficiency, resource efficiency and renewable energy sectors.

EASI’s primary customers are large, multi-site manufacturing and commercial companies, who often engage EASI over a period of years to implement projects at multiple facilities. EASI designs and implements systems with a full range of energy conservation measures, which address all major load areas in facilities (motors, HVAC, refrigeration, lighting), and also address power quality issues. EASI designs solutions to meet customers’ payback requirements (typically 2 – 3 year payback, with 10 – 30% annual energy savings), and then provides a savings guarantee underwritten by an A- rated insurance carrier.

 

D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI) and Bright Plain Renewable Energy, (BPRE) announced the completed financing of the largest solar power project in Pennsylvania. The 5-megawatt (AC) solar farm was developed by Community Energy Solar in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and was acquired by an affiliate of DESRI in partnership with BPRE earlier in 2012.

Exelon Generation (EXC), the nation’s leading competitive power generator, has contracted the project’s electricity output under a long-term power purchase agreement. groSolar, a commercial and utility-scale solar engineering, procurement, and construction firm, acted as the turnkey EPC contractor.

 

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  1. [...] and MLPs aren’t the only innovative ways to source capital for cleantech. Sungevity announced last week a $125 million investment in the firm, as VC firms and banks continue to see real value in their [...]

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