cleantech insights

Weekly Investment Highlights

Hans Chen

Each week our research team tracks cleantech transactions across the globe. This week we recorded 16 VC/PE deals, seven fund announcements, six M&As, four transactions of other types and four IPO-related stories. Below are some of the highlights.

Venture capital and private equity investments

Over $327 million of venture/private equity fund was raised by 16 cleantech companies, the two largest deals were:

  • Spain-based Corporación Gestamp, which is engaged in renewable energy, automotive components and logistics industries, finalized a €125 million (~$178.6 milion) financing contract from the European Investment Bank. The proceeds will be specifically used to support the company’s research, development and innovation activities for fuel-efficient vehicle applications.
  • California-based GreenVolts, a supplier of concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar cells, closed its $39 million funding Round C led by Oak Investment Partners. The firm had raised $22 million of that round late last year. This round brings GreenVolts’ VC fundraising total to more than $80 million.


Seven fund managers made important announcements. Highlights are:

  • The Agricultural Bank of China partnered with the Chinese city of Wuxi on a RMB 15 billion (~$2.3 billion) private equity fund to invest in high-growth sectors such as logistics and energy efficiency. The Agricultural Bank of

Porous Power Technologies: Making Li-ion Batteries Better

Hans Chen

The lithium-ion battery industry has been growing at a rapid pace in the past few decades. Almost every portable electronic device today is powered by lithium-ion batteries. Soon, these batteries will power millions of fuel-efficient hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles. Sometime in the future, they will store energy generated by the wind, sun and waves — and provide this energy for use wherever it is needed.

As the market of Li-ion batteries mature, the key factor in the competition will eventually shift from core technology to production cost, creating a niche for companies with advanced manufacturing processes. Porous Power Technologies (PPT) is one of these companies. It develops manufacturing process specifically for Li-ion battery production.

Founded in 2006, PPT owns a wealth of intellectual property that already allowed the company to impress several major battery manufacturers. Porous Power claims that its patent-pending SYMMETRIX® separators and MAS™ production system will allow lithium-ion cell manufacturers to improve performance and safety while realizing dramatic productivity and cost gains, addressing the issue that Li-ion cell manufacturers often focus on improving active materials and electrolytes and miss opportunities to improve performance, safety and cost with better separators (the microporous membranes that separate electrodes). According to …

Energy Storage: Week in Review

Alon Gavrielov

M&A/ Partnerships/Investments:


The Lonely Turbine of Seward, AK


A recent vacation took me to Seward, Alaska, a fishing and tourist town on the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage. Pulling into this windy coastal town in a rental car, I was distracted by a lonely 121 ft tall, 100 kW wind turbine standing idle in a lot in the city’s commercial park; an area otherwise dominated by garages housing dilapidated boats and men wielding belt sanders.

I wasn’t in the driver’s seat, so we survived the sighting. But I was driven to find answers. Why just one? And why is it not spinning?

After tracking down answers the old fashioned way (on foot and by asking locals instead of Google), I was able to glean that the turbine was a collaboration between AVTEC, an Alaksan vocational college, and Northern Power Systems (link to I3 Platform content requires subscription), a wind turbine manufacturer and solutions company that happens to be based in my home state of Vermont. AVTEC is launching a new program of study for up and coming wind power technicians and erected the turbine in late 2010 both to supply power for three out of four of its Seward-based buildings and to provide an onsite case study …

Water: Week in Review


M&A/ Partnerships


  • The California Superior Court has upheld the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board’s most recent approval of Poseidon Resources’ Carlsbad Desalination Project, ending years of legal challenges filed against the project.

Fill up ya trunk – cos’ here come the “eBays” of goods delivery

Stephen Marcus

While sitting in a local “coffice” a couple of weeks ago with Cleantech Group’s head of research and advisory, Greg Neichin, I started explaining to him what I thought was a brilliant and unaddressed business idea in the smart transportation space.

I said to him: “This idea of peer-to-peer is beginning to gain some serious traction in the transportation space. We’ve all heard of peer-to-peer car sharing companies such as RelayRides, WhipCar, and Spride, and there are some innovative and emerging eBay-style market places propping up for parking spots such as ParkatmyHouse, ParkWhiz, and Streetline. It seems logical that this idea could be applied to goods delivery, no?”

The basis was that if I am driving to the other side of the country, it makes sense for me to be connected to someone who has a parcel to be delivered to a similar destination in exchange for a fee. Or even better, if I’m a delivery van with a scheduled delivery one way, it makes sense for me to find something to stock up with on the way back rather than have individual parcels go to several depots and be transferred across …

DriveCam – the watchful eye on how you drive

Stephen Marcus

My most ardent followers will know that I have recently written a lot about driver change and fleet tracking solutions. (See blog posts on GreenRoad Technologies and FleetMatics). However the batch would not be complete without also giving third prominent player, California-based DriveCam, a mention.

For a detailed 9 page profile of DriveCam as well as a host of other leading innovating cleantech companies, see Cleantech Group’s new i3 platform (for subscribers only).

DriveCam, like the other two companies, offers a driver-based analytics solution that enables fleet managers to identify and assess risky and fuel inefficient driving behaviours before they lead to a collision. The company measures traditional metrics – such as vehicle idling, speeding, and vehicle forces – which is aggregated and can be reviewed by customers through a secure online web tool called DriveCam Online. DriveCam also provides customers with both in-vehicle feedback through a red and green light system that allows drivers to immediately self-correct driving behaviour in the moment, as well as on-going feedback through individual coaching.

However, unique in comparison to its vendors, DriveCam also integrates the use of sight and sound to supplement the traditional driver-analytics data. DriveCam customers have video recording …

Energy Storage: Week in Review

Alon Gavrielov

Hi, my name is Alon Gavrielov, and I’m a new addition to the Cleantech Group supporting the storage team.  The “Energy Storage: Week in Review” blog post will (you guessed it) be a weekly update on the major merger and acquisition activity, new partnerships, and notable projects in the Energy Storage sector.

M&A/ Partnerships/Fundraising:

  • Primus Power has received $11 million in its most recent round of financing.  The funds raised complement existing grants from the United States Department of Energy (DOE), the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), and the California Energy Commission (CEC), and will be used to support continued development and commercialization of Primus’ low cost, power-dense, distributed storage technology.
  • Next-gen battery startup Seeo raises another $15M from investors, including previous investor Khosla Ventures.  Seeo’s batteries are supposed to be able to

Weekly Investment Highlights

Hans Chen

Each week our research team tracks cleantech transactions across the globe. This week we recorded 16 VC/PE deals, six fund announcements, six M&As, nine transactions of other types and two IPO-related stories. Below are some of the highlights.

Venture capital and private equity investments

Over $1.1 billion of venture/private equity fund was raised by 16 cleantech companies, the two largest deals were:

  • China-based Harbin Electric, a provider of a wide variety of electric motors for general industry as well as for electric vehicles, agreed to a private takeover by alternative investment manager Abax Global Capital. The deal values the NASDAQ-listed company at $750 million, which is well over its share valuation.
  • UK-based BWA Water Additives, a desalination and water treatment chemical specialist, was acquired by private investment management company Berwind Corporation for £185 million (~$300 million). This is the second time that the company has been sold in the past three years.


Six fund managers made important announcements. Highlights are:

  • Private equity investors McNally Capital and Black Coral Capital announced the formation of the Cleantech Syndicate, a consortium of 11 prominent families from across the United States representing a collective net worth in excess of $30 billion. The consortium

On power and influence in Cleantech

Josh Gould

File this under simple, but underappreciated: power and influence are not synonyms.  They describe seperate, though sometimes closely related, phenomena.  Distinguishing between each requires self-awareness.  Successful people like Bing Gordon of Electronic Arts fame, who recently discussed the issue here, tend to be keenly aware of how much of each characteristic they have, and how best to conserve or deploy it.  Being successful in cleantech is no exception.

Let’s define the terms first.  Power is the ability to command someone to do something.  At its best power can enable or provide the legitimacy for people to achieve great things.  At its worst, power can be destructive and coercive (think of dictators or autocrats or, better yet,  Office Space).   In a corporate setting, a classic appeal to power is when a manager “pulls rank” or mandates that an employee do something simply because “I am the boss.”  Of course pulling rank is also a sign that the employee has little respect for, or is not influenced by, the manager.

Influence, on the other hand, is the ability to affect others, regardless of whether that ability is derived from formal authority or not.  Not surprisingly, the most influential often lack …