| December 5th 2013
Last week, Greentech Media reported on a deal that took place quietly back in October. In a letter to creditors and shareholders, a financial services firm representing Stion, one of the many struggling producers of Copper-Indium-Gallium-(di)Selenide (CIGS) thin film solar PV cells, disclosed that existing shareholder Khosla Ventures had taken a controlling stake in the company and provided for “an assignment for the benefit of creditors”.
After conventional silicon PV markets experienced a dramatic oversupply and subsequent price crash in the past few years, thin film solar producers, which haven’t yet matched the conversion efficiency of silicon PV and so had been competing primarily on cost, found themselves unable to compete — resulting in several bankruptcies and fire sales. Khosla Ventures’ investment in Stion, which had raised nearly $250 million from investors including Khosla, Braemar Energy Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, AVACO, and others, is a significant bet that thin film solar can still work. Time will tell, as they say, whether this bet turns out to have been a wise one.…
| November 11th 2013
Despite its stock getting battered late in the week due to a bigger-than-expected third quarter loss, we believe hindsight will judge last week a good one for SolarCity. For us, the short-term whims of speculative day traders and hedge funds do not outweigh the significance of the company’s announcement a week ago that it was planning a private placement, worth $54 million, of debt securities backed by the cash flows of its solar projects.
The deal is significant as it is the first of its kind and an important step in the direction of securitization of solar generation facilities. If all goes well, it will be yet another proof point for the bank-ability of solar. Thus far, in the United States, solar project developers have raised project finance funds based on pass-through arrangements that promise the delivery of tax subsidies accrued to the solar facility, to institutional investors (typically big banks) with large tax liabilities. SolarCity’s new private placement may open the door to a plethora of private-sector pooled-asset financing vehicles including real estate investment trusts (REITs) and master limited partnerships (MLPs), that are attractive for their future cash flows, not just subsidies.
Across the pond in July, a …
| November 4th 2013
A note to regular readers of this blog – this will be our final “The Week in Cleantech” post. Beginning next week, in an effort to bring you more focused content on specific clean technology sectors, we’ll begin posting highlights of specific deals and why they matter in relation to a broader sector. Now, let’s look at some highlights from last week:
Perhaps influenced by the successful exit of ecoATM in July by investors including Claremont Creek Ventures and Tao Venture Capital Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Silver Lake Kraftwerk last week pumped $105 million in Series C growth capital into eRecyclingCorps, a company similarly pursuing incentivized recycling of personal electronics. Instead of setting up a network of kiosks, however, eRecyclingCorps builds trade-in programs in partnership with the all largest mobile phone carriers. Founded in 2009, the company, which also counts SJF Ventures and NGEN Partners as investors, has said it intends to use the funds to support potential acquisitions, geographic expansion and new products and services.
The Agriculture sector again proved to be on the minds of venture investors last week as Harvest Automation, a Massachusetts-based developer of robotic technology for agricultural applications, raised …
| October 28th 2013
The i3 Platform tracked exciting news from across cleantech sectors last week. Stem, a company marketing battery energy storage systems designed to enable commercial utility customers to better manage their energy use and avoid peak rates, announced a financing partnership with Clean Fleet Investors. Through the program, which has an initial sum of $5 million to work with, Stem will begin offering its battery energy management systems at no or low up-front cost, much the way residential solar companies have spurred higher demand through lease and power purchase agreements.
In another interesting partnership, Automatic, a provider of vehicle monitoring solutions designed to help drivers become more fuel-efficient, got a boost from Apple, which said it would begin offering Automatic’s product in its stores.
In New Zealand, renewable energy generation company Meridian Energy announced its intent to conduct an initial public offering worth $1.7 billion. At that size, the offering would be the New Zealand exchange’s largest ever. While the majority of the company’s generation portfolio comes from traditional hydro-electric plants, which provide more predictable baseload power, it also operates almost 400 MW of wind power.
Several companies raised venture funding during the week. WiTricity, a company …
| October 21st 2013
There was a great deal of news pouring out of clean technology sectors last week. From the electric transportation market, Tesla Motors announced a partnership with AT&T in which the wireless carrier’s wireless network will be accessible in Tesla’s vehicles and drive connected-car features.
Electric bus maker Proterra raised $24 million in a growth funding round led by new utility investors Edison International and Constellation Energy, and joined by existing investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, GM Ventures, Mitsui and others. The round reportedly values the company at around $200 million.
Home energy management start-up EcoFactor closed on $10 million in new funding from new investor NRG Energy, as well as existing investors Claremont Creek Ventures, RockPort Capital Partners, and Aster Capital. The company says the new round will be used for growing the business and launching new products.
1366 Technologies, a developer of manufacturing technology that reduces costs and increases the efficiency of silicon wafer production for solar cells, raised $15 million in its Series C round from new investor and strategic partner Tokuyama Corporation. The round was joined by existing investors VantagePoint Capital Partners, North Bridge Venture …
| October 14th 2013
Here are some of last week’s top stories:
Achates Power raised a $35 million Series C round from existing investors to fund commercialization of its efficient opposed-piston combustion engines. Backers include Sequoia Capital, RockPort Capital Partners, Madrone Capital Partners, Interwest Partners, and Triangle Peak Partners.
Greenwave Reality a California-based developer of home energy monitoring and control solutions, expanded its Series B round with another $8 million, bringing the round total above $19 million. New investor The Westly Group joined the round with existing investor Craton Equity Partners.
Ontario-based waste-to-energy company Anaergia raised CAD $47.5 million ($46 million) in growth equity to help fund new projects. Investors include Macquarie Group, Tandem Expansion Fund, Export Development Canada, and Global H2O Investments
SolarCity made its first foray into the hardware side of the solar business with its $158 million acquisition of Zep Solar, a California-based maker of rooftop PV mounting and racking equipment. SolarCity expects the move to enable it to make its installation process more efficient. Zep had raised $7.4 million from Acquillian Investments.
To dynamically track deal-making activity in clean technology sectors, consider subscribing to our i3 Platform.…
| October 7th 2013
Monsanto announced last week that it would acquire The Climate Corporation in a deal valued at between $930 million and $1.1 billion. The Climate Corp had raised around $110 million from investors including New Enterprise Associates, Index Ventures, Khosla Ventures, and Google Ventures.
The week also saw some heightened venture activity, perhaps influenced by the close of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth. Two big deals stood out in the vehicle telematics space:
Telogis, a California-based fleet management solutions provider founded in 2001, raised $93 million in growth capital from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to help it deepen its location-based services platform as it readies for an IPO, possibly next year. And inthinc, a Utah-based player in the fleet management space, raised $24 million from K1 Capital Advisors.
Two other top deals during the week came from the Energy Efficiency space. LED company EcoSense Lighting raised $15 million from Bain Capital and new investor Flagship Ventures, while Sefaira, a developer of cloud-based efficiency software for building architects, raised $9.2 million – $7.2 million in equity from Braemar Energy Ventures, Chrysalix SET, and Hermes GPE, and $2 …
| September 30th 2013
The cleantech space produced several new financing rounds, partnerships, and acquisitions last week. Here’s a recap of some of the top deals:
Khosla Ventures announced that it would invest a further $50 million privately into publicly-traded biofuel maker KiOR. The company has missed production targets in the past but the investment is intended to help the company double capacity. KiOR’s stock price jumped 50 percent on the news.
Local foods start-up Good Eggs raised $8.5 million in a Series A round led by Sequoia Capital and joined by Baseline Ventures and others. The round will fuel expansion beyond the company’s current coverage areas of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and New Orleans.
Synthetic biology-to-chemicals start-up Synthace raised £1.3 million in seed money from Soffinova Partners‘ Green Seed Fund and angel investors. The company indicated that the funding would help it demonstrate production of chemical products prior to approaching the chemical industry to form partnerships.
Zoltek, a publicly traded manufacturer of advanced carbon fiber products for wind power, efficient vehicles, and other industries, was acquired by Toray for $584 million.
Ormat secured a contract with eBay to construct a recovered energy generation power plant in Utah to support …
| September 9th 2013
It was an exciting week in cleantech, with key venture rounds and partnerships secured by several start-ups. Leading the week’s news, Kaiima, a developer of high-yield seed technology for biofuels and chemicals, raised a large $65 million round to bring its total paid-in-capital above $90 million. New investors Horizon Ventures, International Finance Corporation, and Infinity Group joined this round alongside existing investors. Infinity Group has suggested the funds will be used at least partially to take the company’s high plant-yield technology to the Chinese agricultural market.
Following Solexel‘s big $40 million round expansion two weeks ago for its silicon gas-to-wafer technology, Silicor Materials, another innovator in the upstream segment of silicon PV, raised $6 million in new equity from Hudson Clean Energy Partners. Silicor Materials, formerly known as Calisolar, is developing technology for the upgrading of metallurgical-grade silicon for use in photovoltaics, to lower raw material costs in the solar module manufacturing process. The company has retained the services of R.W. Baird, an investment bank, to assist it in raising additional capital for the establishment of a manufacturing facility. Other companies to have raised capital in this upstream segment of silicon PV so far …
| September 3rd 2013
We’re back from our Labor Day holiday here in the U.S., and it’s time to take a look back at the week in cleantech:
It was disclosed via a regulatory filing that kerfless silicon PV company Solexel closed on additional financing in the growth equity round opened in June. As the number of participating investors remained the same, we presume the $40 million capital increase comes from existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, DAG Ventures, and Technology Partners. The round total stands at $54.7 million.
WaterSmart Software, which seeks to do for domestic water efficiency what Opower is doing for energy efficiency, closed on a $4.5 million Series A round. The round was led by new investor The Westly Group and included participation from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Physic Ventures, and Apsara Capital.
In the Transportation sector, fleet vehicle optimization company Local Motion raised $6 million in fresh capital from Andreessen Horowitz. The company, formerly an electric vehicle manufacturer known as Weng Motors, now provides software and kit to help companies and municipalities more efficiently share fleet vehicles among their staff.
In M&A, Millennium Power Solutions, a developer of intelligent battery energy …