This Weeks’ Cleantech Fundings & Deals Round Up

Project Frog Raises $20M in Series D Funding – Nov 7

Energy efficiency modular building developer Project Frog, founded in 2006, raised its latest round of funding from CCM US LLC and McNally Capital, along with the Cleantech Syndicate, a consortium of 13 family offices led by Black Coral Capital.

The company has been projected to reach $40 million in revenue in 2013 and has delivered over 7 times the square footage of buildings this year than they did in 2012.

Project Frog CEO Ann Hand said that with this latest infusion of cash the company is expanding its pipeline and will be delivering a significant number of buildings to some of the country’s largest school districts and healthcare providers, according to Tech Crunch.

Earlier funding rounds include $22M in Sept 2011 from GE, Claremont Creek Ventures, Greener Capital Partners and RockPortt Capital Partners.  It also received $5.2M in debt funding in 2010 and $8M in Series B funding in 2008.

Choose Energy Raises $7.5M Series B Round – Nov 7

Choose Energy, which allows consumers to compare retail electricity plans, raised $7.5 million in Series B funding from investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, BlueScape Resources, NGENPartners, Stephens Capital Partners and Michael Polsky. (see our profile of its acquisition of Power2Switch last month)

The company also appointed a new CEO, Kerry Cooper, a retail industry veteran, who will lead the expansion of Choose Energy into all 19 deregulated electricity states and 22 natural gas states in 2014, and help advance its platform to become the most visited and trusted online energy marketplace, according to the release.  Choose Energy founder, Jerry Dyess, will continue on with the company as its chief commercial officer.

Building Robotics Announces $1.14M Seed Funding Round – Nov 7

Building Robotics, creator of software for people in commercial buildings, announced it received $1.14M in seed money from Claremont Creek Ventures (CCV), which specifically invests in companies that merge intelligent, comprehensive product design with innovative technology. Google Ventures, Formation 8, Navitas Capital, Red Swan Ventures, as well as some angel investors, also contributed funding.

Building Robotics’ initial product, Comfy, provides comfortable spaces while saving energy. The software is designed to install quickly and easily, and is compatible with most existing building management systems. It provides instant warm or cool air to people and incorporates their usage patterns and feedback into a machine-learning algorithm that reduces energy.

This investment allows Building Robotics to invest in expertise in building management, development, back-end operations, and user experience design.

U.S. DOE Awards $84M to 18 New Carbon Capture Technologies – Nov 7

The DOE funded projects across the U.S. will focus on reducing the cost of limiting carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, as part of the President’s Climate Action Plan. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz made the announcement about the fundings at the annual Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C

The DOE has invested $6 billion in total into clean coal technologies. To view the complete list of the newly funded projects, click here 

Solar3D to Acquire Solar United Networks to Capture Commercial End Users – Nov 6

Solar3D, Inc., the California developer of 3-dimensional solar cell technology that maximizes solar conversion, plans to acquire 100% of California-based Solar United Networks, Inc. (SUNworks), a solar systems provider, according to an announcement. After the acquisition, SUNworks will continue operations as a wholly owned subsidiary of Solar3D.

SUNworks designs, installs, and manages commercial solar systems. SUNworks has the capability to deliver systems as big as 25 megawatts to commercial enterprises.  Revenue for 2013 is estimated to be in excess of $7,500,000, with pre-tax profits of almost $1,000,000.

“Acquiring SUNworks is a key part of our strategy going forward and gets us face to face with solar end-users every day,” said Jim Nelson, CEO of Solar3D.  While the company plans to focus on the commercialization of its Solar3D Cell technology, the SUNworks acquisition will allow it to get a chunk of the design and management side of the industry.

Terrajoule Raises $11.5M in Series A for Solar Power and Energy Storage – Nov 5

The developer of a flexible technology platform for distributed energy generation, energy storage, and energy efficiency, announced an $11.5 million Series A round of funding. Terrajoule investors include global venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA).  Air Liquide Investments in the future And Demonstration (ALIAD), the capital development company of Air Liquide, and individual investors also contributed to funding.

Terrajoule’s energy storage technology yields a cost five times lower than today’s batteries, and provides continuous, on-demand solar power generation, from 100 kW to 20 MW.  The company will continue to target industrial and agricultural applications including distributed electricity production, especially in locations with electrical grids that are inadequate to support economic growth.

NEA, a previous investor in the company, lauded its performance. Arno Penzias, NEA Venture Partner, Nobel Prize winner (Physics 1978) and Terrajoule advisor said, “Since NEA’s initial investment in 2009, the company has made outstanding technological progress.”  NEA General Partner Forest Baskett added, “By working through channel partners in industrial, agricultural and other sectors, the company can scale to play a major role in worldwide energy markets without the massive capital requirements that have posed significant challenges to other new energy technologies.”

California-based Jim Bochnowski, Australia-based Craig Winkler, and Greg Fleming, an investment director at Air Liquide, have joined Terrajoule’s board of directors.

EnTouch Controls Snags $8.25M in Series B Funding – Nov 5

EnTouch Controls, a provider of cloud-based energy management systems for restaurant and retail chains, announced it has raised a total of $8.25 million in Series B equity and debt financing.  Financing was lead by SJF Ventures, and a new investor, NRG Energy. Trailblazer Capital is also a funding source.

The money will be used to expand the company’s energy management services, speed development of energy analytics and load curtailment tools, and beef up staff.

According to EnTouch, energy is one of the most poorly managed operating expenses in small commercial facilities, and can cost restaurants and retail stores $20 billion per year.  Lowering energy costs by 10% is equivalent to increasing sales per square foot by $25 for retailers and $17 for restaurants.

EnTouch Controls software-as-a-service (SaaS) automation system is specifically designed for retrofit applications that enable small businesses to reduce energy costs.

“Significant investment has gone into energy management systems for large buildings and for homes, but very little into solutions for small retail facilities,” said David Kirkpatrick, SJF Managing Director and Co-Founder. “EnTouch’s system takes advantage of new wireless and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology to deliver immediate energy savings and ROI while providing enterprise-level analytics and controls for managers of hundreds of stores.” 

SunPower Invests in Robots – 11/4

SunPower paid an undisclosed amount of cash for Greenbotics, a California startup that makes robotic equipment for cleaning solar panels, according to a report in Forbes.  They made the investment after using the company’s products at a 25-megawatt solar farm it built in the state’s Central Valley.

Greenbotics’ technology both speeds up the cleaning process and uses less water to get the cleaning job done, according to SunPower CEO Tom Werner. Manually hosing down panels or pressure washing them with a sprayer mounted on a truck are the usual ways used to clean the panels, both of which wastes a lot of water due to run off.

The deal helps signal the increasing role robotics play in the solar business. QBotix, a Silicon Valley startup has designed a robot that moves along a track to visit each solar panel and rotate it at regular intervals.  Other companies are engineering robots to install solar panels in the field more efficiently.  According to a recent report in the New York Times, Alion Energy uses robots to automate the installation and maintenance of large-scale solar farms.

Hawaii Incubator Energy Excelerator Invests $5M in 15 Startups – Nov 7

After receiving $30M from the U.S. Dept. of Defense’s Office of Naval Research, the Energy Excelerator has invested a portion of the money in 15 startups, according to a report in VentureBeat. The incubator, which is led by former Booz Allen consultant Dawn Lippert,  plans to help Hawaii achieve its 70% clean energy goal by 2030 and focuses mainly on transportation, clean energy and smart grid technologies. It typically invests between $100,000 and $1 million per startup. The funded startups include:

Smart Grid and Energy Storage: Amber Kinetics, Inc. (flywheel energy storage), Ambri (liquid metal batteries), Ballast Energy, Inc. (lithium ion batteries), Shifted Energy (demand response solutions), Stem, Inc. (data analytics for advanced energy storage solutions).

Energy Efficiency: Effortless Energy (finance, technology and marketing efficiency tools), Ibis Networks (plug-load energy management), Navatek Ltd.(wind blade energy efficiency),  Open Power Quality (crowd sourcing power quality data collection), Oroeco (personal values social platform), People Power (enabling homeowners to control and monitor electrical devices), Pono Home (helps people reduce their utility costs in a one-time service), Pyro-E (harvesting vehicular and industrial waste heat)

Transportation & Bioenergy: Autowatts (helps consumers pair the purchase of an electric vehicle with a photovoltaic system), and TerViva (develops and commercializes new crops that grow sustainably on underproductive agricultural land).

Ambri Inc., one of the startups that recieved funding by the Energy Excelerator, launched their first battery manufacturing factory this week in Marlborough, Massachusetts to make a prototype of its liquid metal battery for deployment next year, according to a report by GigaOm. The company previously received $15M in Series B funding from Khosla Ventures and Bill Gates in 2012.


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