CleanTech & Sustainable Finance News Roundup: Harley Accelerates Move Toward Electric Motorcycles

EV UPDATE: Harley Accelerates Move Toward Electric Motorcycles

Iconic motorcycle-maker Harley-Davidson is speeding up its move into electric bikes by taking an equity stake in a California electric cycle maker. The deal with Alta Motors is expected to let Harley bring an electric motorcycle to market within the next two years.

It comes as oil giant BP has dramatically increased its forecast for EVs, saying there will be 180 million on the world’s roads by 2025, up 80% from its previous outlook.

Electric motorcycles and scooters have gained some traction among consumers, with so-called e-scooters in particular growing in popularity across Asia. Brisbane, Calif.-based Alta already makes high-performance electric dirt bikes and street bikes. Its bikes don’t have clutches or gears, making them easier for new riders to handle.

The size of Harley’s investment in Alta was not disclosed. Alta has raised $44 million in previous rounds, including a $27 million Series B last summer. Past investors have included Tesla, Cedarville Investments, Grassy Creek Ventures, Mountain Nazca and Modara Technologies.

Harley introduced a prototype electric motorcycle, called LiveWire, in 2014. A year later, snowmobile maker Polaris acquired electric motorcycle manufacturer Brammo. Analysts say Harley needs to develop electric bikes to attract new riders as the company’s core market grows older and “ages out” of motorcycling.

Meanwhile, BP, in an energy forecast it released last month, says it expects electricity will power about one-third of the total vehicle-miles driven in 2040.

BP thinks clean energy will make up about 40% of the growth in energy supply in coming years. CEO Bob Dudley says the transition to clean energy will be slow, however, with natural gas an important part of the shift.

The energy company recently paid $200 million for a stake in a British solar developer, Lightsource Renewable Energy, and is reportedly considering bidding for an Italian solar company as well.

In Other EV News:

UPS to Build Fleet of  Electric Trucks: UPS is partnering with truck maker Workhorse Group to built its own fleet of electric delivery trucks. The first 50 vans will hit the road later this year, and UPS’s own electric trucks could someday replace its entire existing fleet of road vehicles, which numbers about 35,000. UPS already has more than 300 EVs and 700 hybrid electric vehicles across the U.S. and Europe, and has ordered electric trucks from both Tesla and Daimler. (See CleanTechIQ’s Commercial Vehicles Increasingly Go Electric.)

Colorado Gov’t Boosts EVs: The Colorado government is taking steps to grow the number of EVs on  the state’s roadways. The new Colorado EV Plan calls for nearly a million light-duty EVs by 2020, through efforts that include growing the number of employers that offer workplace charging to their workers and speeding up the planned purchase of state-owned EVs. As the state spends more on EVs, it will scale back its spending on other alternative-fuel vehicles like compressed natural gas and propane. Colorado held the eighth-largest market share of EVs in the U.S. last year.

News Briefs: Noteworthy Deals and Investments

C&I solar project developer Sol Systems raised $100 million from Nationwide Mutual Insuranceon Feb. 7 to form a new fund that will acquire U.S. solar projects. The move comes amid growing demand from institutional investors for renewable energy. The new fund, the Helios Infrastructure Fund, plans to buy more than 330 MW of solar over the next year and expects to raise another $400 million in debt and tax-equity financing. (See CleanTechIQ’s Distributed Solar Deployment Opportunities, Financing Models & Key Players.)

Silicon Valley-based project developer Concentric Power will finance$100 million in cogeneration and microgrid projects over the next two years. The program, announced on Feb. 7 and backed by an undisclosed institutional fund, provides funding for projects ranging from $1 million to $40 million, with cogen modules ranging in size from 400 kW to 2.5 MW. Concentric now offers cogeneration, sustainable microgrid systems and selected large scale solar and battery storage solutions. (See CleanTechIQ’s The Business Case for Microgrids Grows, Attracts Major Investors.)

Montreal-based waste-to-biofuels and chemicals developer Enerkem raised $222 million in a new funding round on Feb. 6 that saw participation from BlackRock and China’s Sinobioway Group. In January, Enerkem signed a separate agreement with Sinobioway to create a $100 million joint venture that will lead the construction of more than 100 Enerkem biofuel facilities in China by 2035.

Berlin-based indoor farming startup InFarm raised $25 million on Feb. 4 in a Series A round led by Balderton Capital. The company grows leafy greens in modular growing units that are placed inside grocery stores. The company raised $4.5 million of seed funding last year from Atlantic Food Lab, Cherry Ventures, IDEO, LocalGlobe and Quadia. InFarm is running a pilot program with the Metro supermarket chain and is also working with EDEKA, Germany’s largest supermarket company. (See CleanTechIQ’s Indoor Vertical Farms Yield Growing Investor Interest – Industry Analysis & Funding Activity)

Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, Temasek Holdings, led a $24.7 million Series A round for Berkeley, Calif.-based Perfect Day, an animal-free dairy producer, on Feb. 27. Horizons Ventures, a Hong Kong venture capital firm, also joined the funding round, along with food industry players Continental Grain, Iconiq Capital, Lion Ventures, Verus International and others. Founded in 2014, Perfect Day’s dairy proteins allow food manufacturers to formulate animal-free products with less reliance on starches, gums and stabilizers.

FoodLogiQ raised $8 million in Series C funding on Feb. 15 from unnamed investors. The Durham, N.C.-based company provides traceability, food safety compliance and supply chain transparency software solutions to customers that include Whole Foods, Subway and Chipotle, according to its website. In October, it raised $4.3 million from venture capital firm Renewal Funds.

Ann Arbor, Mich.-based startup May Mobility, which is developing fleets of self-driving micro-shuttles, raised $11.5 million in seed funding on Feb. 26, with part of it coming from BMW iVentures and Toyota AI Ventures. The company was launched last year by founders who include veterans from Ford, GM and Toyota, according to an official release. (See CleanTechIQ’s Electric Vehicles Pick Up Steam, Driven by Gov’ts and Car Makers)

Australia’s green bank, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, committed $100 million to a new agriculture fund from Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA), the world’s largest infrastructure investor, on Feb. 20. The new fund will invest in crops like wheat, grains and avocados and will implement precision farming techniques and target “improved on-farm energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions,” the CEFC says. The new fund could be worth as much as $1 billion when it is fully invested.

Other Recent News Items of Note:

Spain’s BBVA Pledges $100m to Green Finance: As investors and regulators are pressuring banks to increase their responses to climate change, Spanish bank BBVA says it will finance at  least $100 million worth of renewable energy other other sustainable projects by 2025. The bank says it will also stop financing new coal mines and coal-fired power plants, with some exceptions. Activist group ShareAction says BBVA’s pledge is a “huge step forward” but adds that the bank still needs to end all coal finance activities, as well as its support for ultra-deepwater drilling for oil and gas. (See CleanTechIQ’s Big Banks Commit to Clean Energy, Sustainable Financing )

New tech for farming: New satellite technology that Swedish firm Vultus is launching this month aims to reduce farmers’ nitrogen fertilizer use by 40%, saving time and money while reducing carbon emissions. Vultus will use satellite imagery of fields to identify conditions, and its software will give farmers an analysis of how much nitrogen fertilizer to use. The technology will be available to farmers worldwide at a cost of about $1.20 per hectare (about 2.5 acres), and the company estimates its use will save a medium-sized farm about $18,000 per year.

Regulatory Boost for Energy Storage: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a rule last month that will enable energy storage to compete against traditional power plants and other grid resources in wholesale power markets. Under the new rule, utilities can use batteries to dispatch power, set energy prices and offer capacity, energy and ancillary services, says Bloomberg. The rule gives energy storage more access to energy markets; it also removes barriers that have been lamented by leading battery project developers like Advanced Microgrid Solutions.

ING, EIB Back Sustainable Shipping Projects: The European Investment Bank and ING have committed to make €300 million ($370 million) available  for green investments in shipping across Europe. The two organizations will each put €150 million in a new facility that will fund sustainable maritime transport projects, including building new ships or retrofitting existing ones to be more green.

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