Today in Cleantech

Looks like algae that grows in the dark is a hit on Wall Street. At least, that’s how Solazyme’s IPO today seems to be turning out, as the algae-to-biochemicals and biofuels company saw its shares rise 20 percent, from their opening price of $18 per share to as high as $21.64, in early trading today. That adds up to about $197.55 million raised so far, compared to the South San Francisco, Calif.-based company’s initial plans to raise about $100 million. It appears that investors including The Roda Group, Braemar Energy Ventures, the Fiddler Group and Lightspeed Venture Partners will be seeing a healthy return on their bets. That wasn’t unexpected, necessarily — previous biofuel IPOs, such as Gevo and Amyris, have done quite well as well. But as one of the first credible algae biofuel companies to seek the support of the public markets, Solazyme serves as a special case. It should be noted that it’s also special among its other algae-to-biofuel contenders, in that its  algae are genetically engineered to grow in the dark in closed bioreactors while fed on sugar — much different than most algae companies that are seeking to grow algae in open ponds using sunlight and naturally occurring carbon dioxide. Now Solazyme will need to execute on its plans to supply algae oils to partners such as Dow Chemical and Sephora for various industrial and consumer products purposes, as well as seek a path to large-scale production for fuel, the biggest plum in terms of future markets — and the hardest to tackle in terms of low-cost production.