Today in Cleantech

DowJones VentureWire writer Yuliya Chernova has some good reporting on the realities behind the $70 million that thin film solar maker NanoSolar raised recently. Chernova reveals that the raise was done at a pre-money valuation of $50 million, essentially wiping out most of the earlier preferred-share investors. $50 million is a far cry from the $2 billion valuation NanoSolar received in 2008, but what’s more enlightening than the numbers is the perspective of Uwe R. Feuersenger, the CEO of Swiss based Aeris Capital, the VC that invested in the latest round. Feuersenger maintains that most energy will come from wind and solar in 50 years and he got a good asset in NanoSolar for “almost free.” There’s definitely an argument to be made right now that there is huge value in solar, evidenced by some of the moves from Warren Buffet led Mid American Utility, which has picked up billions in solar development projects over the past six months. Equally interesting is Feuersenger’s belief that polysilicon prices will rise again, giving thin film makers an edge. If that turns out to be true, the thin film makers that survive will have some value to offer.

Buffett Charges Into Batteries, Electric Cars With BYD

Warren Buffett continues to stock up on energy bets. Earlier this month a subsidiary of Buffett’s investment firm Berkshire Hathaway, MidAmerican Energy Holdings, agreed to acquire Constellation Energy, and this weekend it came out that MidAmerican plans to spend $230 million to buy 10 percent of BYD, a Chinese firm that makes next-generation batteries, electric cars and consumer electronics parts.

MidAmerican’s investment was reportedly to support BYD’s green technology investments. BYD is supposed to start selling its electric vehicles in China this year and in Europe by 2010. The news caused a jump in the shares of BYD subsidiary, BYD Electronic, which makes cell phones parts.

MidAmerican and BYD are supposed to have a news conference on Monday and provide more details. Given Buffett is widely regarded as one of the best investors of our time, we’re hoping to see a lot more alternative energy bets in the future.

Earth2Tech’s EcoTour of Google Earth

[qi:_earth2tech] Google Earth’s bird’s-eye view of the globe is being used by environmentalists, concerned citizens, and yes, eco-bloggers, to map the effects of climate change, tag renewable energy plants, and point out environmental degradations of the land. Scientists, such as Dr. Jon Blower from the University of Reading, even use Google Earth to visualize multiple scientific geo-data sets, which can lead to new conclusions. Continue Reading.