KiOR Lands Chevron JV as Biocrude Buyer

KiOR, the biofuel startup that’s planning a $100 million IPO this year and seeking a $1 billion federal loan guarantee, has just landed a second sizable potential customer: Catchlight Energy, a JV between subsidiaries of oil giant Chevron and forest products giant Weyerhaeuser.

Biofuels, Bioplastics Startups Getting Sparse, Lux Says

Grab your biofuel startups fast, Lux Research says — the field of contenders with game-changing technologies for turning non-food feedstocks into useful hydrocarbons is getting sparser by the minute. The report sees Big Oil and consumer products conglomerates quickly winnowing the field of the best technologies.

Solazyme Draws Richard Branson, Unilever To Algae

Algae fuel startup Solazyme already had a long list of backers — from Chevron’s VC arm to Morgan Stanley — but this week, the company says it’s added two more high profile names: investor Richard Branson and food and personal product giant Unilever.

MiaSole Progress Report: 8.5MW Deal with Juwi

This year is shaping up to be a pretty good one for MiaSole, which began to disclose its customers earlier this year after spending roughly two years to get the manufacturing technology right. The Kleiner Perkins-backed company on Tuesday said it has a deal to supply Juwi with 8.5 megawatts of solar panels.

Project Brightfield: Chevron Launches Solar Test Bed

Oil giant Chevron (s CVX) has an itch to test out early stage solar technology. This morning Chevron plans to show off a solar test bed in Bakersfield, Calif., dubbed Project Brightfield, that will use seven “emerging pre-commercial” solar photovoltaic technologies. The companies providing the technology range from massive corporation to small startups, and include: Sharp, Abound Solar, Miasole, Schuco, Solar Frontier, Solibro and Innovalight.

Project Brightfield, a 740 kW project with 7,700 solar panels, will be built on an 8-acre dirt plot where Chevron formerly ran a refinery that belched out gasoline and asphalt. Chevron’s solar testbed news comes on the heels of the oil giant announcing last month that it will build a 1 MW concentrating solar photovoltaic system on the tailing site of a mine in Questa, New Mexico using technology from Concentrix Solar, a Freiburg, Germany-based company.
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Chevron Jumps Into Concentrating PV Solar, Courtesy of Concentrix

Concentrating photovoltaic solar technology — which uses mirrors and lenses to focus sun rays onto high efficiency photovoltaics — is such an unusual hybrid technology that I wasn’t expecting many big firms to tackle it. But lo and behold, this afternoon Chevron (s CVX) announced that its venture arm Chevron Technology Ventures will build a 1 MW concentrating solar photovoltaic system on the tailing site of a mine in Questa, New Mexico owned by Chevron subsidiary Chevron Mining Inc.

Chevron says when the 175-panel project is built on 20 acres — construction will start this Spring and is planned to be finished before the end of the year — it will be the “largest CPV installation in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world.” Chevron will use CPV technology from Concentrix Solar, a Freiburg, Germany-based company that was spun out of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in 2005, and was sold to microelectronics supplier the Soitec Group in December. (Soitec bought 80 percent of the shares and 20 percent remain owned by Fraunhofer ISE and the company’s founders and senior management).
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First Look and Impressions of Google’s Nexus One

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Although it’s only been a few days with the Google Nexus One (s goog) — and hectic days, at that — here’s a first look at the device along with some basic early impressions. Overall, it’s not a ground-breaking device, although it does use a hot, new processor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon (s qcom). I’m still getting used to the keyboard, and I’m not thrilled about how much the screen smudges. But the display is gorgeous, the camera is quite good, and I’m very impressed with the integrated voice input.

More to follow as I fly home from Vegas and get used to the new device!

GE Grabs $400M Carbon Capture & Natural Gas Deal With Chevron

naturalgas2Carbon capture and sequestration — taking carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities, and shoving them underground — represents one of the higher stakes bets in the fight against climate change. It’s unproven at large scale, yet deemed essential by the International Energy Agency and Energy Secretary Steven Chu as a tool for reducing greenhouse gas emission.

But it won’t come cheap. Case in point: General Electric (s GE) has just announced that its Oil & Gas division has won a $400 million contract from Chevron to supply equipment for the energy behemoth’s liquified natural gas (s LNG) production and carbon sequestration at a site in Western Australia. According to GE, it will be the largest carbon dioxide injection project in the world.
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Wave Power Funding: Ireland’s Wavebob Raises Interim Round

Wavebob_PICOcean power is managing to float forward during the recession, thanks in large part to government programs and to a lesser extent, private funding. The latest example is 10-year-old wave power company Wavebob, with CEO Andrew Parish telling us this week that it’s raised €3 million ($4.4 million) in a mix of equity funding and grants. Parish views the funds as an interim round that will give the Maynooth, Ireland-based company some breathing room as it works to raise a larger one (Business & Leadership reported that Wavebob was seeking €25 million back in June).

The smaller round is “a reflection of the current climate,” Parish said. “We started the year with the ambition to raise a lot of money and realized it was going to be difficult and expensive.” WaveBob plans to start raising another round of roughly $20 million in the first quarter of next year, by which time Parish predicts fundraising conditions will improve. For one thing, he expects stimulus funding for marine power to start flowing next year.
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