Today in Cleantech

Monday brings news of some big money for home security automation with energy management on the side. IControl, a startup backed by Comcast, General Electric, Cisco, Kleiner Perkins and others, has raised a $50 million series D round, bringing its total haul to more than $100 million. As I mentioned last week, iControl is one of the startups that’s tackling low-cost home automation from the home security front, while also allowing levels of energy management via thermostat, lighting and other electrical load controls. People have yet to have a chance to prove they’re willing to pay for cutting their energy use through technology, but home security is a proven, existing market. It’s also a market that’s being pushed by a whole host of big corporate backers, including Comcast’s new Xfinity Home Security service. I’m guessing iControl’s new $50 million will be supporting the startup’s leading role in Comcast’s rollout of that service. I’m curious to see to what extent energy savings plays a part in how the service is laid out to its customers, in terms of its emphasis on the dashboards that customers look at, and the reports they’re delivered at the end of the month.

Enphase Energy IPO: By the numbers

Enphase Energy, which makes small distributed microinverters for solar panels, filed an S-1 yesterday for a $100 million IPO. Here’s the breakdown of how much Enphase is earning, spending, and shipping, and who will win out in the public debut.

Today in Cleantech

Some news from Bloom Energy this morning. First, from Dow Jones VentureWire comes a report that the ultra-hyped, Silicon Valley solid-oxide fuel cell maker has raised an additional $100 million to add to its existing war chest of $400 million raised from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates, and Morgan Stanley. Next, we learn from Bloom that it will indeed be selling its natural gas-fueled Bloom Energy Servers via a power purchase agreement model to be called Bloom Electrons. Instead of paying for the fuel cell up front (they cost $700,000 to $800,000 apiece), customers can sign a 10-year contract to buy the electricity they produce at a set price, earning some green cred and a reliable backup power source to boot. Just how Bloom will price its contracts is the big question. Lux Research predicts Bloom’s fuel cells could produce power for 8 to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, taking federal and state subsidies and 24/7 operation into account and assuming natural gas is selling for $7 per million BTU. That’s just under U.S. average grid power prices of 11 cents per kWh. But absent government support, Bloom’s power cost rises to 13 to 14 cents per kWh, Lux predicts — a tough sell for a PPA.

Today in Social

Old-school VC Kleiner-Perkins launched a new $250 million fund targeting social media. (Don’t all funds have a social play these days?) Partner Bing Gordon, ex of gamer Electronic Arts, will head it, and Amazon, Facebook, Zynga, Liberty Media, Comcast, and Allen & Co. are partners. Liz Gannes points out that Kleiner established itself back in the day, but missed out on Facebook and YouTube, though Gordon got them into Zynga. Recapturing old glory or re-establishing relevance? Sure, but is it worth live-blogging?

Al Gore’s 5 Steps To Deliver 100% Clean Power in a Decade

While Al Gore was rallying the Web 2.0 troops to fight climate change on Friday, this weekend the former V-P and Nobel Peace laureate now turned green VC set his sights on the New York Times op-ed page, where he laid out five steps needed to achieve his ambitious (if not unrealistic) U.S. clean energy plan.
Gore is calling for 100 percent of U.S. electricity to be from renewable power within 10 years. How on earth is that achievable? Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt has a similar plan, but closer to a 20-year time frame. Gore says the answer is federal incentives and Obama needs to help ASAP, though he gives very few details on what each step would actually entail. What do you think?:
1). Large-scale federal incentives for constructing solar thermal, wind and advanced geothermal power plants. No word from Gore on how big those incentives should be.
2). Spend $400 billion over 10 years to build out a national smart grid that can connect renewable energy in remote locations to the cities where people will use it.
3). Help out not only Detroit but the struggling electric vehicle startups, and build a national fleet of plug-in hybrids that can help with storing energy for the grid.
4). Implement a national green retrofit plan for buildings, which can be combined with the congressional mortgage proposal.
5). Put a price on carbon and lead the way beyond Kyoto in the international community.

Kleiner, Index Invest $34.5M in Rubber Recycler Lehigh

Rubber recycling startup Lehigh Technologies today confirmed that it recently received funding from green VC bigwig Kleiner Perkins and London-based Index Ventures. The five-year-old Naples, Florida-based startup, which freezes and pulverizes scrapped tires and sells the rubber powder, added that the investment came in at a sizable $34.5 million, and that existing investors NGP Energy Technology Partners and Florida Gulfshore Capital also participated in the round.

According to the release, this is actually Index Ventures’ first green investment. Index has a long history of success investing in Internet companies like Skype, so this is yet another example of a firm that’s done well with dot-com and is now dabbling in cleantech. As the Economist points out this week, it’s the same players all over again (and check out our own list of 25 Who Ditched Infotech for Cleantech.

Recycling and selling used rubber powder from used tires seems like it could be not only environmentally friendly but make these firms a significant return on investment. Unlike many startups that are in the R&D and experimental phase, Lehigh says that more than 30 million tires on U.S. roads contain some of the company’s powder. That powder comes from an 83,000-square-foot manufacturing plant near Atlanta that can produce 100 million pounds of rubber powder per year. With this funding, Lehigh is looking to expand that production number.