Propel fuels up with $21M for green gas stations

Alternative gas station company Propel Fuels has raised $21 million to build out its green gas stations throughout California and the west coast. The company is aiming for around 75 by the end of 2013, though it’s slower growth than the company had planned.

A solar greenhouse arises among the sand dunes

GlassPoint Solar just raised $26 million in venture capital and built a pilot project to prove that its solar steam equipment could help oil companies pry loose of heavy crude and make it easier to extract.

Cleantech is dead, like the Internet was in 2000

Check out an hour long discussion between myself and three cleantech investors about the state of cleantech, the future of cleantech — and importantly for them — where the money is for cleantech.

NEA on energy tech: We’re in it for the long haul

While some venture capitalists are moving away from funding cleantech startups, NEA — one of the oldest and most established VC firms out there — plans to stay in energy tech investing for the long haul and will continue to invest in new energy innovators.

Big data meets commercial building energy

Ditch the hardware and embrace big data and analytics — that could be the key to monitoring and managing energy consumption of commercial buildings. On Thursday startup FirstFuel Software announced that it’s raised $2.4 million from Battery Ventures and Nth Power, to scale up.

Propel to Build 75 Biofuel Stations in Cali

Propel Fuels, a startup trying to create a brand around alternative fuels, held a grand opening at a biofuel station in Oakland, Calif. on Tuesday and announced a plan to add 75 new stations in California by the end of 2011.

Latest Battery Startup Shutdown: Firefly Energy

Here’s the latest sign that the next-generation battery business is just really tough for startups: On Friday and over the weekend local Illinois media reported that Peoria, Illinois-based battery startup Firefly Energy has stopped operating. Specifically The Peoria Journal Star reported on Friday that Firefly Energy had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and that the city of Peoria and Peoria County plan to follow legal action to recover $6 million in government loans that they gave the startup in 2007 (the Associated Press also reported the story). On Saturday the Peoria Journal Star also reported that while Firefly Energy is clearly not operating anymore, there is some confusion about whether the company has officially filed for bankruptcy yet.
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Power Tool Batteries, the Gateway to Electric Vehicle Energy Storage

Imaraimage1Batteries for powertools and lawn equipment are increasingly looking like the gateway to electric vehicles for the energy-storage industry. Three-year-old battery startup Imara Corp. on Monday started selling its first product, battery cells for power tools and gardening equipment, about a year before it plans to introduce large-format batteries for electric vehicles.
The company claims that battery packs made from its cells — the one just launched for powertools is an 18650 cell, about the size of a AA battery — last longer than other batteries for the same applications. Using the batteries instead of gasoline in a typical 4-stroke lawnmower eliminates the emissions equivalent to 11 SUVs driving on the highway for an hour. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company is on schedule, given it had previously said it had planned to ship its first cells by the fourth quarter.
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Despite Thaw, Floodgates Could Stay Locked for Cleantech IPOs

floodgates-flickrborevagenA123Systems finally set the terms for its IPO in a new filing with the SEC this week more than a year after it first registered to go public. Like the Massachusetts-based battery maker, cleantech startups including electric car company Tesla Motors were eying the public markets before the economic downturn. But while A123’s IPO could begin to thaw the public markets for other cleantech startups if it gets a good response, it appears as if the ability to raise funds from the government and other big backers, combined with the relatively long development period required for these technologies, has led to a shift in the role of public offerings for the sector. As a result, it’s unlikely we’ll see the floodgates flung open for cleantech IPOs anytime soon.
VantagePoint Venture Partners managing director Stephan Dolezalek says two of the startups in VPVP’s portfolio that are near the front of the line for a public offering — Tesla and solar company BrightSource — won’t be going public until late 2010 at the very earliest “If the market stays the way it is today,” Reuters reports today. And public offerings, says Dolezalek, now serve more as “financing events” for alternative energy and other cleantech startups than a way for their investors and founders to cash in on equity, or “exit,” in industry parlance.
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