Tag Archives: Energy Investors Funds

The Week In Green Energy: Go Big and Go Home

In certain corners of the green energy sector size does matter. Many green energy companies need to leverage scale to make a profit, and with steep capital requirements companies often need to seek out deep pockets to finance technological research and project development.

In the wind business the quest for scale involves building and deploying bigger wind turbine blades. This week the ever-present drive for scale led GE to acquire Wind Tower Systems. The deal allows GE to eventually sell wind developers a package of taller towers that support bigger blades. According to Wind Tower founder Tracy Livingston the bigger towers are 10-15% more energy efficient, and greater efficiency is the Holy Grail of green energy.

GE’s latest acquisition is yet another example in the wind sector of a large company buying a smaller developer. This trend impacts both technology providers and project developers. Over the past year we’ve seen Good Energies buy Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Champlin Wind, and United Technologies picked up Clipper Windpower.

The flurry of acquisitions is evidence that wind is becoming a large, capital intensive business. “Over the next decade the wind business will likely be controlled by a few, large integrated companies,” a renewable energy executive recently tells G.E.R. This is obviously welcome news to behemoths like GE, who are busy building a massive green energy potential. In effect GE is growing its market share by both buying the technology for bigger towers and simultaneously generating a larger overall footprint in the wind sector.

However, bigger isn’t always better in every aspect of the green energy business. Although pursuing economies of scale is a logical goal for any renewable energy company, it can also become a liability. Ask anyone involved with Tessera Solar, a unit of Irish renewable energy group NTR. This week Tessera chose to exit the California market when it sold its ambitious 709 megawatt Imperial Valley project in Southern California to AES Solar/Riverstone Holdings. It’s the second project Tessera has sold in as many months.

While both projects enjoyed state and federal support, they were hampered by legal and financial hurdles brought on by the two projects’ utility-scale size and billion dollar costs. The steep price tag meant that they could not be completed without government support, ensuring a long and expensive development process.

In additions, the solar thermal technology used by Tessera proved to be cumbersome, requiring sun-rich areas in sensitive desert regions guarded by Californian environmentalists. Activists and the local Quechan Indian tribe sued to block the Imperial project, and were ultimately granted a preliminary injunction by a San Diego judge. While GE is going big to take advantage of economies of scale, Tessera went big and is now being forced to go home.

VC and PE Watch

Last year Venture capital funds invested a record $192 million in Canadian-based cleantech and renewable energy companies.

The Westly Group, the Menlo Park, Calif. venture fund, is busy raising a third cleantech-focused venture fund and aims to reach a first close in the spring.

A company owned by Energy Investors Funds (EIF) acquired a Michigan developer and its 11 project strong pipeline.

Milpitas, Calif.-based Soladigm, a company that develops energy-efficient glasses for large buildings, added $10 million to its Series C round of venture funding.

Ramblings and Musings

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat, announced Friday that he will not run for re-election next year. As we’ve reported, the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee has been a prolific author of green energy bills. Last July Bingaman and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the Storage 2010 legislation, which, if enacted, would have provided energy storage companies up to $1.5 billion in federal tax credits. He also introduced energy legislation that, among other things, would create a Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA), a government-funded “green bank” that would finance green energy technologies. Sadly, the Republican resurgence in the House ensures that these bills have little chance of becoming law, at least for the next couple of years.

In a statement President Obama praised Senator Bingaman for being “a tireless advocate for preserving America’s natural resources and promoting a clean energy future.” Before leaving the Senate Bingaman will likely help push the president’s clean energy standard, proposed during the state-of-the union. The ultimate goal is to ensure that 80 percent of the U.S.’ electricity comes from clean energy sources by 2035.

Photo: jsturr, Flickr

Energy Investors Funds Acquires 11 Waste – To – Energy Projects

A company owned by Energy Investors Funds (EIF), the energy-focused private equity fund, has acquired a Michigan developer and its 11 project strong  pipeline.

Landfill Energy Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Energy Investors Funds, has paid an undisclosed amount for Innovative Energy Systems (IES), a Novi, Mich.-based company developing 11 waste-to-energy projects located in New York and Vermont. The IES portfolio includes developed projects with an installed capacity of 72 megawatts.

With this acquisition, Landfill Energy now holds the rights to develop 45 landfills in 16 states with 200 megawatts in projected capacity.

IES founder Peter Zeliff will maintain a minority ownership in Landfill Energy and stay on as senior vice president and chief operating officer.

This is the fourth major acquisition in the landfill gas-to-energy space by EIF.  “This transaction builds on EIF’s strategy of investing in a diversified portfolio of energy assets across fuel types and technologies, including significant investments in base load renewable energy,” said EIF Senior Vice President Jose Torres-Monllor, in a prepared statement. EIF holds a diversified portfolio of natural gas power generation and renewable assets.

NTE Energy Staffs Up, Hires Calpine Veterans For Business & Project Development

NTE Energy, which last month entered into a joint venture with Energy Investors Funds (EIF) to develop hybrid gas/solar power plants, has hired Mark Daley, director of strategic origination at Independent Power Producer Calpine, as executive vice president, power marketing. Prior to Calpine Daley worked for Florida Power Corporation, which is now known as Progress Energy Florida.

Continue reading NTE Energy Staffs Up, Hires Calpine Veterans For Business & Project Development

This Week In Green Energy: Ontario Green

Week of April 5 – to – April 9, 2010

Ontario is reaping the benefits of its innovative cleantech regulation.

This week, Ontario issued some $8 billion in new renewable energy contracts as part of the province’s year-old feed-in tariff program. Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, has pioneered the use of cleantech as a catalyst to create a “green collar economy.” Besides the feed-in tariff program, the province has also implemented the Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP), which backs renewable energy projects with long-term power purchase agreements with the Ontario Power Authority. These days, a bulk of the North American renewable energy projects securing financing is backed by RESOP power purchase contracts.

Back to the feed-in tariffs, in this latest round, the Ontario Power Authority announced 184 long-term power purchase contracts with wind, solar, hydro and landfill gas projects. Combined, these will generate about 2,500 megawatts of green power. Ontario claims its feed-in tariff has helped attract 694 green-energy projects since 2007, writes Techpulse360.

Continue reading This Week In Green Energy: Ontario Green

The Light Green Option: Energy Investors Funds To Build Gas/Solar Hybrid Power Plants

Energy Investors Funds has formed a joint venture with Saint Augustine, Fla., -based NTE Energy to build and operate hybrid power generation facilities in the U.S.

The plants will use a combination of natural gas and renewable sources like solar or biomass.

According to the joint release, the two companies are expected to announce projects in Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama in the near future. The two companies did not provide financial details.

Continue reading The Light Green Option: Energy Investors Funds To Build Gas/Solar Hybrid Power Plants

This week in green energy: Where is the money?

http://www.mpowrplus.com/images/content/worried.jpgIn these recessionary times it’s all about sticking to fundamentals:  steer away from exotic investments; invest in  30-year Treasuries; pay down the 17% APR credit card; and that island vacation…? forget about it….

That rule also seems to apply to the energy sector. There has been a lot of talk about a green-focused stimulus that will help build more wind or solar power stations and deploy cars running on carbon-free fuel cells.  But despite all this  goodwill and assured government money — not just in the U.S. but across the globe –  the clean energy sector remains at a standstill,  capital expenditure paralyzed.

The paralysis comes amidst anecdotal reports that the credit market have started to loosen up and money is flowing again, but  it seems that when it comes to energy, investors are also “sticking to fundamentals” and putting that money into “old energy.”

Case in point was the closing this week of a $3 billion project loan for the construction of the Dolphin Energy Project, a pipeline that once operational will pipe natural gas from Qatar to the United Arab Emirates. The financing was apparently a “roaring success,” according to  veteran industry publication the Middle East Economic Survey, which noted that 23 banks  participated in the syndicate.

Meanwhile, financing across the board — venture capital, private equity, or project finance — remains paralyzed in the clean energy sector, in a state of  “deep hibernation,” said a report issued this week by New Energy Finance.

To be fair, there is some deal flow, but mostly by investors that secured capital when it was still available. One of these was veteran energy-focused private equity fund, Energy Investors Funds (EIF), which this week  acquired a 30-megawatt biomass power project in Watertown, Conn.

Mountain View, Calif.,-based Ausra announced it had raised $25.5 million from current and new investors. Last January, GER reported that Ausra was scaling  back plans to build large utility-scale solar power plants because it was unable to secure financing to support such projects. Backed by a new business plan that is more in tune with  these lean economic times, the company says it will use this latest funding round to deploy smaller and cheaper power facilities that will generate clean electricity for  stand alone facilities like hospitals, oil refineries or food processors.  Last fall, in a separate financing round, the company raised more than $60 million.

A small slice of the stimulus pie did make its way this week to Miami where General Electric and Florida Power & Light said they would  partner to, over the next two years, develop a $200 million smart grid network for 1 million business and individual customers. Half of the project cost will be covered by stimulus money.

On earth day President Barack Obama made a strong appeal for comprehensive climate legislation and renewed his call for a new energy matrix, the first time he had done so in a while. His speech came just a few weeks after the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a draft of a comprehensive climate change bill.

In California the state’s Air Resources Board approved the nation’s first fuel standard that will seek to cut green house gas emissions by 10% by 2020. The regulations are the first in the nation and will be gradually phased in, starting January 1. The measure, which was approved in a 9-1 vote late Thursday,  seeks to reduce 16 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

Energy Investors Funds acquires 30 MW biomass plant

Energy Investors Funds (EIF), has acquired a 30-megawatt biomass power project that is under development in Watertown, Conn., from Tamarack Energy.  The acquisition was done via EIF’s  United States Power Fund III. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

As part of the acquisition some project management staff from Tamarack will transfer to EIF. The plant is expected to begin commercial operations in about two years.

Once operational the facility, which will generate electricity by burning small tree branches, stumps, old cargo pallets and trees taken down as part of forestry management programs,  will sell all of its output to Connecticut Light & Power.

EIF controls 4,000 megawatts of operating power assets, including 16 hydroelectric facilities and a portfolio of 19 landfill gas-fired facilities across the United States. The fund controls another 2,200 megawatts of power assets under development or construction.