Mercom Capital Group, llc, a clean energy communications and consulting firm, released its report on funding and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity for the solar sector during the second quarter of 2013. Solar venture capital : (VC) investments increased to $189 million (M) in 19 deals in Q2 2013 compared to $126M in 26 deals in Q1 2013. Solar downstream : companies received most of the funding with $128M. Total corporate funding in the solar sector including, VC funding :, debt financing and other types of funding raised by public companies through sale of shares totaled $915M.
“With solar technology companies struggling, investments have been going to downstream companies,” commented Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group. “That said, investments into solar technology companies haven’t completely dried up. Small venture rounds are still going to several niche technology companies instead of the larger deals that were typical for thin film:, CSP: and CPV:companies.” The largest VC deals in Q2 2013 included the ~$69M raised by Chinese developer Hefei Golden Sun Energy Technology. Clean Power Finance raised $42M from Edison International, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Google Ventures, Claremont Creek Ventures, Clean Pacific Ventures, Sand Hill Angels, Hennessey Capital, Duke Energy, and others. Solexel raised $14.8M, followed by Tigo Energy which raised $13M from Alon Ventures. Scifiniti raised $10M from Alloy Ventures, Firelake Capital Management, I2BF Global Ventures and Peninsula Ventures.
Solar lease companies raised $1.33 billion (B) in disclosed residential and commercial solar project funds this quarter Solar M&A : activity in Q2 2013 amounted to $1.27B in 18 transactions. Themes emerging out of this quarter’s M&A activity included: consolidation in the inverter market, strategic acquisitions, and acquisitions of distressed assets/companies. The largest disclosed M&A transaction by dollar amount in Q2 2013 was ABB’s acquisition of inverter company, Power-One, for approximately $1B. Announced large-scale project funding in Q2 2013 came in at $2.94B. Solar Star Funding, the wholly owned subsidiary of Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy, completed a $1B bond offering this quarter, the largest solar bond financing deal to date. There were more than 670 MW of disclosed projects that changed hands in Q2 2013. Loans, credit facilities and other types of debt agreements from Chinese banks now stand at about $53B.
Organic Transit, manufacturer of the ELFpedal/electric vehicle, is moving to a larger facility in Durham and opening a West Coast manufacturing center in San Jose. Organic Transit has outgrown the old retail furniture store where it began in 2011 in downtown Durham. The new location, located just a few blocks away near Durham’s Central Park District, is 7,500 square feet, much more appropriate than the present location. The company will use sustainable design in the building renovation and implement a higher-volume manufacturing process.
The company builds the ELF, a pedal and solar electric powered vehicle.”We love the old building, and it was perfect for getting us into business,” said Rob Cotter, Organic Transit Founder and CEO, “But like Henry Ford realized 100 years ago, we need more room for a proper assembly line to increase our productivity.” “We will utilize recycled and upcycled materials in our build out. And the building is being prepared with skylights, LED lighting, edible gardens, green walls and bee hives.”
Organic Transit is also opening a San Jose manufacturing facility in partnership with Good Karma Bikes, a non-profit that trains homeless individuals to become bicycle mechanics. Cotter said the San Jose location will also be a base to make local deliveries of vehicles and act as a regional maintenance facility.
The internationally recognized Sunswift solar car racing program at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia recently debuted their revolutionary new solar racer “eVe”. The eVe not only inspires with its stunning design but also demonstrates long-term ecological sustainability. The students who volunteer their efforts to Sunswift created eVe in the hopes of capturing another team championship at the 2013 World Solar Challenge (WSC) – the pinnacle event for solar racing.
At this year’s WSC taking place in October teams from top universities and private institutions around the world will compete in a 3,000 km race across Australia’s Outback from Darwin to Adelaide relying solely on the sun’s energy to power their cars. This year, eVe races in the ‘cruiser’ class, a class that rewards entrants for incorporating practical motoring features into their advanced solar technology vehicles.
Sunswift has teamed with ToyLabs to impart these invaluable science lessons to school kids. The Sunswift team uses the Volta Racer to share their passion and to inspire future generations of scientists and engineers through a series of hands-on workshops located at the University of New South Wales Engineering School and at various location en-route to WSC. During the workshops kids get to build the Volta Racer and learn about Sunswift’s innovative work on eVe. UNSW engineering student and Sunswift Project Director ‘Alex To’ went so far as to liken the Volta Racer to a “miniature version of the car we build. Both vehicles, in fact, use the same direct solar to power conversion methods to provide electricity to their motors. The Volta Racers allow these kids to have a practical hands-on experience building their very own electric car while learning about basic mechanical engineering, electronics and using solar as a sustainable energy application.”ToyLabs founder ‘Tim Curley’ is honored to lend his support to Sunswift’s efforts. “ToyLabs wants to help inspire kids to become the world’s next generation of scientists and engineers – just like the extremely bright students at UNSW working on eVe.“
MCE (Marin Clean Energy), a program offering cleaner energy choices for electric customers in Marin County and the City of Richmond, sponsored GRID Alternatives’ largest installation event earlier this of the year at the May 8th annual Bay Area Solarthon.On September 7, 2013 solar panels were installed on the roofs of more than 8 low income homes in Richmond’s Iron Triangle. The Solarthon community installation event is, a fundraiser and solar block party that brings together hundreds of people including individual fundraisers, corporate sponsors, job trainees, community leaders and the homeowners themselves to install multiple solar systems in one neighborhood in a single day.
The funds raised at the Solarthon event are used to further support GRID Alternatives’ work to bring clean, affordable energy and hands-on solar installation experience to families and workers that need it most. Participants get hands-on experience installing solar with and for local families.
MCE offers its customers 50 percent renewable energy, more than twice that offered by PG&E, at affordable rates and also has one of the best Net Energy Metering programs in California. “The Solarthon event aligns with our mission and goals to provide local clean energy alternatives and demonstrates our commitment to environmental and community sustainability,” said Dawn Weisz, Executive Officer of the Marin Energy Authority, which administers MCE. “We’re pleased to support this event and GRID Alternatives as another way to foster community control, workforce development and renewable energy in Richmond.”
SunPower and Mid Atlantic Solar join forces to begin construction of the largest solar energy system in the world.