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Here’s the latest action we’re following today on the GreenBeat:
Nexterra Systems raises $15M for biomass power — The Candian company raised the cash from ARC financial and Tandem Expansion Fund. It makes small-scale biomass gasification systems that generate renewable heat and power systems. The company’s clients include the U.S. Department of Energy and Johnson Controls. It also has strategic relationships with GE and Johnson Controls. The cash will go towards market expansion.
Johnson Controls buys EnergyConnect for $32 million — Building energy efficiency company Johnson Controls will buy smart grid company Energy Connect for $32.3 million. The transaction is expected to close in July. Energy Connect specializes in a demand response technology, which helps companie cut their peak-time energy use and save money. Utilities with demand response programs also offer financial incentives for participation.
Better Place teams with Renault for electric car battery swaps — Electric car infrastructure startup Better Place opened today a center in Europe with its partner Renault, which makes the Renault Fluence Z.E. (pictured), an electric sedan. Better Place is unusual among other startups in that it offers battery swap stations, which allow users to swap out a depleted electric car battery for a fully-charged one — other companies like Ecotality and Coulomb offer charging stations. The Copenhagen, Denmark facility offers a subscription service with five fixed-price packages based on kilometers driven for Fluence Z.E. drivers. For 40,000 kilometers (about 25,000 miles) driven, an “all you can drive” option costs 399 euros a month, or about $557 a month. Other options include $278 to $348 per month packages. The Fluence Z.E. with Better Place mobility packages are expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Suntech still sees brisk European business — Despite cutbacks in government subsidies, solar panel manufacturer Suntech says it will sell half its production this year in Europe, Reuters reports. The company does forecast a global oversupply of solar panels this year, but sees it as a temporary situation. Half of its production last year also went to Europe, and Suntech expects that number to only drop slightly.
Enphase expands to Europe — The top solar microinverter company has expanded with its first European offices in France and Italy. The company has made more than 20,000 installations and shipped 500,000 units of its solar system equipment in North America, and says its expansion is aimed at capturing a share of the global inverter market. Europe is the world’s largest solar market, but there’s been some concern lately about government subsidy cutbacks there. Enphase says France, Italy and the Benelux region are gaining momentum in solar installations and are poised to rapidly adopt microinverters rather than the traditional larger, centralized inverter systems. Inverters convert energy generated by solar systems into usable energy for the grid, and microinverters — a hot area lately — accomplish the same thing, but more efficiently.
Amprius raises $25 million for next generation batteries — The company says the cash will go to commercialize what it says will be the next generation of lithium-ion batteries, signing on major new investors like Google CEO Eric Schmidt and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers. Amprius is looking to commercialize high energy, silicon-based materials to for batteries that it says will offer a “dramatic increase” in energy, range and runtime for consumer electronics and electric vehicles.