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Biofuel investing falls as sector matures

Investing in biofuel companies that produce oil-alternatives fell 5.4 percent to $930 million in 2010, down from $980 invested in alternative fuel companies in 2009, according to a report from cleantech analysis firm Lux Research.

Algae biofuels for less than $40 a barrel?

That green stuff in your koi pond could power the world for less than $40 a gallon, if Australian biofuels company Algae.Tec has its way.

Did Solazyme just drop the “fuel” in biofuel?

Biofuels producer Solazyme inked a massive deal with Dow Chemical today to ship up to 60 million gallons of its algae-based oil as an insulating chemical for electric transformers in 2015.

Monsanto invests in Sapphire for algae, crops research

Global agriculture and biotechnology giant Monsanto has taken an undisclosed equity stake in biofuels player Sapphire Energy. The two companies will also team up for a multi-year research collaboration.

VentureBeat’s best and worst of cleantech in 2010

It’s been quite a year for energy-related investments and other ventures looking to make some green from green. Here’s a look back on the biggest successes and flops of 2010.

On the GreenBeat: MiaSolé to raise $100 million ahead of IPO, Amyris shoots for $122 million

MiaSolé aims to raise $100 million in sixth-round funding in advance of a 2011 IPO, according to Green Tech Media. The article cites a report from Birchmere Ventures, which names Morgan Stanley as the underwriter for the thin-film solar panel maker’s planned IPO. Thin-film has lagged in producing efficiency rates equal to that of its crystalline silicon counterparts – and Applied Materials abandoned its thin-film efforts this year. Key is MiaSolé’s claim (and the confidence of its backers) that it can produce solar panels at a competitive efficiency (15.5 percent) and price (70 cents per watt) by the end of 2012.

On the GreenBeat: SG Biofuels gets $9.4 million in first round, Toyota to launch six new hybrids by 2012

In its $9.4 million first-round financing, SG Biofuels has attracted the backing of a subsidiary of Koch Industries – the first time the oil and agriculture conglomerate has invested in biofuels. SG Biofuels makes fuel from the inedible seed of the jatropha plant (pictured). Oils produced from jatropha could be made for less than $1 a gallon, Earth2Tech reports.

On the GreenBeat: A123 opens battery plant, Siemens targets India

A123 opens largest lithium-ion battery plant in the U.S. The Livonia, Mich. plant will expand the company’s manufacturing capabilities by up to 600 megawatt-hours per year, with the goal of ramping up to a total 760M megawatt-hours by next year’s end. The announcement comes one year after A123 was awarded a $249 million grant as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As GigaOm notes, A123’s IPO last year opened at $17 per share but now trades at less than $10 per share. Another Michigan-based battery player, Sakti3, made news last week for winning a $3.2 million investment from the venture capital arm of GM.

Aurora’s rebranding bets on protein bars and lotion, not biofuel

Aurora Biofuels is no more. The company announced today it has changed its name to Aurora Algae, effectively repositioning itself in a crowded biofuels market by no longer tying its name or products to just biofuels. Rather, it will leverage its proprietary strain of algae to produce pharmaceuticals, protein bars and oils that can be used in hand creams.

PetroAlgae chances weak green IPO market with $200M filing

PetroAlgae, a company claiming that it has found a cheap way to convert algae into fuel — a goal that formidable competitors like Sapphire Energy and Solazyme are also chasing — just filed for a $200 million IPO despite a weak public market for green companies. Early signs suggest that this move could do more harm than good to the burgeoning algae industry.

Solazyme bottles $52M for algae-based fuel

San Francisco-based biofuel company Solazyme announced today that it has landed $52 million in a fourth round of venture capital to commercialize its algae-based fuel. Morgan Stanley joined its flock of backers, which also includes Chevron Technology Ventures.