Concentrating solar firm GreenVolts nabs $30M, working on utility project

GreenVolts, a San Francisco company taking the approach of focusing large amounts of sunlight onto small, high-efficiency solar cells — called concentrating solar photovoltaic (CPV) — has raised a significant $30 million funding from the giant venture firm Oak Investment Partners.

Brammo raises $10M for electric motorcycles

It may not sound as impressive as Fisker Automotive’s whopping $65 million haul, but Brammo’s $10 million first round, led by Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, Best Buy Venture Capital (yes, you read that correctly) and others, is nothing to sneeze at. The Ashland, Ore.-based developer of the Enertia, a lightweight GPS-equipped, web-enabled electric bike that gets 35-45 miles per charge, says that the proceeds will be enough to allow it to go into production and deliver its first full product line, according to PEHub.

NanoH2O secures $15M for desalination

It’s a testament to how much traction the once dormant water sector has gained that desalination, not long ago considered a risky, prohibitively expensive technology, is getting second looks from some high-profile investors. NanoH2O, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based developer of reverse-osmosis membranes, is the latest beneficiary of this trend, announcing earlier this week that it had raised $15.05 million in second round funding from Oak Investment Partners and Khosla Ventures.

BioPetroClean raises $5M for biological water purification

BioPetroClean, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based water purification company, has closed its second round of financing with $5 million from 21 Ventures, which invested $3.5 million in its first round. The money will help the company set up a sales network and fund a number of new projects, according to Globes.

Sapphire Energy getting the green for its algal biofuel

Well-known but still young biofuel company Sapphire Energy has more than doubled its funding to more than $100 million for its “green crude,” a fuel it says will mimic the best characteristics of the oil we drill for today.

PowerGenix gets $30M for electric scooter batteries

Alt-chemistry battery maker PowerGenix has significantly upped its funding with a $30 million fourth round. The company plans to make batteries for electric vehicles, power tools, electronics and other applications.

Tesla Motors to site its manufacturing plant in San Jose

Tesla Motors, the heavily-funded electric car company that produces the high-end Roadster sports car, has settled on a location in San Jose, Calif. for its manufacturing plant to make a more market-oriented car model.

Roundup: Green chemicals get started, gaming is ubiquitous, MySpace Music slowed again, and more

Genomatica creates renewable chemical from sugar water — While most chemicals are petroleum-based, several startups are trying to create new alternatives. One of the first to succeed is Genomatica, which says it has a cheap process to make 1,4-butanediol, a component chemical of many common materials, from sugar and water, potentially disrupting a $4 billion industry. More on Genomatica’s process here.

Anagran gets $8.6 million for network traffic management

Anagran, a Sunnyvale, Calif. company that builds “flow management” products to help handle traffic on Internet service provider (ISP) and corporate networks, has taken $8.6 million in a fourth funding round.

Advanced Electron Beams promises a low-energy revolution for industry

Sometimes, a nice jet of flames is the best way to get a job done. More often, it’s not. Advanced Electron Beams, which just took a new round of funding led by General Electric’s venture arm, is a company that wants to help industries conserve energy by shifting away from traditional but wasteful practices, like burning or heating material with fire, to a more efficient alternative.

Soasta raises $6.4M for cloud-based testing

Mountain View, Calif.-based Soasta, a company that tests applications on cloud networks to iron out problems before users migrate to the cloud, has raised a second funding round of $6.4 million.

BitTorrent picks up $17 million as it shifts gears

Coming on the heels of our post yesterday morning about BitTorrent’s new partnerships, it has emerged that the company has taken on $17 million in new financing, according to a filing ferreted out by peHUB.

Data warehouser Infobright takes $10M

It’s no simple task to store terabytes of information. In addition to just keeping the data safe, companies often require analytics and upkeep for their stored info. Infobright, one of the companies that provides such services, has just raised another $10 million in funding.

Envivio raises $25M for video compression

Envivio, a South San Francisco, Calif. company that handles video compression for broadcasting companies, has taken a significant $25 million financing.

High-end electric car company Fisker gets a $65M boost

Tesla Motors may have significant competition in the high-end electric vehicle space soon, if Fisker Automotive continues on its current path. The Irvine, Calif. sports car company just announced another $65 million in funding, led by a Middle Eastern firm, the Qatar Investment Authority. Design work is well underway on Fisker’s first car, the Karma. Unlike Tesla’s model, the Roadster, Fisker is planning on making the Karma a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), which should make it more practical for regular or long-distance driving — assuming anyone is looking for practicality in luxury sports cars that cost double the average person’s yearly income. However, Fisker is following Tesla’s lead in outsourcing its manufacturing. The company announced a couple months back that Valmet, a Norwegian contractor, would build the Karma starting late next year. Once fully scaled up, Fisker expects to make, and hopefully sell, around 15,000 vehicles per year. Building a car is notoriously difficult, so it should be interesting to see whether Fisker can stick to its deadlines. Its fundings so far suggest that it’s making good progress. Along with its rounds from previous backers Palo Alto Investors and Kleiner Perkins (who also joined this investment), Fisker has taken over $75 million. But ultimately, the company will need double that amount or more to bring its plans to fruition.

Drilling startup ThermaSource acquires Tecton Geologic

ThermaSource, a Santa Rosa, Calif. company that does drilling and other construction services for the growing geothermal power industry, has acquired Tecton Geologic of Windsor, Calif. Less than a month ago, ThermaSource announced a $41.5 million funding. The company’s prospects appear to be rising, along with geothermal, which is gaining recognition as a good energy source. No acquisition price was disclosed for Tecton, which has 17 employees.

Micro-inverters on the rise with Enphase funding

To a layman, electricity seems like a fairly straightforward proposition: It flows like water through wires and into gadgets, end of story. But the real story is a bit more complex, which is why Enphase Energy, a company that makes a device called micro-inverters for solar panels, has raised a new $15 million financing. An inverter converts direct current (DC), which is what solar panels produce, into alternating current (AC), the type of electricity you’re usually using. Making a small, efficient inverter is particularly hard, and Enphase is one of the few companies that claims to be able to produce them. Adding to their obscurity, micro-inverters are designed to be reliable, and thoroughly hidden away. But attaching a micro-inverter to each solar panel in an installation can eke out some five to 25 percent more electricity, according to Enphase. Because there’s on each panel, they can be used to pinpoint problems, which standard inverters can’t. And as a final advantage, using micro-inverters is also cheaper than installing a standard centralized inverters, at least according to Paul Nahi, the company’s CEO. Enphase launched its product in June, and Nahi says it has since shipped out thousands, with a backlog for tens of thousands more by year’s end. He expects the company to sell hundreds of thousands of micro-inverters next year, with production ramping into the millions afterward, if the market for solar panels continues to do well. You can see Enphase’s visualization tools below, the same as what a home-owner who had micro-inverters installed would have access to. The company currently sells into the home and commercial markets, but ultimately plans on getting into the utility market as well. Rockport Capital led the $15 million financing, with Applied Materials joining as a strategic investor, and previous backer Third Point Ventures returning. Along with its $6.5 million second round, Enphase has taken $28 million to date; Nahi says it will likely seek another equity financing in the future if it continues to scale as planned.

Sportgenic raises $10M for sports ad network

Sportgenic, a company that claims to provide high-value market reach to sports advertisers and marketers, has raised $10 million in a second round of funding. The company targets specific groups of sports enthusiasts based on their predilections, from country club members to outdoorsmen and team athletes. It claims to have 350 publisher sites that it places ads on. Adams Street Partners led the funding round, with participation from previous investors Alsop Louie Partners, KPG Ventures and Greycroft Partners. Sportgenic is based in San Francisco, Calif.

EMKinetics raises $500K for incontinence treatment

EMKinetics, a Santa Cruz, Calif. company that uses electric pulses as a therapy to prevent urinary incontinence, has raised a $500,000 first round of funding, according to VentureWire. The company is using technology that it licensed from TheraNova. The electric pulses, variously called neuromodulation or neurostimulation, are also used by other companies for pain relief, hypertension and other treatments. WS Investment, TheraNova and angel investors provided the round. EMKinetics is looking for $5-10 million in a next round.

Eco-Products gobbles up $2M for compostable food items

With organic, locally-produced food items in high demand, it was only a matter of time before an enterprising startup or two took the next logical step: greening the supply chain. Eco-Products, a Boulder, Colo.-based maker of compostable food service supplies, has put the wraps on a $2 million first round of funding with Boulder-based Greenmont Capital Partners.

E-Commerce marketing co. ChannelAdvisor raises cash, trims staff

ChannelAdvisor, a company that lets online retailers manage product marketing across marketplaces such as eBay,, and a series of shopping comparison sites, has raised an additional $20 million, VentureWire reports. The company has also laid off 70 of the company’s 350 employees — including four vice presidents.

Nexterra raises C$3.8M for biomass gasification

Nexterra, a Vancouver, B.C.-based developer of low cost gasification systems, has wrapped up a C$3.8 million ($3.6 million) fourth round of funding, courtesy of Calgary, Alberta-based investor ARC Financial Corp. This raises ARC’s total investment in Nexterra to well over $19 million.

Xunlight raises another $11M for thin-film solar modules

Xunlight is on a roll: Only a few weeks after disclosing that it had raised $4.97 million from Ohio’s Third Frontier Projects, the Toledo-based developer of flexible, low cost thin-film silicon modules has secured another $11 million in third round funding from a group of institutional investors, led by Rabo Ventures. Returning investors included Trident Capital and Emerald Technology Ventures.

BuzzCity grows in the low-end mobile ad market with new funding

BuzzCity, a Singapore-based mobile advertising company, has picked up an additional $10 million for its combination approach of an ad network and social site, The company is aiming to expand in the United States, but chances are, you’re not in its target market. Its idea is to reach out to audiences everywhere that are on a similar economic level. In India and Indonesia, the countries with the most BuzzCity users, that means the growing middle class. For a developed country like the US, that means all the users without iPhones, BlackBerries and all-you-can eat data plans. Still, it’s positioning itself as a competitor to AdMob, the mobile ad network that has been going gangbusters worldwide, but especially in the US. Back in May when we first wrote about BuzzCity, AdMob had a daunting lead at home, with 1.5 billion impressions served per month in the US, while BuzzCity looked like it was ahead abroad. Today, AdMob is ahead with 4.6 billion impressions a month globally, while BuzzCity is reporting 1.7 billion, most from overseas.

Another massive funding for thin film solar, with $104M to AVA Solar, a challenger to First Solar

It may not be as much as the colossal $300 million financing that Nanosolar finally disclosed yesterday — the biggest ever for a solar company — but another thin-film manufacturer, AVA Solar, has broken into the nine-figure funding range today, with a challenge to industry giant First Solar’s dominance. AVA stands out a bit from its peers, for several reasons. For one, it’s based in Fort Collins, Colorado, well away from the sunny or technology-laden areas its competitors operate in. The outfit has thus gotten relatively little attention. The second oddity is the technology that AVA uses, which builds thin-film cells using cadmium telluride (CdTe), a kind of semiconductor. Most of the biggest bets in thin-film solar, a form of solar panel that is less efficient than traditional silicon-based cells but much cheaper to make, are based on copper-indium-gallium-selenide, or CIGS technology. Ascent Solar, Heliovolt, Miasole, Nanosolar, and a bunch of other companies all use CIGS. There’s an ongoing debate as to whether CIGS, CdTe or a third material, thin-film silicon, is best. However, CdTe, despite a reputation for being difficult to work with, holds a singular distinction: It’s what First Solar, the industry’s first and only success, First Solar, uses. It has been reported that First Solar has no direct competitors in CdTe technology. AVA obviously proves that claim wrong. A handful of others working with CdTe include Sunovia (OTCBB: SUNV), Calyxo, which is owned by the German giant Q-Cells, and PrimeStar Solar, which recently sold a majority stake to General Electric Energy. Primestar, like AVA, is based in Colorado.

Europe’s largest onshore wind farm is coming to Romania

Taking a page from T. Boone Pickens, who made waves when he announced that he was building the world’s largest wind farm in Texas, Continental Wind Partners and CEZ Group have concluded a deal to create Europe’s largest onshore farm, with a total capacity of 600 megawatts (onshore farms tend to be in hilly areas 3 km or more inland from the shoreline while offshore farms are 10 km or more from land).

Nanosolar outshines the competition with a $300M financing

Thin-film solar company Nanosolar has been sitting on a big secret for much of this year, it turns out: The company took a $300 million financing this March, and has remained mum ever since, only detailing it on the company’s blog this morning after VentureWire reported the funding.While Nanosolar hasn’t been entirely secretive about its technology, with chief executive Martin Rosencheisen showing off a rapid manufacturing technique early in summer, but apparently it didn’t want details leaking on this giant-sized investment until necessary. Word slipped out in April about $50 million of the total, but at the time, Nanosolar didn’t want to talk — and it’s now clear why.The race for funds, and ever-larger production targets, is definitely on for thin film. Secretive thin-film silicon company Optisolar has raised over $200 million this year, and Nanosolar’s thin-film CIGS competitor Miasole is trying to close on a similar amount. And while dozens of other startups are also on the hunt, large companies like Oerlikon Solar and Applied Materials are pouring money into ventures of their own.In many ways, it looks like an overheated sector. But on the other hand, Optisolar’s recent deal with PG&E to provide 550 megawatts of electricity suggests that the potential for thin film panels is larger than previously expected, even when considering one analyst firm’s prediction earlier this year that the sector will grow at 45 percent annually. That figure could now be much higher, especially for a few big winners — of which Nanosolar will likely be one. The company will be doing some utility-scale projects of its own, Rosencheisen tells us, with experienced partners. It also has a panel built specifically for use by utilities. And one of the backers of this funding, AES Corp., is also one of the world’s biggest power companies.At the moment, Nanosolar is still working toward a gigawatt of annual manufacturing capacity, but it will grow beyond that after completing its plants in Palo Alto, Calif. and Germany.The backers in the funding were mainly private equity firms and large companies: EDF Energies Nouvelles, AES Solar, Riverstone Holdings, Energy Capital Partners, the Carlyle Group, Lone Pine Capital, and the Skoll Foundation. Previous backers GLG Partners and Beck Energy also joined in. The company has taken almost half a billion dollars to date, including grants.

Daptiv scores more funding for project management software, continuing on growth trajectory

Still on its quest to become the of project portfolio management (PPM), Seattle startup Daptiv has raised $9 million more to develop and market its platform to large companies. PPM, for those of you who haven’t spent much time in a cubicle, refers to the sets of goals, objectives and steps required for completing large projects. In essence, it’s how corporations keep their internal operations ticking along. Given the size and complexity of most modern organizations, PPM is a sizable market, and Daptiv is trying to take it away from providers like Microsoft much as Salesforce took the customer relationship management market from Oracle. The company has grown its client base by about 100 companies to 800 total since I covered it late last year. However, CEO Jeff Pancottine says that an even more important metric is how many individual users are on the platform; that number has reached 100,000. Daptiv has also doubled in size, to over 100 employees. Pancottine also pointed to an addition to the company’s platform that allows ordinary users to build forms-based business applications, without any programming knowledge. The company has allowed some partners to test the software out, and is planning a full beta test later this year. The $9 million round is a second tranche of the company’s second funding, which brings the whole round to $21 million. The investors in this tranche were Bay Partners, Kennet Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. The company will likely start looking for another round next year. The company is eleven years old, and was recapitalized in 2005, which is when it got its first round of funding to start it off after considerable restructuring.

Miox raises $19M for water treatment

Miox, a water purification company based in Albuquerque, N.M., has picked up a $19 million third round of funding to help market its industrial water treatment technology. Instead of filtering water, Miox zaps it with a combination of electricity and chemicals, as we previously detailed. The company got its start with the military, moved on to the outdoor industry, and is now also serving businesses like hotels. The funding was led by new investor DCM, with participation from Sierra Ventures and Flywheel Ventures. Miox has now raised about $49 million.

Air compression energy storage finally finds an investor

An idea that has long been batted around by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists is finally getting its day in (or, more accurately, out of) the sun: pumping air into pressurized air cave systems. Then, the air is let out, and it spins turbines to generate electricity.

Algal biofuel firm Solazyme scores $45M

Solazyme, a South San Francisco, Calif. company that makes biofuels and other products from algae, has raised $45 million or more toward its latest funding, according to VentureWire.Early this year, Solazyme entered into a partnership with Chevron to develop its fuels. The company has also tested its biodiesel on the road in a standard diesel car, and has plans for product lines outside of the fuels, including nutrition.Also having taken funding to create fuel from algae this year recently are Aurora Biofuels, which got $20 million in June, and Sapphire Energy, which raised $50 million in late May.Taking part in Solazyme’s funding were the Roda Group, Jazem I Family Partners, Harris & Harris Group, Braemer Energy Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company had previously taken about $8 million in equity funding and $7 million in debt.

Content delivery platform Conviva raises $20M in new funding, but won’t talk about the technology

Conviva, a San Mateo, Calif. company that was formerly called Rinera Networks, has raised a substantial $20 million in new funding. But, as the headline notes, they don’t want to give the details on why they’re able to attract so much — short of making a few mildly disparaging comments about other companies in the space. To be specific, the company doesn’t mind talking about what it wants to do; it just won’t detail why it expects to be good at it. Their target market is live video delivery to computers so that, for instance, you can watch a live boxing match on your laptop at television quality. There’s a quick demo of the technology on Conviva’s webpage. CEO Carlos Ramon says that the price is also attractive, so the platform would be a good option for pre-recorded video as well. Video is the golden goose of content delivery, with everyone from Akamai to RawFlow wanting a piece of the market, so it’s not surprising that Conviva is also focusing its energies there. But while Ramon was careful not speak ill of any specific company, he did say that from his view, none of the existing platforms work. He referred to even newer companies like BitGravity as “legacy systems”, meaning that while some of today’s companies may be better than others at delivering video, he thinks of Conviva as being the first of a new generation. As to whether Conviva might be a traditional content delivery network or peer to peer sharing system — or a blend of both — Ramon would only suggest that nothing similar to Conviva’s C3 platform currently exists. C3, by the way, stands for concurrent coordination and control, and the founders are known for their work in distributing computing, which does suggest a combination of various delivery methods. The company promises to give more details in a few weeks. In the meantime, it at least disclosed its investors: UV Partners led the round, while previous backers New Enterprise Associates and Foundation Capital joined in on the $20 million funding. Conviva also took $9 million in April of last year.

Makani Power takes in $5M for high-altitude wind energy

Stealth startup Makani Power, an Alameda, Calif.-based wind energy company, has secured $5 million in second round funding from returning investor The 24-member firm, which is playing its plans very close to the vest, has only revealed that it is building huge wing-shaped kites to harness the energy from high-altitude wind.