Google.org makes its geothermal play with investments in Altarock, Potter Drilling

[Update: Lost in the press blitz about the Google.org investment was the fact that Altarock took $26.25 million in total. Advanced Technology Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins and Vulcan Capital all participated.] Here’s a fact: If you go outside, wherever you are, and start drilling a hole, once you get deep enough it will become very, very hot. Using that heat for electricity is the cornerstone of geothermal power, and it’s great if you can reach the hot spots — just ask Iceland. But much of that heat is difficult to reach or use, a detail that has inspired the latest investment by Google.org.

Marrone Organic Innovations raises $10M for green pesticides

Marrone Organic Innovations, a Davis, Calif.-based based maker of natural pesticides and weed killers, has wrapped up a $10 million second round of funding and expects a second closing of $1 million later this month. The round was led by Stuart Mill Venture Partners and Contrarian Group; returning investors included One Earth Capital, Saffron Hill Ventures, Clean Pacific Ventures, Wavepoint Ventures and local angel investors.

For the future of biodiesel, Chevron and Shell might be on the right track

Want to fill up your Volkswagen or Hummer on renewables, as Arnold Schwarzenegger does? Biodiesel, a vegetable-oil based variant on petroleum diesel, is your fuel. As we pointed out last week, the fuel doesn’t get as much attention as high-tech biofuels like cellulosic ethanol and “green” gasoline. However, substances called furanics may help bring biodiesel back into the spotlight.

T. Boone helps inject $160M into natural gas-fueled taxis

Ever since multi-billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens unveiled his grand energy plan for the United States last month, everyone with an ounce of skepticism has been wondering why he’s so bullish on using natural gas for transportation. True to form for the canny Texan, it soon emerged that he owns a refueling station business called Clean Energy Fuels.

Ausra rakes in $24.5M for solar thermal power

A little over a month after opening its first 130,000-square-foot factory in Las Vegas, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Ausra, a developer of utility-level solar thermal power, has raised $24.5 million in a third roundof  funding from returning investors Khosla Ventures and KPCB. New investor KERN Partners, based in Alberta, Canada, also joined the round.

ReCellular dials up $15M for cell phone recycling

Don’t throw away that used mobile phone just yet — chances are ReCellular, a Dexter, Mich.-based phone recycling firm, can help find it a new home. One of the world’s leading cell phone recyclers, it has just raised $15 million in first round funding from Investor Growth Capital.

As LEDs become hot, Intematix takes an investment, expands objectives

While most agree that LEDs will someday replace compact fluorescents as the energy-efficient lights of choice for homes and businesses, that day often seems far off. LEDs, which emit light from a semiconductor chip instead of interaction with a gas, have always been bulky and expensive, and the illumination they give off isn’t exactly mood lighting. But recently, it has begun to look like lighting companies may overcome those problems more quickly than anticipated.

Plastic Logic sees flexible, low-power displays coming with $50M funding

Thin, flexible display tech is one of those advances that has been just over the horizon since the Internet bubble started inflating. Remember the promises of e-paper — a crossbreed with the best qualities of both paper and computer screens, used as portable reading material? So far the best we’ve gotten is the Amazon Kindle, but Plastic Logic is hoping to change that, with a plan for commercialization next year.

H2scan raises $4M for hydrogen monitoring technology

H2scan, a Valencia, Calif.-based maker of hydrogen sensing devices, has received $4 million in fourth round funding from Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, H5 Capital, Tri-Strip Associates, TGB Partners and Ravinia Venture Fund. Members of the Tech Coast and Pasadena Angels also joined the round; all but TGB Partners are returning investors.

With $15M new funding, Cyrium will fight Boeing and Emcore for the concentrating solar market

When we talk about concentrating photovoltaics (CPV), it’s the lenses, mirrors and tracking systems that focus sunlight onto solar cells that get all the attention. But why not the cells themselves? A little-discussed handicap in CPV is the near-monopoly two public companies, Boeing’s (BA) Spectrolab and Emcore (EMKR), enjoy on high-efficiency cells.