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Here’s the latest action we’re following today on the GreenBeat:

1366 raises $28.4 million for cheaper wafers — Silicon wafer startup 1366 has raised $28.4 million in capital from investors that include GE Energy Financial Services, VantagePoint Venture Partners and Hanwha Chemical. It is an $8 million addition to $20 million raised last year.  The company can directly convert molten silicon to wafers, which reduces costs, waste and time compared to slicing wafers off an ingot of silicon. Wafers are used to build solar panels.

Volvo debuts three-in-one hybrid car — The automaker will be showing off a concept car (pictured) that combines electric, hybrid and diesel options at an auto show in Geneva, Autopia writes. The Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid with three modes, “pure,” “hybrid” and “power.” In “pure” mode, an electric motor drives the rear wheels for about a 30-mile range. On hybrid, the car gets an 125 miles per gallon equivalent and a 745-mile range. And in “power” mode, the car can go from zero to 62 miles per hour in 6.9 seconds with diesel and electric motors powering the car.

Soliant suspends solar operations — The firm raised $29 million in venture funding for its concentrating solar modules, but has now laid off most of its full-time staff and suspended operations while it looks for an acquirer, Greentech Media reports, noting the firm has received backing from Nth Power, GE Energy Financial Services and Rockport Capital. The company has reportedly failed to raise any additional funding. Soliant had focused on concentrating  solar systems, which use mirrors or lenses to magnify and strengthen the sun’s power.

Warren Buffet’s company becomes top wind utility — The billionaire investor and CEO of holding company Berkshire Hathaway has been investing in wind power via his MidAmerican utility. It has now become the top utility in the U.S. for wind, Treehugger reports. The company has put $5.4 billion towards wind projects and had 2,909 megawatts of wind generation in operation by the end of 2011, according to Buffet’s annual letter to shareholders

Honeywell to develop China smart grid project — The company has been selected to develop China’s first smart grid pilot project. It will assess the systems and plan for a smart grid implementation, and also study demand management and building energy management. The news comes as more and more major companies and even venture capital firms look for ways to gain a toehold in the nation’s booming energy market and growing cleantech segements.

Genomatica raises $45 million — The cash will go towards demonstration-scale production and early commercialization plans for a green version of butanediol (BDO), a chemical used in spandex, automotive plastics and running shoes. In this round, the company’s fourth, Genomatica signed on new investors VantagePoint Venture Partners, which was the largest investor in the round, Bright Capital, and Waste Management (which also holds stakes in biofuels startup Enerkem and has a partnership with Genomatica to research chemicals that can be created from synthetic gas, or “syngas”, captured at landfills). Existing investors joined the new round: Alloy Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Mohr Davidow Ventures and TPG Biotech.


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