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04/10/2009 12:00 PM     print story email story  

Weekly Investor Round Up News

After several relatively slow news weeks in the cleantech sector, numerous big deals went down this week.

After months of speculation, Germany solar cell company Q-Cells (QCE.DE) and Chinese wafer manufacturer LDK Solar have officially formed a joint venture to focus on the development of turnkey solar power plants in Europe and China. The companies have not been active in systems development until now, but they said a project pipeline is already in place and work has begun on a 40-megawatts (MW) system in Europe.

U.S. solar panel make SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWRA, SPWRB) is also stepping up its involvement in system development. The company announced an agreement to build a 17-MW solar power plant in Colorado for power company Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL). That system is the second largest in development in the U.S. and is expected to be completed in 2010.

U.S. solar company Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT) announced that one of its clients has reduced the size of a major order by more than 85%. Applied Materials makes thin-film solar production equipment. It had previously announced a $1.9 billion order to an unnamed company, but now that order has been reduced to $250 million. One analyst identified the client as Chinese solar firm Best Solar. Applied Materials said it is planning to cut $400 million in costs.

Wind energy developer Noble Environmental Power has received long-term capital for its 330-MW wind power projects in New York state. GE (NYSE: GE) invested more than $200 million in the portfolio of three wind projects. And a syndicate of financial institutions provided long-term debt totaling approximately $440 million. GE is also providing the 220 wind turbines for these projects.

GE also joined current investors in a $10 million funding round for Arizona-based Southwest Windpower. The company makes small residential wind turbines. The residential wind turbine market has been growing steadily in recent years and new federal tax incentives are expected to hasten that growth.

Chrysler announced that A123Systems will supply lithium-ion batteries for its first-generation of electric vehicles expected to go on sale in 2010. A123Systems is an American battery supplier that has applied for $1.84 billion in federal funds to build multiple manufacturing facilities, beginning with one in southeast Michigan.

Austin, Texas-based battery maker Valence Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: VLNC) announced that it too has submitted an application for federal funding to build a manufacturing plant. The company has asked for $608 million to go toward a facility in central Texas that would make lithium iron magnesium phosphate batteries for use in electric vehicles.

Premium hybrid vehicle maker Fisker Automotive, Inc. announced an additional $85 million in venture funding for the development and manufacturing of its plug-in hybrid vehicle called the Karma. New York-based Eco-Drive Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers have agreed to provide the funding.

OPX Biotechnologies Inc., a bioproducts company based in Boulder, Colorado announced $17.5 million in series B funding. The company develops processes for producing biofuels and green chemistry.

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