Clean-tech fundings: Intel in China, ice-powered air conditioners

Intel makes its first clean-tech investment in China; Ice Energy gets funding to market to utilities; Goldman Sachs partners for carbon trading; GE ups stake in A123 Systems.

Clarification at 10:50 a.m. PDT: The extent of Intel Capital's clean-tech investments in China has been modified.

Even with turmoil in the financial markets, venture capital is still flowing to energy-tech ventures.

Here are the latest such investments: • Intel Capital has made its first clean-tech investment in China, the company said Tuesday.

The venture-capital arm of the chip giant put $20 million into Trony Solar Holdings, a Chinese solar thin-film cell developer. It also invested an undisclosed sum in NP Holdings, which makes large-scale energy storage systems for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Intel Capital set up a $500 million fund for tech deals in China earlier this year, according to Reuters.

"We think innovation is the way to help companies out of this financial crisis," Cadol Cheung, head of Intel Capital in Asia Pacific told reporters Tuesday. "We have no plan of slowing down our investment pace."

• Ice Energy said Tuesday it has raised $33 million in a second round of funding. The round, led by Energy Capital Partners, also provides up to $150 million in project development financing.

Ice Energy makes rooftop air conditioners that use ice to help lower the cost of operating them.

Ice Energy's rooftop ice-cooled air conditioner. Ice Energy

During off-peak hours, such as the middle of the night, the machines freeze water. During the day, the ice cools the refrigerant to run the air conditioner, cutting down on the electricity it would otherwise need.

The ice storage can shift the demand to off-peak times by as much as 40 percent, according to the company. For that reason, the company is marketing its products to utilities looking for ways to reduce peak demand to avoid construction of new power plants.

•  Blue Source said Monday that Goldman Sachs will take an equity stake in the company and finance carbon offset projects.

Blue Source identifies and runs projects that reduce greenhouse gases, such as methane capture at landfills, and carbon capture and storage at oil wells.

Goldman Sachs will market and trade the offsets from Blue Source projects in carbon emissions trading markets, according to the companies.

•  General Electric said last week it is investing $30 million in lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems, part of a planned $102 million series E round .

GE is now the largest investor in the company with a 9 percent stake after having put in $55 million. The two companies are working on various projects, including integrating A123 Systems' batteries in the Think all-electric town car and a hybrid bus platform.

Both GE and A123 Systems are pursuing the market for power grid storage as well.

 

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