Ausra Obtains $60.6 Million in Equity Financing

Ausra

Ausra, a Palo Alto, California-based company that develops and deploys utility-scale solar thermal power technology, recently announced it secured $60.6 million in preferred equity financing. This financing was led by KERN Partners and included participation from Generation Investment Management, Starfish Ventures, and Ausra’s founding investors Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

"We are very pleased to have such prestigious investors join our team to assist Ausra in achieving its goals in the solar thermal energy market," said Bob Fishman, president, CEO and chairman of Ausra. "This round of financing will enable us to accelerate delivery of our technology to our customers."

"KERN Partners is excited to be investing in such a dynamic company that is poised to meet the growing demand for sustainable energy with its innovative and cost-competitive solar thermal technology," said Jim Nieuwenburg, general partner with KERN Partners.

Ausra said that it will use the funds from this financing for research and product development and commercial activities, including completing its 5 megawatt Kimberlina solar thermal power project near Bakersfield, California.  This will be the first power plant in North America to use Ausra’s core technology – the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) solar collector and steam generation system. Ausra is also developing a 177-megawatt CLFR power plant for Pacific Gas and Electric Company in central California.

Some background on Ausra is available in the following video, which is an interview by Alternative Energy HQ of Dr. David Mills, Ausra’s Chief Scientific Officer and Founder.

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New Resource Bank Completes $13.9 Million Equity Offiering

New Resource Bank

New Resource Bank, a commercial bank in San Francisco, announced on September 17 that it completed a second equity offering, totaling $13.9 million. The completed stock offering expands the bank’s equity capital base by more than 75%.

New Resource Bank is a FDIC insured institution that opened in September 2006 and offers banking services to individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations.  The bank provides financing for efficient and sustainable resources in its community, including offering a solar lending program as well as lending to entrepreneurial community businesses and green businesses.  New Resource Bank had $185 million in assets at the end of June 2008.

New investors in the announced equity offering include institutions such as the Climate Solutions Fund of Generation Investment Management, which was co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore and David Blood, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Other new investors include community leaders such as Bill Unger, Partner Emeritus of the Mayfield Fund and Joshua Mailman, a co-founder of Business for Social Responsibility and the Social Venture Network. They join a group of existing shareholders comprising business leaders, social entrepreneurs and institutions which also re-invested, including Bob Epstein, co-founder of Environmental Entrepreneurs, Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus and co-founder of the Level Playing Field Institute and Triodos Bank, a leading ethical and sustainable bank in Europe.  When New Resource Bank opened in 2006, 240 shareholders had provided $24.75 million in equity capital.

"We are pleased with the support from new and existing investors. The additional capital will enable us to reach a next tier of growth," said Bank initial founder and vice chairman Peter Liu.

"Our ability to add capital and new investors is a direct result of our differentiated focus on green businesses and projects; and on consumers who care more about the impact of their money," said Bank president and CEO Clay Jones. "This market focus is the key reason why we are able to become one of the fastest growing new banks."

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Expands Greentech Initiative with $500 Million Green Growth Fund and $700 Million KPCB XIII Fund

On May 1st, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, made two announcements on expansions to the firm’s greentech initiatives.

KPCB’s first announcement was the launch of its Green Growth Fund – a new $500 million investment fund designed to help accelerate mass market adoption of solutions to the global climate crisis.  The Green Growth Fund will be co-managed by KPCB Partners John Denniston and Ben Kortlang and extends the firm’s current investment efforts, which have previously focused primarily on startups, to support companies that have moved beyond their initial stage.  KPCB Partner John Doerr said:

We urgently need to advance our greentech industry at a speed and scale commensurate with the challenges we face.  We believe green technologies are both the key to solving our energy crisis and a tremendous business opportunity.

One of the organizations providing a significant commitment of funding to the Green Growth Fund is Generation Investment Management (Generation), whose chairman Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and Nobel Laureate, joined KPCB as Partner in 2007.  KPCB and Generation previously announced an alliance on November 12, 2007 to work together to find, fund and accelerate green solutions with the greatest potential to help solve the climate crisis.  Generation co-founder and Managing Partner David Blood said:

There is a significant gap between the capital needed and the capital currently deployed to create enduring solutions to the climate crisis. We’re eager to deepen our collaboration with KPCB by working closely with the Green Growth Fund to identify growth-stage investment opportunities.

KPCB’s second announcement was the formation of KPCB XIII, a $700 million fund that will include greentech in the scope of its investments (the other areas KPCB XIII will invest in are information technology and life sciences). KPCB XIII will primarily support early-stage entrepreneurs, while the Green Growth Fund will support companies in their growth phase. 

It is expected that KPCB partners working on greentech investments in both funds will work together and that this will provide benefits to KPCB portfolio companies in both funds.  According to Kortlang:

The venture and growth partners will work together as one team, in one office.  There’ll be many synergies: partners dealing with the more mature companies can contribute expertise with market dynamics, financing and regulation, while those involved with startups can offer cutting-edge technology insight and policy leadership. The common denominator in both funds will be exceptional company-building skills.

KPCB has began investing in the greentech sector and advocating policy innovations to address the climate crisis since 2002. The firm has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to more than 30 entrepreneurs in areas including power generation, fuel, transportation, energy storage, and energy efficiency.  KPCB’s current greentech portfolio includes:

The following video is a presentation by KPCB Partner John Doerr from March 2007.

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