Clean energy VC funding roundup: Nuclear fusion, utility-solar foundations, electric trucks, smart metering


Investors continue to invest and clean energy entrepreneurs continue to innovate — despite global setbacks. Here are four companies that won more than $45 million in funding in recent days — ranging across the cleantech spectrum. Plus $1.9 billion for Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

New approach to solar foundations

Jack West, the cofounder of solar mounting system startup, Zep, has founded a new firm developing utility-scale solar tracker foundations. His new firm, Ojjo, has received $15 million in venture funding from Cthulhu and previous Zep investors for “a new way to approach solar foundation design,” with a truss system claimed to use half the tariff-rich steel of a conventional installation. Co-founded by West and Daniel Flanigan, Ojjo is helmed by CEO Helena Kimball.

Electric truck chassis for commercial EV race

Motiv Power Systems, a builder of chassis and software for medium-duty trucks and buses, raised $15 million from current investor GMAG. Motiv has raised a total of $95 million from investors including GMAG and RV builder Winnebago. According to Reuters, Motiv uses batteries from BMW for its chassis and electrifies the E-450, a medium-duty truck from Ford.

Nuclear fusion

Chevron Technology Ventures made a Series A investment in nuclear fusion startup Zap Energy. The value of the investment was not disclosed. Zap has also received DOE funding. Oil-and-gas firm Equinor has invested in nuclear fusion startup Commonwealth Fusion Systems.

Smart electric metering in emerging markets

SparkMeter, a provider of grid management services, equipment, and software closed a $12 million Series A funding round led by Clean Energy Ventures and Breakthrough Energy Ventures, along with Goodwell Investments, Alitheia Capital, Total Energy Ventures, Lateral Capital, Schmidt Family Foundation, Incite Capital, Powerhouse Fund, Shell Foundation, Factor[e] and The E8 Fund.

The firm aims to improve “access to reliable electricity in underserved communities across Africa, Asia and the Americas.” According to the company, “In emerging markets, microgrid and distribution utilities often struggle with electricity and revenue loss due to non-payment, load management challenges, and sub-optimal customer service.” SparkMeter’s two-way meter communication and grid software is designed for hard-to-reach and low-consumption end-users and improves load management, customer services, and billing. The startup has installed more than 100,000 meters.

Mars or bust

SpaceX, the space exploration firm led by CEO/CTO Elon Musk, raised $1.9 billion in equity funding, according to an SEC filing. SpaceX has already raised $3.5 billion from investors including Founders Fund, Google, Fidelity, Baillie Gifford and Valor Equity Partners.

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