Google Ventures-backed Cool Planet Closes $100M Series D Round

3/31/14Follow @MichaelXBD

Cool Planet Energy Systems, a Colorado-based developer of “green fuels,” announced Monday it has closed a $100 million Series D round that shows the alternative fuels industry might still have life left in it.

Cool Planet, which is based in Greenwood Village, uses biomass such as corn cobs and dead or dying trees to create green fuels it says are chemically identical to conventional fossil fuels. The fuel can then be blended with conventional fuels and lower their carbon dioxide emissions.

The company also creates a substance known as biochar that can be used as fertilizer. Cool Planet claims the production of the fuel and biochar can be carbon negative, with the biochar helping to recapture carbon.

The company’s business model relies on building small-scale facilities close to where it can obtain biomass fuels. Its first facility is under construction in Louisiana.

Google Ventures is among Cool Planet’s investors, and the company is backed by a handful of venture firms and strategic investors active in the energy industry, which saw a falloff in fundraising in the past few years. According to analysts, investment in biofuels has dropped dramatically since peaking in 2007.

North Bridge Venture Partners and Concord Energy were the lead investors for the round. Funding also came from existing investors BP, Energy Technology Ventures, which is a joint venture of General Electric, ConocoPhillips, and NRG Energy, and the Constellation division of Exelon.

Cool Planet said all of its current strategic and venture investors added to their investment in this round, and that more than 50 percent of equity funds from new investors came from outside the U.S. The private placement was jointly led by UBS and Goldman Sachs.

Michael Davidson is the editor of Xconomy Boulder/Denver. He covers startups, venture capital, clean tech, energy, aerospace, telecoms, and whatever else happens above 5,280 feet. Contact him at mdavidson@xconomy.com. Follow @MichaelXBD

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