Amidst the venture funding hangover that appears to be descending onto the cleantech industry, the deals that are being made are especially notable. On Tuesday Ice Energy, a company that has developed an ice-based energy storage and air conditioning system for buildings, will announce that it has raised $33 million in the first portion of a Series B round of funding from private equity firm Energy Capital Partners. Energy Capital Partners has also committed up to $150 million in equity project financing to help Ice Energy install its systems and sell the power from energy-efficiency projects to utilities.
Ice Energy’s “Ice Bear” air conditioner units are cost effective and energy efficient because they move the cost of cooling to off-peak hours when it’s less expensive. The units create ice during off-peak hours, like during the middle of the night, and then during peak hours, like the middle of the day, the systems cool buildings by circulating chilled refrigerant to the coil of a standard air conditioning system. Ice Energy CEO Frank Ramirez goes as far as calling it the only really efficient means of storing energy out there.
Ice Energy partners with large contractors that install the units mainly in commercial buildings and works with utilities on energy efficiency projects. Ramirez says that Ice Energy is in discussions with 20 major utilities and has a substantial list of pilot projects.
Like executives at most startups looking for funding, Ramirez felt the pinch of the credit crunch during this fund raising process, and he tells us: “But for the fact that we were working with Energy Capital Partners, it would have been highly unlikely that it [the funding] would have been successful.” Previously Ice Energy raised a $10 million seed round, and a $25 million Series A. This latest round brings the company to $68 million.