Controversial so-called ‘clean coal’ technology just got a triple-digit investment — GreatPoint Energy, a company that converts dirty coal into cleaner-burning natural gas, has raised $100 million in a Series C funding, a company spokesperson told us. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company said it will officially announce the news on Monday and PeHub and VentureWire are reporting more details on the deal.
The word was out in August that GreatPoint was looking to close a substantial round of funding. Investors in this latest round include Dow Chemical (DOW), Citi Sustainable Investments, AES Corp. (AES), and Suncor Energy (SU), as well as Advanced Technology Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. This latest funding brings GreatPoint’s total funding to $137 million.
Dirty-burning coal is a massive problem. About half of U.S. electrical generation comes from cheap-but-dirty coal power, according to the Energy Information Administration. And more coal plants are in the works, even while some in the sector are under investigation. Technology to make coal cleaner is getting serious attention from investors; Secure Energy, a St. Louis-based coal gasification company, raised $5.5 million of an $8 million Series A round in August.
The process of coal gasification — breaking it down into cleaner natural gas and CO2 — is one of the most promising areas of clean coal. The natural gas can be sold and the CO2 can be captured and stored. GreatPoint told CNET in August that it can produce its natural gas product “bluegas” at about $4 per million BTUs (British thermal units), lower than the current market price of nearly $7 per million BTUs. At the same time coal gasification remains a relatively expensive process and is rather unproven on a larger scale.