ClearEdge Power raises whopping $73.5M for fuel cells


ClearEdge Power might not have amassed the funding of Bloom Energy, but it’s getting up there. On Tuesday fuel cell maker ClearEdge Power announced that it has raised a series E round of funding of $73.5 million, from a combo of new share sales and the conversion of previously issued notes. This round brings the company’s funding to about $100 million.

Investors in ClearEdge’s latest round include Artis Capital Management, Güssing Renewable Energy, Sempra Energy’s Southern California Gas Company and Kohlberg Ventures. Producing fuel cells is notoriously capital intensive and difficult to make profitable — Bloom Energy has raised at least $500 million over the years.

Fuel cells look a little bit like industrial refrigerators, and they use a chemical reaction to produce electricity and heat. They are filled with stacks that are lined with catalysts (a metal, sometimes platinum), and a fuel (commonly natural gas) is inserted in one side and runs over the stack. Electricity and heat flow out the other side.

As I pointed out in this article there’s a lot of fuel cell companies that have tried to make manufacturing fuel cells profitable for decades. One of the Achilles heels of fuel cell production is making a stack that lasts and can meet a warranty as high as 10 years.

ClearEdge Power says in its release that it has had year-over-year revenue growth of over 480 percent in the second quarter of 2011 and says it has grown the amount of jobs by 300 percent over a three-year period.


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