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Organic waste recycling draws $110M from Gore, Kleiner & First Solar Chief

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Harvest Power is raising $110 million from investors including Al Gore’s fund, venture firm Kleiner Perkins and a fund led by First Solar interim CEO Michael Ahearn to build out its facilities that turn organic waste into fertilizer and energy. Harvest Power builds and operates plants that use composting and anaerobic digestion technology to breakdown food scraps and yard clippings, and the technology not only produces fertilizers, but also biogas that can be used to produce electricity or be processed into compressed natural gas for transportation fuel.

The round was led by True North Venture Partners, the $300 million fund started by Ahearn and Ahearn will join the Board of Directors of Harvest Power. True North Venture Partners officially launched Summer of 2011 and this is one of the first investments I’ve heard coming from them. Oil refinery firm American Refining and DAG Ventures also participated in the round.

Trash giant Waste Management was a previous investor, but isn’t named in this round on the release. Back in January 2010 Harvest Power also announced a deal with Waste Management to access organic waste (feedstock for its recycling processes) from Waste Management’s operations across the U.S. and Canada, but I’m also not sure on the status of that deal. I’ll update this when I know more.

Founded in 2008, Harvest Power says it’s sold “millions of bags” of organic soils and mulches in 2011 and is in the process of building “two of the largest foodwaste to energy facilities in North America.” The company plans to complete construction of those plants this year, and has been operating seven other smaller sites.

Harvest Power previously raised $51 million about a year ago, putting its total funding raised to over $160 million. The company used part of that money to add recycling technologies, such as a high-temperature process to create synthesis gas. Syngas can be used to produce electricity, transportation fuels and other chemical products.

While Harvest Power Harvest is developing its own technology, it also makes use of others’ know-how. The company previously teamed up with Germany’s GICON Bioenergie to engineer and build processing plants using GICON’s anaerobic digestion technology.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the company — which makes money by selling fertilizer and power, as well as charging waste pick-up fees — generated less than $50 million in revenue in 2011, and expects to generate between $75 million and $100 million this year.

3 Responses to “Organic waste recycling draws $110M from Gore, Kleiner & First Solar Chief”

  1. heresy101

    More detail about what type of anaerobic digestion (AD) process would be used (dry or wet). Syngas is mentioned, but that is a totally different process from AD and has “rabid” environmental opponents.

    Digestion is something really needs to become real across the country. The “recycling” ayatollahs in SF truck green waste 50-100 miles so it can be composted! There is enough land for AD in SF to generate energy for the City and bag or truck the organic waste to where it can be used.

    Finally, AD has been done in many places from Texas to Wisconsin to the east coast. There have been many offers of biogas from AG over the last 5 years. Unfortunately, the prices have been over $9/mmBTU and $2/mmBTU natural gas is a difficult competitor.