Cleantech

Tim Bradshaw

A cheeky Apple advertisement appeared in several newspapers on Tuesday. Above a vast array of solar panels, it read: “There are some ideas we want every company to copy.”

The ad ran not only during Apple’s latest bout of patent litigation against Samsung, which continues in a San Jose courtroom, but on Earth Day, an annual reminder of our environmental responsibilities.

Apple used Earth Day to launch a new video ad, ‘Better’, narrated by chief executive Tim Cook himself, and a new portion of its website dedicated to its green achievements. These include powering its data centres with 100 per cent renewable energy, as well as 120 of its retail stores.

But perhaps more remarkable is that Mr Cook let Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, give an open and sometimes unscripted talk at Stanford University on Tuesday night. Read more >>

You shoot me down but I won’t fall. I am titanium.

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, must be humming that tune this morning after announcing a solution to the two car fires that dented the electric car maker’s reputation last year. Read more >>

Richard Waters

The Wall Street analysts waiting eagerly for details of Tesla Motors’ planned “Gigafactory” will have been disappointed by the cursory treatment the project got on Wednesday, as the company announced plans to raise $1.6bn.

After all, this is the massive battery-making plant that is meant to cement Tesla’s rise as the world’s first mass-market electric car maker. According to an expansive report by a Morgan Stanley analyst earlier in the week, it could also make it the dominant player in a $1,500bn market for selling energy storage devices to electric utilities. Read more >>

Chris Nuttall

It may be getting chilly for barbecuing sausages on BioLite’s new attachment to its twig-powered camp stove, but be warmed by the satisfaction of knowing you are helping its efforts to save lives in developing countries.

The US company is leveraging its success with outdoors types to help fund its longer-term project of providing safer stoves for the half of the world’s population that still cooks on open wood fires every day. Read more >>

Richard Waters

The Tesla Model S was Motor Trend car of the year last year and starts at a base price of $62,400. So how could you get one for an all-in cost of $500 a month?

Simple: start by valuing your own time at $100 an hour. That, at least, is according to the creative accounting that Tesla has just come up with for a new lease deal for the vehicle. Read more >>

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is a legend in the world of software, but the latest project of his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation deals with a very physical, real world problem, writes Vinjeru Mkandawire.

The “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” encourages the use of technology in a very different way from writing code for computer operating systems – Universities are asked to build toilets that operate without running water, electricity or a sewage system. Read more >>

Maija Palmer

Funding Circle, a UK-based online marketplace where individuals lend directly to small businesses raised $16m of Series B financing from joint investors Index Ventures and US-based Union Square Ventures. This brings the total amount raised by the company to $21m.  Launched in August 2010, the company now facilitates around £1m in loans each week. The company is planning to use the funds to double its staff over the next year.

Dragonplay, a Tel Aviv-based games developer raised $14m in a Series A funding from Accel Partners.  Dragonplay specializes in makes card, casino and board games for smartphones and social networks and is best known for Live Holdem Poker Pro, which has more than 2m monthly active players.  The company will use the investment to expand its portfolio of games. Read more >>

Chris Nuttall

Cheaper, brighter, leaner are the qualities driving light-emitting diode advances and no less than three companies have announced breakthroughs on Tuesday that further advance LEDs as our bright, lighting future.

Soraa, a Silicon Valley start-up, has emerged from stealth mode with a halogen-replacement product (pictured), North Carolina-based Cree says its new product delivers twice the lumens per dollar of previous-generation LEDs, while Britain’s Plessey says it has a new process that cuts costs by 80 per cent. Read more >>

Chris Nuttall

Despite the disaster of Solyndra, now is still the best time to invest in solar companies, the FT and Stanford Graduate School of Business’s Financing Innovation conference was told on Tuesday.

In a panel discussion, Steve Westly, a leading cleantech venture capitalist, said that, while the Californian solar cell maker’s bankruptcy had been a terrible thing, four or five global solar brands would emerge within five to 10 years. Read more >>

Richard Waters

The collapse in solar panel prices has not been bad news for everyone: installers are having a field day. But how do you create a large-scale business quickly in an industry that has always favoured local operators?

US solar installer Sungevity has one answer – it is about to venture into Europe, making it the first to make the move. Read more >>