Sapphire Energy Announces $144 Million Funding

Ann Marie Edwards

San Diego-based biofuel developer Sapphire Energy, Inc. has secured the final installment of $144 million in a Series C round of venture funding that includes Arrowpoint Partners, Monsanto, and other undisclosed investors.

This round of funding is being used to directly support Sapphire’s active and on-schedule commercial demonstration of an algae-based biofuels facility in Luna County, New Mexico. The Green Crude Farm, also known as the Integrated Algal BioRefinery (IABR), is the world’s first commercial demonstration scale algae-to-energy facility, integrating the entire value chain of algae-based fuel, from cultivation to production to extraction of ready-to-refine Green Crude. With this latest investment round, Sapphire Energy’s total funding from private and public sources substantially exceeds $300 million.

This announcement follows several recent partnerships and deals supporting Sapphire Energy’s continued expansion in Green Crude production. Last month, Sapphire announced it will integrate Earthrise Nutritionals’ spirulina strain into its growing inventory of cyanobacteria and algae strains to expand resources for algae-to-energy production. In May 2011, Sapphire announced a multi-year agreement with The Linde Group to co-develop a low-cost system to deliver CO2 to commercial-scale, open-pond, algae-to-fuel cultivation systems, now underway at the Green Crude Farm. In March 2011, Sapphire and Monsanto entered into a multi-year collaboration on algae-based research projects. Sapphire also was awarded a $50 million grant from the Department of Energy and a $54.4 million dollar loan guarantee from the Department of Agriculture, providing security for a privately funded loan.

“The ongoing support from the private investment community speaks to how strongly they believe in the development of Green Crude as an alternative fuel resource, especially Sapphire Energy’s ability to commercialize it,” says Cynthia J. Warner, president and chairman of Sapphire Energy. “It is increasingly important to find domestically produced crude oil alternatives to improve the country’s energy security, meet global energy demands, and provide jobs. Continued private investment is a critical step in achieving these goals.”

“It’s amazing to see that what started from an idea scribbled on the back of napkin is now a leading force in support of the goal to improve energy security for the country,” explains Jason Pyle, CEO of Sapphire Energy. “Today, Sapphire Energy has a widely admired technology platform, outstanding leadership team, and significant ongoing support from the investment community, making it well positioned to achieve the goal of bringing domestically produced Green Crude oil to commercial scale.”

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