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Energy Roundup: Centrica Buys BE Stake, Cleantech VC Funding Tumbles, Chevron's PR Offensive, and More

Centrica buys 20 percent stake in nuclear company British Energy -- UK utility Centrica boosted its investment in nuclear power with its purchase of a 20 percent stake in EDF's nuclear unit British Energy. Centrica benefited greatly in this discounted deal by paying 6 percent less than the price paid by EDF earlier this year. In a side deal, Centrica sold 51 percent of its holding in Belgian utility SPE to France's EDF. [Source: The Guardian]

Venture capital investments in cleantech dive 63 percent in Q1-- Cleantech companies in the U.S. saw venture capital funding shrink to $277 million in the first quarter, a 63 percent drop compared to the same year-earlier period. Energy storage was the only bright spot and investment in companies developing that technology more than doubled to $114 million in the first quarter. [Source: VentureBeat]

Chevron taps ex-reporter to rebut "60 Minutes" report on environmental lawsuit -- Chevron took public relations to a new level with its hiring of a former CNN correspondent to produce a report giving its side of the story to a planned '60 minutes" news story about the oil company. Chevron, which faces a $27 billion lawsuit for allegedly polluting and failing to cleanup contamination in Ecuador's rain forest, posted its project on the Internet three weeks before the news magazine aired its report. [Source: AdAge, NYT]

Rentech to produce diesel fuel, electricity in planned waste-to- biofuel plant -- Los Angeles-based Rentech plans to generate 35 megawatts of electricity and produce 600 barrels of ready-to-use diesel fuel a day in a new Rialto, Calif. plant expected to open by 2012. The Rentech plant will convert waste into syngas using SilvaGas technology. Rentech uses its own technology as well as one developed with Honeywellto ultimately turn the syngas into fuels. [Source: Greentech Media]

China is world's leading builder of cleaner coal-fired plants -- China has become the largest user of coal and as a result the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. But it is also building cleaner, more efficient coal power plants -- at a rate of one a month --than any other country. [Source: NYT]

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