The Money in Dirt

Cleantech firms are sometimes criticized for pie in the sky thinking. Harvest Power, though, looks like a pretty down to earth company. It makes dirt*. Mind you, this is high quality dirt*.

Compost. Black Gold? Credit: Harvest Power

Late last week, Harvest Power said it had raised $110 million in a third round of venture capital funding. That's a tidy sum for a messy business. Harvest is an industry that some call "organics management." According to the firm's website, it works at a community level to gather and re-use organic materials (food waste, lawn clippings, pieces of lumber). It produces mulches, organic fertilizer, and soil products using composting and anareobic digestion. These technologies are not exactly new. But it seems that the value is in its system approach and its facilities. Harvest ties into local communities where organic materials are separated from the waste stream. In addition to recyling the waste into soil-related products - which it sells to local farmers and gardeners - its digestors produce renewable energy from biogas. The biogas is used in combined heat and power plants, exported as pipeline-grade (i.e. purified methane) natural gas, or compressed gas to be used for transportation. High heat content materials like wood chips are also processed into fuel for use in industrial boilers. According to PrivCo, a firm that tracks the finances of privately-held companies, Harvest can boast significant revenues (this contrasts the firm with some cleantech plays that go public before making any money from sales). Founded in 2008, it made close to $50 million last year and is expected to rake in $75-$100 million in 2012. The financing will be used by the company to expand its reach. PrivCo reports Harvest is finishing two Canadian energy plants and has plans for waste to energy facilities in New Jersey and Florida. * [update] Harvest actually produces soil, as The Phytophactor points out in his comment.    

Author: Melody Bomgardner

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2 Comments

  1. OK, it’s soil, not dirt. Dirt is what you find under your finger nails, and in certain types of books and movies. Soil is another whole matter.

  2. True! I was really just using the word colloquially – as in “a big pile of dirt.” I suspect Harvest Power also prefers “soil.”