U.S. venture capital investment in cleantech reaches $1.14 billion

Source: PRNewswire

May 24, 2011

U.S. venture capital (VC) investment in cleantech companies increased by 54% to $1.14 billion in Q1 2011 from $743.3 million in Q1 2010, despite a 13% decrease in deals year on year from 79 to 69, according to an Ernst and Young LLP analysis based on data from Dow Jones VentureSource. The top 10 deals in Q1 2011 totaled $683.1 million, 60% of the total raised for the quarter and two deals accounted for 18% of the total dollars raised.

The energy/electricity generation segment, led by strong solar investments, raised $450.3 million through 16 deals in Q1 2011. The solar sub-segment accounted for 32% of the total dollars raised for the quarter with $362.7 million, a 162% gain from Q1 2010. Specifically, MiaSole, a Northern California manufacturer of copper indium gallium selenide thin-film photovoltaic solar panels, was the largest deal of the quarter. The company raised $106 million in a later-stage round of financing, 24% of total dollars in Q1 2011. Alta Devices, a Northern California company that focuses on improving the production economics of high efficiency solar PV applications, had the fourth largest deal of the quarter with $72 million third round financing.

Large investments also bolstered the energy storage segment to be the second largest in terms of dollars in Q1 2011. The segment is up 671% year on year after raising $262.4 million through 10 deals. Battery companies drew in $121 million of this investment compared to $8 million in Q1 2010, a 1405% increase, while fuel cell companies attracted $106 million in Q1 2011, a 308% increase year on year. Two deals accounted for 64% of the dollars raised in the energy storage segment overall, including Bloom Energy, a California provider of fuel cell-based power generators, which raised $100 million.

In Q1 2011, the industry focused products and services segment ranked third with respect to total amount raised. It attracted $161.86 million, a 27% decrease from the $221 million raised in Q1 10. The largest deal in this segment was completed by Myriant Technologies, a Massachusetts developer of biocatalyst technologies for conversion of renewable feedstocks that raised $60 million.

The alternative fuels segment, led by biofuel companies, raised $160 million, 14% of the total dollars raised in Q1 2011. Finally, the energy efficiency sector raised $95 million in Q1 2011, down 49% from the $187 million raised in Q1 2010.

Companies generating revenue raised $596.4 million, 52% of the total dollars invested in Q1 2011, up from just 34% in the same period last year. Later stage rounds accounted for 28 deals and $721.6 million, representing 67% of the total quarterly investment compared to 57% in Q1 2010. However, first round investment also increased by 77% to $146.1 million compared to $82.7 million in Q1 2010.

In Q1 2011, California accounted for 56% of the total dollars funded with $637.2 million, up 41% year on year. Northern California attracted 79% of dollars raised throughout California. This quarter was also strong for investment in the Southeast and the New England regions. Companies in the Southeast garnered $150.2 million, a 6159% from Q1 2010, and New England area companies attracted $174.23 million, a 193% increase compared to Q1 2010.