Cleantech Companies Won 5 of 6 Largest Venture Capital Rounds in 2010

Five of six of the largest Venture Capital fundraising rounds in 2010 went to cleantech companies, based on data from Thomson Reuters:

– Better Place: $350 million for electric car charging infrastructure

– Solyndra: $175 in convertible debt for unique solar PV panels

– BrightSource Energy: $150 million for solar thermal projects

– Abound Solar: $110 million for solar thin-film

– Trilliant: $105 million for smart grid networking

Better Place even beat Twitter’s recently announced $200 million investment. 

Worldwide cleantech investments peaked at $11.8 billion in 2008, then dropped off significantly to $6.8 billion in 2009, but thanks to strong growth during the last quarters of in 2010, the year ended with $8.8 billion in total investment (Bloomberg New Energy Finance).

And smaller, earlier stage companies are finding investors again. The average investment size is hovering around $12 million, according to Kachan & Co., a cleantech analysis and consulting firm. That’s still a high figure, beating average round sizes for US biotech ($8.7M), medical devices ($7M) and software ($5M) companies, based on U.S. National Venture Capital Association data.  

IPOs and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are also up in recent months.

The drivers of cleantech remain in tact and will be felt more acutely this year: resource scarcity around oil, rare earth elements, water and commodities generally; the need for energy independence, greater efficiency, and climate change.

“We believe continued growth in Asia and the ongoing push for resource efficiency will make 2011 a record year for cleantech innovation financing,” said Sheeraz Haji, CEO of Cleantech Group.

Dozens of venture capital funds have been announced in the past month, including the NER300 Fund in Europe ($12.4 billion,  China’s Hony Capital $1.5 billion fund, and another $500 million from the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS).

As in 2010, Efficiency, which includes smart grid, will be the dominant investment sector this year, as investors seek less capital intensive deals. Rising commodity prices will also benefit companies that recover and recycle materials such as steel and precious metals.  The other continuing theme is China, the largest, fastest market for cleantech. Companies that seek investments need to have traction in China.

Although efficiency was the most popular sector last year with 151 deals, solar received the highest dollar amounts (24%) on 117 deals, followed by Transportation (17%), and Energy Efficiency (14%).

01/31/2011 Sustainable

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *