Even in a tough 2011, with widely publicized headwinds, global venture capital and corporate investments in cleantech companies grew 13% to $8.99 billion, according to the Cleantech Group.
Mergers & acquisitions reached record highs in 2011 with 391 deals and a dollar volume of $41.2 billion, growing 153% from 2010.
"Based on our historical data, we believe 2012 will be an all-time record year for global cleantech investments," says Sheeraz Haji, Cleantech Group CEO.
As in other recent tough years, although the total dollars invested in cleantech grew, the number of deals declined. In 2011, the number of deals was down 7% from 2010, as investors put more money in later stage companies to bolster portfolio companies or to invest in less risky ones that are beyond start-up stage.
Of the 713 deals, 61% (438) were Series B or later rounds, accounting for 85% ($7.64 billion) of all money invested during the year. Some companies, such as Brightsource and Better Place (oops - and Solyndra!) also raised some of the biggest rounds in 2010.
North America, where California was the clear leader, accounted for 76% of the total amount invested (up 30% to $6.81 billion); Europe & Israel accounted for 14% ($1.30 billion) and Asia Pacific accounted for 10%.
In the public markets, 28 of the 51 IPOs were in China, led by large renewable energy entrants Sinovel Wind Group and Huaneng Renewable Energy.
Solar, Energy Efficiency Leads Venture Capital Deals
Solar was the leading sector by amount invested ($1.81 billion), followed by energy efficiency ($1.46 billion) and transportation ($1.12 billion).
Energy efficiency saw the most deals with 150 funding rounds, ahead of solar (111 deals) and transportation (61 deals).
The largest transactions in each of the top four sectors:
SOLAR - $1.81 billion in 111 deals
- BrightSource Energy (California) $201 million for utility-scale concentrating solar
- Stion (California) $130 million for CIGS thin-film solar technology
- Miasolé (California) $106 million for CIGS thin-film solar technology
ENERGY EFFICIENCY - $1.46 billion in 150 deals
- OSIsoft: $135 million for real-time data infrastructure solutions
- Prysm (California) $100 million for low-power, large-format display devices
- Soraa (California) $88.6 million for gallium nitride- based semiconductors for lighting
TRANSPORTATION - $1.12 billion in 61 deals
- Fisker Automotive (California) $315 in three rounds to make luxury electric vehicles
- Better Place (Israel) $200 million to build out electric vehicle charging infrastructure
- DriveCam (California) $85 million for transportation efficiency software
BIOFUELS & BIOMATERIALS - $1.04 billion in 52 deals
- Fulcrum Bioenergy (California) $175 million in two rounds for waste-to-ethanol projects
- Sundrop Fuels (Colorado) $175 million for synthetic fuel production that uses concentrated solar energy to gasify biomass
- Enerkem (Quebéc) $74.6 million in two rounds for biofuels and chemicals from biomass and municipal solid waste