Green-tech VC jumps nearly 40 percent in 2008

Solar captures lion's share of green-tech investments worldwide, bolstered by massive funding of thin-film solar companies, according to Cleantech Group report.

Green-tech venture capital funding soared last year, aided by megadeals in thin-film solar companies, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday by the Cleantech Group.

During 2008, green-tech venture investments jumped to $8.4 billion, a 38 percent increase, according to the report.

Solar investments helped drive the growth, capturing 40 percent of green-tech investments. Thin-film solar deals did particularly well, capturing the three largest investments in green technology last year.

NanoSolar raised $300 million last year, followed by Solyndra with venture investments of $219 million and SoloPower with $200 million .

Cleantech Group's senior research director, Brian Fan, said in a statement:

2008 saw solar take a 40 percent share of clean-technology venture investment dollars, led by mega investment rounds in thin-film solar, concentrated solar thermal, and solar-service provider companies.

Investors also continued to migrate from first-generation ethanol and biodiesel technologies to next-generation biofuels technologies, led by algae and synthetic biology companies. Other sectors with healthy investor interest included smart-grid companies, small-scale wind turbines, plastics recycling, green buildings, and agriculture technologies.

Following solar-energy firms in attracting VC dollars were companies specializing in biofuels such as ethanol, biodiesel, synthetic biology, and algae. The sector captured 11 percent of green-tech venture investments last year, while transportation companies, such as makers of electric vehicles, advanced batteries, and fuel cells, accounted for 9.5 percent.

United States-based companies raised the most green-tech venture funding, landing $5.8 billion among 241 disclosed investments. This group also posted the largest gain last year, marking a 58 percent funding increase over the previous period.

European and Israeli companies followed, raising $1.8 billion amid 146 disclosed rounds, marking a 47 percent increase.

Chinese companies raised a total of $430 million in green-tech investments in 18 rounds, marking a 22 percent increase over the previous year. And Indian companies landed $277 million in 14 disclosed deals, a 20 percent increase.

And while green-tech venture investments were up for the year, preliminary fourth-quarter results marked a downturn from last year and the previous quarter, according to the report.

The fourth quarter accounted for $1.7 billion worldwide, down 4 percent from last year during the same period and a 35 percent decline sequentially.


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