With solar power leading the way, venture capital investment in cleantech grew by 8 percent in 2010 to $3.98 billion, according to an Ernst & Young analysis.The firm said investments in solar comprised $1.58 billion of total cleantech VC, an increase of 77 percent over 2009.
Even in the fourth quarter, when total VC investment in cleantech was flat compared to the 2009 fourth quarter, in 2010 solar power investments reached $279 million, an increase of 129 percent compared to the year-earlier period. A big chunk of the funding – $111 million – went to Abound Solar, a Colorado-based photovoltaic panel provider, while SoloPower, which recently announced it would open a big plant in Oregon, rustled up nearly $52 million.
Another big winner in 2010 was industry products and services, which saw a 79 percent annual gain to $1.24 billion. The Ernst & Young report noted that “investments in electric vehicles (EV) and charging stations generated 56 percent ($695.17 million) of investment in this category in 2010 due to large deals completed by three EV manufacturers: Better Place, Fisker Automotive and Coda Automotive.”
These big gains in were partially offset by a decline in the energy efficiency sector. There, VC investments fell by 9 percent in 2010 to $669 million – and by a whopping 41 percent in the 2010 fourth quarter vs. the 2009 fourth quarter.