A record $421 million of venture capital investment in the energy storage sector helped push clean-tech venture capital (VC) investment in the US up 73% in the last quarter, according to Ernst & Young.
In total, $1.1 billion was raised by clean-tech companies from VCs, up three-quarters year-on-year, but up just 4% on the previous quarter.
So far this year, the sector has attracted $3.3 billion in VC funding in the US, compared with $4.9 billion for the whole of 2010.
“Confidence in clean-tech investing continues despite the challenging investment market. We saw significant commitments in energy storage, which reflects a growing corporate focus on proactively managing their energy mix,” said Jay Spencer, Ernst & Young Americas clean-tech director.
However, the third quarter total was nonetheless lower than that of two quarters last year, one quarter in 2009 and three quarters in 2008 – when the equivalent three months saw $1.9 billion invested.The largest investment last quarter was the $150 million raised by Bloom Energy, maker of stationary fuel cells.
The largest investment last quarter was the $150 million raised by Bloom Energy, maker of stationary fuel cells.
Clean-tech companies in the energy/electricity generation segment raised the second largest amount, at with $255.1 million, down 2% from the same period last year. Solar accounted for 77% of the total.
Energy efficiency was the third most popular field in terms of money raised, with $245.1 million, up 23% year on year. It also boasted the largest number of deals, at 21. The largest deal in this segment was the $60 million raised by Bridgelux, which produces light-emitting diodes.
Spencer argued that increases in renewable energy generating capacity and “corporate commitments” to clean technologies show that the sector “has reached its deployment phase”.
Ersnt & Young cited several new long-term commitments from large companies, such as developer NextEra Energy’s plans to spend as much as $5.8 billion over the next three years to build wind and solar projects, utility PG&E’s commitment of $1.3 billion to deploy smart grid technology over the next two decades, and shipping firm UPS’s deployment of 103 hybrid electric vehicles this year.
In geographical terms, California continues to lead clean-tech investment in the US in 2011, with $1.7 billion raised to date. Last quarter, it attracted 52% of clean-tech VC investment.
Massachusetts raised the second highest level of investments with $170.4 million, a 65% increase from the same period last year.
By. Mark Nicholls