LONDON Clean technology venture investments during 2008 in North America, Europe, China and India totaled a record $8.4 billion, up 38 percent from $6.1 billion in 2007. Three of the top five funding rounds focused on thin-film solar ventures.
The 2008 total represents the seventh consecutive year of growth in clean technology venture investing, according to the Cleantech Group (San Francisco) which tracks the sector.
"As expected, clean technology venture investing slowed in 4Q08, but it is important not to miss the forest for the trees," said Nicholas Parker, Executive Chairman, Cleantech Group. "In 2008, there was a quantum leap in talent, resources and institutional appetite for clean technologies. Now, more than ever, clean technologies represent the biggest opportunities for job and wealth creation."
Preliminary results for the fourth quarter of 2008 suggest venture investment commitments worldwide of $1.7 billion across 99 disclosed investments, the smallest quarterly total in six quarters. 4Q08 was down 35 percent from 3Q08, but only 4 percent off what was achieved in the fourth quarter of 2007, despite a much more difficult economy.
Solar accounted for almost 40 percent ($3.3 billion) of total clean technology investment dollars in 2008, followed by biofuels at 11 percent ($904 million) and 9.5 percent, or $795 million in ventures focusing on transportation, which includes electric vehicles, fuel cells and advanced batteries.
The five largest VC rounds in 2008 included $300 million raised by NanoSolar, $219 million by Solyndra and $200 million by SoloPower, all U.S. companies and all for thin-film solar ventures, followed by $177 million raised by Finnish group WinWinD Oy for wind turbines and $140 million by U.S. group Solar Reserve for concentrated solar thermal.
European and Israeli companies raised $1.8 billion in 146 disclosed rounds, up 43 percent from 2007. Europe and Israel accounted for 21 percent of the global total.
The most significant country growth was seen in Germany ($383 million invested, an increase of 217 percent from 2007) and Israel ($247 million invested, an increase of 224 percent from 2007), both led by very large solar deals.
Germany overtook the U.K. as the country receiving the most venture capital in 2008, helped significantly by the region's largest deal of 2008, the $133.7 million investment in Berlin-based solar thin-film manufacturer Sulfurcell Solartechnik.
The U.K.'s decline in total investment ($337.8 million, down 11 percent from 2007) left it second in the country league table, with Israel moving into third place from sixth in 2007.
In 2008, U.S. companies raised $5.8 billion in 241 disclosed rounds, up 56 percent from 2007. U.S. companies accounted for 68 percent of the global total. Canadian companies raised $159 million in 14 disclosed rounds, down 58 percent from 2007.
Chinese cleantech companies raised $430 million in 18 disclosed rounds last year, up 22 percent from 2007.
China accounted for 5 percent of the global total, and the country saw steady gains in clean technology investment, with solar accounting for 60 percent of the total, reflecting the continuing migration of solar module manufacturing from Europe and the U.S. to China.
U.K., Qatar launch $375 million clean-tech fund
Intel invests in thin film solar manufacturer Sulfurcell
Analyst warns of 'solar market eclipse' in 2009
Bosch to expand solar cell and module production