A new analysis by Ernst & Young concludes that US venture capital firms invested $4.9 billion in cleantech companies in 2011. That is 4.5% less than 2010. The good news is that the amount of capital invested in 2010 was up 29% from 2009.
Energy and electricity generation attracted $1.5 billion of venture capital investments, about 5% less than in 2010, with solar power accounting for 91% of the capital invested in the generation sector.
The energy storage sector saw a whopping 253% increase in venture capital investments, with $932.6 million invested in 28 deals. Much of this capital was invested in new battery technologies.
Although energy efficiency companies attracted $646.9 million of new venture capital investments in 2011, that represented a 29% decrease from 2010.
Corporate cleantech investments were concentrated in solar and wind power generation. Google Inc. and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) invested $189.0 million in four California solar farms totaling 88 MW of capacity. The projects will be built by Recurrent Energy Inc., a unit of Sharp Corp. NRG Energy Inc. acquired solar-power developer Solar Power Partners, deepening NRG's involvement in the solar power market.
MidAmerican Energy bought 49% of the $1.8 billion 290 MW Agua Caliente wind power project based in Yuma County, Arizona, which is being developed by NRG Energy. Duke Energy Corp. and American Transmission Co. bought a power line project to bring wind energy from Wyoming to the US Southwest.
John J.P. Howley
Woodbridge, New Jersey