Jeff St. John at GigaOm is reporting that venture capital firms have invested about $2.5 billion into green technology during the first quarter of 2011. The figure, compiled by Cleantech Group and reported by CNET, is only topped by the $3 billion invested in the third quarter of 2008. Cleantech has been tracking data since 2002.
However, St. John notes that much of the investment was concentrated in large deals for late-stage companies in renewable energy or electric vehicles. Meanwhile, there has been a decline in investments in early stage companies, probably because of the lack of returns. This leads St. John to question whether the upswing has to do with the renewed confidence of investors or whether VCs are stepping into an area that could be met by public markets. Thin-film solar module maker Solyndra canceled its IPO last year to instead raise money from existing investors. Other solar companies as well as electric vehicle makers have also turned to follow-on investments.
Despite these examples, there are certainly companies that have bucked this trend. China’s Sinovel Wind, for instance, had a 9.46 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) public offering in Shanghai, making it the quarter’s biggest green tech IPO. And early-stage companies, like C3Nano raising $3.2 million to develop nanomaterials for solar panels, have captured a fair amount of investment money.
For more details, read St. John’s entire article here.