Even though the number of deals declined (69 this year down from 79 last year) U.S. venture capital (VC) investment in cleantech companies increased by 54% to $1.14 billion in Q1 2011, according to an Ernst & Young LLP analysis based on data from Dow Jones VentureSource.
The top 10 deals in Q1 2011 totaled $683.1 million, 60% of the total raised for the quarter and two deals accounted for 18% of the total dollars raised.
"The U.S. cleantech market experienced continuing momentum - both from a venture capital perspective and among the larger investment community. The second generation of solar companies and larger, later stage rounds dominated VC investor interest in Q1," said Jay Spencer, Ernst & Young LLP's Americas Cleantech Director.
The Energy / Electricity Generation segment, led by strong solar investments, raised $450.3 million through 16 deals in Q1 2011. The solar sub-segment accounted for 32% of the total dollars raised for the quarter with $362.7 million, a 162% gain from Q1 2010.
MiaSole, a Northern California manufacturer of copper indium gallium selenide thin-film photovoltaic solar panels, was the largest deal of the quarter. The company raised $106 million in a later-stage round of financing, 24% of total dollars in Q1 2011.
Alta Devices, a Northern California company that focuses on improving the production economics of high efficiency solar PV applications, had the fourth largest deal of the quarter with $72 million third round financing.
Large investments also bolstered the Energy Storage segment to be the second largest in terms of dollars in Q1 2011. The segment is up 671% year on year after raising $262.4 million through 10 deals. Battery companies drew in $121 million of this investment compared to $8 million in Q1 2010, a 1405% increase, while Fuel cell companies attracted $106 million in Q1 2011, a 308% increase year on year. Two deals accounted for 64% of the dollars raised in the Energy Storage segment overall, including Bloom Energy, a California provider of fuel cell-based power generators, which raised $100 million.
The Industry Focused Products and Services segment ranked third with respect to total amount raised. It attracted $161.9 million, a 27% decrease from the $221 million raised in Q1 10. The largest deal in this segment was completed by Myriant Technologies, a Massachusetts developer of biocatalyst technologies for conversion of renewable feedstocks that raised $60 million.
The Alternative fuels segment, led by biofuel companies, raised $160 million, 14% of the total dollars raised in Q1 2011. Finally, the Energy Efficiency sector raised $95 million in Q1 2011, down 49% from the $187 million raised in Q1 2010.