Slideshow: Solar Still Drives Cleantech Investing

Solar continued to be the driving force behind cleantech investing in the first quarter as venture capitalists shifted dollars to more mature, later stage companies.

The quarter saw investors worldwide pour $2.57 billion into 159 companies, a 13% increase in dollars from last year, according to the Cleantech Group. The majority of the money – 93% – went to follow-on rounds.

Surprisingly, this more cautious environment was fertile ground for solar deals. Solar startups attracted $641 million, or 24% of total dollars, as several big deals led the way. The next closest industry sector was transportation, with less than half the committed dollars.

One explanation is that many investors are looking toward lucrative exits in an improving market for IPOs and M&A. Solar companies funded over the past several years are now looking for expansion stage financing, especially thin-film solar cells makers, and could be in the position to capitalize on a stock offering. Of course, if this doesn’t come to pass, cleantech investing may find itself on the rocks for a spell.

Below find an analysis of first quarter cleantech investing by sector and following that a list of top quarterly deals. The information comes from the Cleantech Group and Thomson Reuters, publisher of this blog.

This is the third in a series of cleantech slideshows.

SLIDESHOW: TOP CLEANTECH DEALS BY CATEGORY

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