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.



[slide title=”Top Solar Deals: No. 4″]

Alta Devices

  • Description: Develops thin-film solar cells
  • Location: Santa Clara, Calif.
  • Deal Value: $72M
  • VC Backers: Crosslink Capital, Dow Chemical, Duff Ackerman & Goodrich, Energy Technology Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates, Technology Partners, August Capital Management, others.

[slide title=”Top Solar Deals: No. 3″]


  • Description: Develops flexible thin film solar cells
  • Location: San Jose, Calif.
  • Deal Value: $78.58M
  • VC Backers: Crosslink Capital, Hudson Capital Management, Convexa

[slide title=”Top Solar Deals: No. 2″]


  • Description: Makes thin-film solar panels
  • Location: Santa Clara, Calif.
  • Deal Value: $106M
  • VC Backers: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Firelake Capital, VantagePoint Venture Partners

[slide title=”Top Solar Deals: No. 1″]

BrightSource Energy

  • Description: Develops solar thermal power plants
  • Location: Oakland, Calif.
  • Deal Value: $201.7M
  • VC Backers:VantagePoint Venture Partners, Alstom, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Chevron, BP Technology Ventures, DBL Investors, others

[slide title=”Top Transportation Deals: No. 2″]

Coda Automotive

  • Description: Develops electric cars
  • Location: Santa Monica, Calif.
  • Deal Value: $76.4M
  • VC Backers: Harbinger Capital Partners, Riverstone Holdings, Aeris Capital, Angeleno Group.

[slide title=”Top Transportation Deals: No. 1″]

Fisker Automotive

  • Description: Develops electric hybrid automobiles
  • Location: Irvine, Calif.
  • Deal Value: $150M
  • VC Backers: New Enterprise Associates, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Advanced Equities Capital Partners, A123 Systems, Palo Alto Investors

[slide title=”Top Materials Deals: No. 2″]


  • Description: Bio-chemical manufacturer
  • Location: San Diego, Calif.
  • Deal Value: $45M
  • VC Backers: VantagePoint Venture Partners, Bright Capital, Waste Management, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Alloy Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, TPG Growth

[slide title=”Top Materials Deals: No. 1″]

Plastic Logic

  • Description: Develops flexible plastic display screens and an e-reader
  • Location: Mountain View, Calif.
  • Deal Value: $200M
  • VC Backers: Rusonano, Oak Investment Partners

[slide title=”Other Top Cleantech Deals: No. 4″]

Fulcrum BioEnergy

  • Description: Converts solid waste into ethanol
  • Location: Pleasanton, Calif.
  • Deal Value: $75M
  • VC Backers: Rustic Canyon Partners, U.S. Renewables Group, others

[slide title=”Other Top Cleantech Deals: No. 3″]

Bloom Energy

  • Description: Develops fuel cells
  • Location: Sunnyvale, Calif.
  • Deal Value: $100M
  • VC Backers:not available

[slide title=”Other Top Cleantech Deals: No. 2″]


  • Description: Develops data analytics software for manufacturing
  • Location: San Leandro, Calif.
  • Deal Value: $135M
  • VC Backers: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Technology Crossover Ventures

[slide title=”Other Top Cleantech Deals: No. 1″]

Plasco Energy Group

  • Description: Gasifies solid waste for energy
  • Location: Ottawa, Canada
  • Deal Value: $143M
  • VC Backers: Soros Strategic Partners