Energy storage reaches high in quarterly cleantech investments

Technologies including batteries, fuel cells and flywheels garnered $421 million in the third quarter of 2011, with fuel cells accounting for more than half that amount.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Cleantech investments have gotten decidedly more conservative during the second half of 2011, with the attention turning from energy generation to energy storage and from start-ups to companies with real revenue on the balance sheet.

During the third quarter of 2011, energy storage technologies raised at least $421 million in investment funding, which was a whopping 1,932 percent increased from the year-earlier period. Fuel cells accounted for more than half that amount (54 percent.) Since the beginning of 2011, the sector has attracted approximately $865.2 million in financing.

That's according to the latest quarterly analysis of cleantech investment trends by Ernst & Young LLP. The analysis showed that overall investments in the quarter were $1.1 billion in the third quarter of 2011, which was up 73 percent from the year-earlier period. The number of deals during the quarter was up 36 percent to 76 transactions, according to Ernst & Young.

The cleantech category attracting the second highest amount of money during the third quarter was energy/electricity generation, at $255.1 million. That was off about 2 percent from the 2010 timeframe. Solar was still the single biggest technology in this category, attracting 77 percent of total investment.

Energy efficiency technologies ranked third in terms of third-quarter cleantech investments, according to E&Y. There was $245.1 million put into this area, up 23 percent. E&Y notes that the largest energy-efficiency transaction was related to Bridgelux, an LED technology provider that attracted $60 million during the third quarter.

A few other data highlights:

  • The bulk of venture capital ($921 million) went to companies already producing revenue, rather than startups.
  • California was the biggest winner, regionally speaking, in attracting cleantech investments; in the third quarter, companies from California snagged 52 percent of the money, followed by Massachusetts. Companies from Pennsylvania and Oregon, however, had more than triple the investments in the third quarter 2011 compared with one year earlier.
  • There were no cleantech initial public offerings in the quarter, although these companies are in the IPO pipeline: Intermolecular, Silver Spring Networks, Renewable Energy Group, Genomatica and Mascoma

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