Clean Technology Venture Deals Rise While Dollars Fall in 1Q 2012

April 6, 2012

According to information from Cleantech Group, the number of venture deals for clean technology rose in the first quarter of 2012 even though the dollar total of the funding deals declined modestly. The firm reports that early-stage deals appear to be on the rise again, and the mergers and acquisition market remains strong.

The market intelligence firm today released preliminary 1Q 2012 results from its i3 platform for worldwide clean technology venture investments, totaling $1.81 billion.

Specifically, 185 deals were recorded in 1Q12 – up from 176 in 4Q11. Of these deals, 56 percent (104) were Series B or later rounds, accounting for 88 percent ($1.59 billion) of all money invested during the quarter. While deal counts rose, the total amount invested in cleantech companies dropped by 19 percent compared to the previous quarter ($2.23 billion) and was 31 percent lower than the same quarter a year ago ($2.62 billion).

“North American cleantech investors are exhibiting caution on the large dollar deals that often drive total venture investment,” explained Cleantech Group CEO Sheeraz Haji, “yet the continued strength in deal count means that promising, early stage teams are finding a receptive audience.” Reflecting on the strength of the M&A market, Haji commented that, “we continue to see very active acquirers and blockbuster mergers, indicating that global corporations take competitiveness in this sector more seriously than ever.”

Here is a look at venture investments delineated by technology sectors:

The leading sector in the quarter by amount invested was air & environment ($442 million), followed by biofuels & biomaterials ($283 million) and solar ($249 million). Solar and energy efficiency were the most popular sector measured by number of deals, with 28 funding rounds apiece. The largest transactions in the top three sectors were:

AIR & ENVIRONMENT – $442 million in 9 deals

GreatPoint Energy, a Massachusetts-based developer of a catalytic gasification technology to convert coal, petroleum coke and biomass into clean natural gas, raised $420 million in a Series D round led by China-based Wanxiang Group.

FuelQuest, a Texas-based provider of environmental compliance and remote tank monitoring software to the petroleum marketers, raised $10 million in an equity financing round led by Talis Capital.

Senova Systems, a California-based provider of solid-state pH sensing meters and technology, raised $6.7 million from Harris & Harris Group and Phoenix Venture Partners in a Series B round.

BIOFUELS & BIOMATERIALS – $283 million in 14 deals

Joule, a Massachusetts-based provider of diesel and ethanol directly derived from sunlight and CO2 using micro-organisms, raised $70 million in a Series C round led by Flagship Ventures.

LanzaTech, a New Zealand-based developer of a process that increases industrial energy efficiency by capturing waste gases (CO, CO2) and converting them to fuels and chemicals, raised $55.8 million from Khosla Ventures, K1W1 and others in a Series C round.

Renmatix, a Pennsylvania-based developer of technology to allow the production of sugar-based biofuel from cellulosic feedstocks, raised $50 million from BASF Venture Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in a Series C round.

SOLAR – $249 million in 28 deals

SolarCity, a California-based provider of design, financing and maintenance services for solar power customers, raised $81 million from DBL Investors, Silver Lake and others in an equity financing round.

Nanosolar, a California-based developer of CIGS thin-film photovoltaic solar cells and flexible modules using nano-ink printing technology, raised $20 million from Mohr Davidow, Arsenal Venture Partners and others in an equity financing round.

Solar Junction, a California-based developer of high efficiency concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar cells, raised $19.2 million from New Enterprise Associates, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and others in a Series D round.

A world venture investment perspective reads as follows:

North America accounted for 73 percent of the total, while Europe and Israel accounted for 19 percent and Asia Pacific for 8 percent.

In North America, Massachusetts led the way with $530 million in investments (40 percent share), followed by California ($500 million, 38 percent) and Pennsylvania (67 million, 5 percent). The largest deals included MA-based GreatPoint Energy ($420 million), CA-based Fisker Automotive ($130 million) and CA-based SolarCity ($81 million).

EUROPE & ISRAEL: European and Israeli companies raised $341 million, staying roughly at the same level as 4Q11 but down 6 percent from1Q11. There were 52 deals, marking quite a leap from 37 in 4Q11. The largest deals were for UK-based Tamar Energy ($101 million), UK-based Bluewater Bio ($35.9 million) and UK-based Intelligent Energy ($35 million).

ASIA PACIFIC: Asian companies raised $149 million in 16 disclosed rounds in 1Q12, down 51 percent from 4Q11 and 30 percent from 1Q11. The largest deals were for New Zealand-based LanzaTech ($55.8 million), India-based Doshion ($34 million) and China-based Growatt ($15.9 million).

Here are details on global M&As and IPOs:

M&A transactions involving clean technology totaled 77 transactions in 1Q12, of which totals were disclosed for 18 transactions totaling $15.1 billion. Notable deals included Pentair’s acquisition of Tyco Flow Control, a manufacturer and marketer of valves, actuators and controls for the water and environmental protection industries, for $4.9 billion, and Eastman Chemical’s acquisition of Solutia, a producer of plastic performance materials including coatings and fluids for the solar industry, for $4.7 billion.

There were 14 clean technology IPOs during the quarter, totaling $1.03 billion, down from 16 IPOs totaling $4.27 billion in 4Q11. The largest IPO was for China-based Shouhang Resource Saving, a developer of energy conservation projects, equipments and technologies, which raised $131 million from an offering on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. The most notable venture-backed IPO was for California-based Enphase Energy, a provider of solar energy management systems including microinverters, which raised $54 million on the NASDAQ.

IPO activity in cleantech heated up at the end of this quarter as a number of companies took important steps towards a public offering. Anticipated pricings in the coming weeks include Luca Technologies, Brightsource, and Enerkem.

Finally, here are the top global cleantech venture capital investors:

Venture Capital Firm # of rounds Companies
Draper Fisher Jurvetson 9 Solar JunctionIntematix CorporationSCIenergyShanghai Dajun Technologies

Pentalum Technologies

Oasys Water



Jing-Jin Electric (JJE)

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) 6 Fisker AutomotiveRenmatixSolidia TechnologiesGlori Energy



Braemar Energy Ventures 5 BioformixAlbeo TechnologiesNuventixLumenergi


SAIL Capital Partners 5 WaterHealthFlexEnergySNTech CompanyActiveion

M2 Renewables

BASF Venture Capital 4 RenmatixSolidia TechnologiesAllylixFRX Polymers
Source: Cleantech Group’s i3 Platform




Glenn Meyers

Writer, documentary producer, and director. Meyers is a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.