Early Signs Of A Rebound In Cleantech Deals May Be Visible

Cleantech venture fundings have been slow as of late.

In the second quarter, dollars invested in the emerging industry fell 23% to $942 million according to the MoneyTree Report put out by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters, publisher of peHUB.

For all of 2010, money placed with alternative energy, smart grid and other startups in this sector slumped almost 8% from 2008, the last strong year.

There are tentative signs of a turnaround. This is according to the cleantech blog Greentech Media, which reports Tuesday that in July alone more than $560 million went into 40 financings. The blog, which I link to below, includes a comprehensive list of deals.

In the interests of space, I will include just a handful of those mentioned in the article. For instance, solar installer SolarCity, eager to raise $42 million, took in $14.8 million, while solar cell maker CaliSolar roped in $26 million and bio-chemicals developer OPX Biotechnologies raised $36.5 million. Another solar company, Plextronics, received $15 million, the Greentech Media post reports.

Meanwhile, smart grid company Gridco got $12.5 million and sodium battery maker Aquion Energy collected $20 million. Xtreme Power, a maker of control systems for energy storage, finished a $19 million round, and fuel cell maker ClearEdge Power took in $13.5 million.

Not to be overlooked, LED lighting chip manufacturer Bridgelux raised $60 million as rumors of an IPO continue to swirl.

The rest of the list came be found here.

Despite this apparent surge, it is hard to discern long term venture trends from a smattering of current fundings. In the second quarter, while overall dollars fell, deal volume rose modestly to 81 transactions from 76 a year ago. Smaller rounds were the faire des courses.

The same could be happening now. And yet one thing is clear. Given the coming global climate crisis, time is on the side of cleantech investors. Someday there will be a gold rush in cleantech. The question is when.