Photo and caption: The White HouseGreen tech is back in the green.
Global venture capital investment in green technology companies reached $4.04 billion in the first half of 2010, exceeding — slightly — the record set in the boom year of 2008, according to a preliminary report released Thursday by the Cleantech Group and Deloitte.
Venture investment in the second quarter rose to $2.02 billion, up 43 percent from the year-ago quarter. Investments in the first half of the year spiked 65 percent from the same period in 2009.
“There’s been a very clear resurgence in solar activity and that is largely responsible for the strong quarter,” Richard Youngman, the Cleantech Group’s head of global research, said on a conference call Thursday.
Solar captured $811 million, or about 40 percent, of green technology investment in the second quarter, according to the Cleantech Group, a San Francisco-based consulting and research firm. It defines the global market as consisting of North America, China, India, Israel, and Europe.
Solyndra, a Silicon Valley thin-film solar panel maker, scored a $175 million investment while solar power plant builder BrightSource Energy took in $150 million.
It’s no coincidence that both companies have been the beneficiaries of the Obama administration’s push for renewable energy. Solyndra received a $535 million loan guarantee to build a new factory in the San Francisco Bay Area (which the president visited in May) and BrightSource was granted a $1.37 billion loan guarantee to get its first solar thermal power plant online.
Despite the recession, corporate America poured a record $5.1 billion into green tech companies in the first half of 2010, a 325 percent increase from a year ago.
“The significant strengthening of corporate and utility investment into the clean tech sector, relative to 2009, is very encouraging, given the key role they will play in enabling broader adoption of clean technologies at scale,” Scott Smith, Deloitte’s U.S. clean tech leader in the United States, said in a statement.
Youngman warned not to read too much into the success this week of Tesla Motor’s initial public offering. Though the Silicon Valley electric carmaker’s share price accelerated some 40.5 percent on opening day, he pointed out that high-profile IPOs from Solyndra and Goldwind, a Chinese wind turbine maker, were pulled recently.
In fact, head east if you want to get in on a booming IPO market — 12 of the 19 green tech offerings in the second quarter came from Chinese companies and raised $1.73 billion, or 75 percent of the total IPO take, according to the Cleantech Group.
The flip side, of course, is that the anemic IPO market in the United States also is driving venture capital investment as green tech firms are forced to raise private money.