Clean tech venture capital funding in the first quarter of 2009 hit $1 billion, according to “findings released today by the Cleantech Group in cooperation with Deloitte.”

For the authors of the findings, the headline news was global cleantech VC funding “dropped 41 percent during 1Q09, compared to the previous quarter.” But that $1 billion in Q1 is still huge. Compare it to Q1 2007, when the economy was still booming — and cleantech VC funding was “only” $900 million.

Or consider this — of that $1 billion spent in Q1 2009, nearly $700 million was spent in North America, which is more money than was spent all last year on relevant cleantech R&D by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which does virtually all federal R&D spending in this area.

The news continues to be “stimulus and venture capital sow seeds for cleantech industry’s ‘revival’.” Indeed, the global stimulus investment in cleantech has been unprecedented:

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Venture investing decreased in recent months, but governments representing nearly a dozen countries are now backing clean technologies through stimulus packages, loan guarantees and tax incentives (see Germany, U.S., Australia inject stimulus spending into cleantech).

A new report co-authored by economist Lord Nicholas Stern to be presented at the G20 Summit in London later this week estimates that almost $400 billion of roughly USD $2.6 trillion in economic stimulus allocations announced so far by G20 nations are earmarked for clean technologies such as renewable energy, improved electrical grids and cleaner cars.

Utilities and corporations are also stepping in to bankroll more mature companies.

“Governments are not the only significant new investors in cleantech… Utilities are also stepping up to fill the funding void and making equity investments in companies,” said Scott Smith, U.S. Leader of CleanTech for Deloitte.

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“Investment plans range from building and operating solar and wind systems to financing third party, shovel-ready projects. These moves underscore cleantech’s emergence as a significant and maturing market that will remain highly relevant — both during and following the economic downturn.”

For more on the U.S. stimulus, see “Progressives, Obama keep promise to jumpstart clean energy, economy.” The reporting goes on to state the obvious — the drop in VC funding is only temporary:

Indeed, it may be that cleantech represents a continued growth area for VCs as well. The global cleantech sector pulled in a whopping $8.4 billion in venture capital investment in 2008, a 38 percent increase from 2007 totals, marking the seventh straight year of growth [see here].

In contrast, total venture capital investment fell 8 percent in dollar volume and 4 percent in deal volume in 2008, according to the MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the U.S. National Venture Capital Association….

Some venture capitalists say the recent slowdown has allowed valuations to come down to more manageable levels and allow them to put capital to better use.

“Good companies continue to get financed even in these difficult months. There is still a lot of appetite,” said Erik Straser, a general partner with Mohr Davidow Ventures. Straser added that although new companies are getting funded investors are “looking to support existing companies and follow them through.”

Once we are out of the global recession, oil prices start to soar again, plus stronger federal and global clean energy and climate policy will start to kick in. Then cleantech VC funding will no doubt reached record levels.

This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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