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Cleantech VC Investment Down 63%

stack-of-money2Feeling the pinch of the global economic turndown, U.S. cleantech companies saw venture capital investment of $277 million for the first quarter of 2009, a drop of 63 percent when compared to the same period in 2008, according to research from Ernst & Young.

VC funding for all industries hit an 11-year low in the first quarter, dropping 50 percent, according to WSJ.com. In that period, VC funding totaled $3.9 billion in the U.S. down from $7.78 billion in the first quarter of 2008.

The decrease in overall funding for cleantech was less than the decline in the number of cleantech VC deals. Compared to the first quarter of 2008, there were 48 percent fewer cleantech VC deals in the same period of 2009.

Still, recent announcements of government initiatives and corporate commitments are “points of light” for cleantech firms, said Joseph A. Muscat, Americas Director of Cleantech, Ernst & Young, in a press release.

Here’s how certain cleantech segments fared.

  • Energy storage received $114 million in Q1 2009, up 128 percent from Q1 2008.
  • Battery storage received $69 million, up 37 percent.
  • Energy/electricity generation received $56 million, down 73 percent.
  • Fuel cell companies received $45 million, up from practically nothing in Q1 2008.

The report notes that while venture capital funding is slowing down, government and corporate partnerships are injecting funds into the marketplace.

For example, the report cited AT&T’s commitment to invest $565 million over 10 years on electric vehicles for its corporate fleet.

And President Obama’s recent budget proposal contains billions for cleantech.

At least one cleantech company is having luck raising money through the stock markets. Danish wind firm Vestas raised more than $1 billion in a recent public offering of 18.5 million shares, Businessweek reports.

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