Solar not so bright in attracting clean energy investment

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A report out from New Energy Finance highlights some interesting things
about clean energy investments in 2007. Though solar is gaining
significant attention in the media and the industry growing 30 percent
per annum, it trails way behind other clean energy industries when it
comes to attracting capital.

According to New Energy Finance, 2007 was a very strong year for
investing, regardless of the more general credit crunch. New money
invested in the sector grew to $117.2 billion, up 41 percent compared
to 2006. Importantly, the research firm thinks this will continue in
2008!

However, looking at the solar sector it was able to
attract $5.9 billion of new money in 2007. Compared to the $24.8
billion invested in wind power, solar is trailing by a significant
margin!

It should be noted, however, that investment in solar
projects was significantly up on 2006 and according to New Energy
Finance was 82 percent higher than 2006.

In public market
investments, solar companies fared better, helped in part by the $1.1
billion IPO of REC. However, it was VC and PE companies that put the
lion’s share of money into solar in 2007, to the tune of approximately
$3 billion.

Noted were the investments in thin-film technology
such as that of HelioVolt that raised $101 million, while Solyndra
raised $80 million and SoloPower attracted $30 million.

“At the
start of 2007 we said that the clean energy industry had to deliver
clean, cost-effective power and fuels in large volume in order to
justify investors’ enthusiasm,” noted Michael Liebreich, Chairman and
CEO of New Energy Finance. “That remains just as true today: investors’
enthusiasm still outstrips the industry’s current contribution to
solving the world’s environmental and energy security problems.
However, progress is being made on scaling up a number of sectors,
particularly wind, solar, biomass and energy efficiency. The wave of
liquidity washing through the sector shows no signs of abating and,
despite the dark clouds still massed over the world’s credit markets,
2008 looks set to be another banner year.”

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