US VC investments in solar firms strong in first quarter, according to Ernst & Young report



Solar investments were hot in the first quarter, even if overall PV market demand cooled considerably; according to the latest quarter report on US venture capital (VC) investment in cleantech companies from Ernst & Young. Solar-based companies received US$362.7 million in new investments in the first quarter of 2011, up 162% compared to the same period a year ago. This accounted for 39% of the total dollars raised for the quarter, which is compiled from data provided by Dow Jones VentureSource.

In total, VC investments totalled US$1.14 billion in the first quarter of 2011.

Specifically, MiaSolé generated the largest deal of the quarter, raising US$106 million in a later-stage round of financing, 24% of total dollars in Q1 2011. Alta Devices, a Northern California company that focuses on improving the production economics of high efficiency solar PV applications, had the fourth largest deal of the quarter with US$72 million third round financing.

According to the Ernst & Young report, corporate investments in solar were also in play with Innovalight and Taiwan-based Motech's partnership to develop solar cells using silicon ink.

Citigroup and SolarCity also set up a US$40 million fund for solar power projects.

“The US cleantech market experienced continuing momentum –- both from a venture capital perspective and among the larger investment community.  The second generation of solar companies and larger, later stage rounds dominated VC investor interest in Q1,” noted Jay Spencer, Ernst & Young LLP's Americas Cleantech Director.  

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