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Cleantech Deals of the Year 2011

First published in Cleantech Deals of the Year 2011, Copyright Cleantech Investor 2012

Cleantech Deals of the Year 2011
Equity investment in cleantech remained healthy during 2011, despite the credit crunch. Stock market funding failed to materialise for all but a few companies - and there is something of a backlog of IPOs in the sector.

Public market activity which did take place was concentrated in China, with Chinese stock markets (Hong Kong as well as Shenzen and Shanghai) dominating the IPO space and accounting for two thirds of all new listings.

On NASDAQ, the renewable fuels, or biofuels, sector dominated with the high profile IPOs of Gevo, KiOR and Solazyme.

Venture capital investment in the cleantech sector continued to play an important role, however. Merger and acquisition activity was also buoyant during 2011 - with a notable theme being the growing presence of large industrials in the space, and not just in the traditional sectors like wind. Companies such as GE, ABB, Siemens, Alstom and Schneider made investments in sectors from marine renewables to electric vehicle charging technology.

An emerging theme in biofuels/renewable fuels is the focus on a biorefinery approach; second generation biofuel companies are concentrating on a full range of products, including bioplastics and biochemicals alongside fuels. This trend was reflected in industry investment in the sector, with large plastic users such as Coca Cola entering the space. Meanwhile, the major oil companies continue to invest in biofuels. Notable in 2011 was BP, which made further investments in the Brazilian sugarcane ethanol space.  

Energy storage was something of a magnet for VC funding in 2011, with companies having innovative grid storage technologies in particular attracting funding. The electric vehicle battery sector was less in vogue - with some players suffering.

Amongst the EV manufacturers, there was a successful follow-on public offering for NASDAQ-listed Tesla, and BYD shares were listed through an IPO on the Shenzen exchange. At the VC stage, Fisker raised Series C funding and Coda raised Series D capital. The EV charging infrastructure sub-sector was a key focus of attention for industrial companies, with investments by GE, ABB, Toyota and Qualcomm in a variety of companies with innovative business models and technology.

An exciting trend in renewable energy projects is that companies from outside the sector are making equity investments in the space. Examples included the Ikea Group investing in wind and Google investing in solar.

Consolidation was the name of the game amongst the large quoted renewable energy operators owned by firms such as utilities and infrastructure companies, with both Iberdrola and EDF acquiring their renewables subsidiaries. EDP, meanwhile, attracted a strategic investment from China Three Gorges, which will work with EDP Renovables.

High profile bankruptcies in the solar sector, as polysilicon prices slumped, failed to deter investors in niche solar technologies. Warren Buffett made a high profile investment in thin film solar, while ABB and GE followed the lead of Siemens and Alstom to invest in concentrated solar. Concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) was a focus of investor attention.

The large industrials were also notable participants in the marine energy space, with investments from Siemens, ABB and Alstom. And they were out in force in the smart grid/energy management sectors, where investors included ABB, GE, Toshiba, Siemens and Schneider.

In LED lighting, Cree acquired Ruud, while VC-backed Nualight became a consolidator in niche retail LEDs.

In the water sector, the entry of private equity players was of note, with Permira taking a stake in Netafim.

This publication provides background information on the key equity deals which took place in the cleantech sector during 2011. There are just over 200 equity transactions featured, covering all equity asset classes (stock market listings, venture capital and merger and acquistion activity). In most cases, the deals are organised in a thematic way, by sub-sector, rather than asset class. The publication includes comment on the themes and trends becoming evident in each sub-sector. We hope you will find it an interesting and valuable summary of cleantech investment during 2011.

Sectors covered are: 
Bioplastics/Plastics Recycling
Electric Vehicles


Renewable Energy Operators
EV Charging Infrastructure
Marine Energy
Renewable Fuels/Chemical
Energy Storage
Thin Film Solar
Fuel Cells
Energy Management
Concentrated Solar
Cleantech IPOs
Wind Energy

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