Published in: 2011 - A Review of Cleantech Equity Deals, January 2012
With the price of polysilicon falling by some 64% during 2011 to US$26.52, the biggest news in the sector involved bankruptcies of US firms, such as Solyndra, which could no longer compete with the Chinese. Some of the US companies which were suffering managed to find industry buyers – notably SunPower, which saw Total acquire a 66% stake.
Despite the travails of the industry, venture capital stage investment in innovative technologies was still in evidence. We feature a selection of deals in this section. There were also significant levels of venture capital investment in the thin film and concentrated solar areas – both covered separately in the following sections.
A notable trend was the purchase of solar project developers by Asian solar manufacturing companies, including the acquisition of CornerStone Power and Solar Power Inc. (featured earlier in the Renewable Energy Generators section). These deals follow a theme which dates back to the 2009 SunEdison acquisition by MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. and include the purchase of Recurrent Energy by Sharp, the largest Japanese solar panel manufacturer, for US$305 million in 2010. Asian companies see the need to acquire the project channels and financing projects – which will subsequently secure the market for their products.