LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Venture investments in environmentally focused “cleantech” companies rose to a record $2 billion in the second quarter, led by funding for solar-thermal and new biofuel technologies, an industry group said.
The Cleantech Group LLC, whose members include venture capital firms, investment banks, and other investors, on Tuesday said worldwide cleantech venture investments were up 58 percent from the same period last year and 48 percent from the first quarter.
The previous quarterly record for cleantech investments was $1.8 billion in the third quarter of 2007.
Solar-thermal technology, which uses the sun’s heat to create steam to power a turbine, attracted $278 million of venture capital during the quarter. That funding went to companies such as: BrightSource Energy, SkyFuel, Infinia and Sopogy, Cleantech Group said.
Second-generation biofuel companies including Range Fuels, Sapphire Energy, Mascoma, EdeniQ, Amyris Biotechnologies, Greenline Industries, Fulcrum Bioenergy, Gevo, GreenFuel Technologies and Aurora BioFuels raised $280 million in venture investment during the quarter. Of that amount, $136 million was for cellulosic ethanol startups and $84 million was for algae biomass startups.
U.S. companies accounted for 74 percent of the $2 billion in venture investments, while European companies made up about 13 percent.
Chinese companies made up about 12 percent of the total, though Cleantech Group said Chinese cleantech-related investment funds raised more than $6.9 billion during the quarter, “reflecting strong potential for future growth in the Chinese cleantech sector.”
The top venture investors in cleantech were Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, Foundation Capital, Quercus Trust, Khosla Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
Reporting by Nichola Groom