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Dominating cleantech investment

The Western U.S., led by California, continued to dominate national cleantech investment in 2010.The Mountain Region, Pacific Northwest and California collectively completed 154 deals equaling $2.76 billion in 2010. The Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the US jointly secured 74 deals, which amounted to $625.79 million.

Overall, U.S. venture capital (VC) investment in cleantech companies increased by 8 percent to $3.98 billion in 2010 from $3.7 billion in 2009, and deal total increased by 7 percent to 278, according to an Ernst & Young LLP analysis based on data from Dow Jones VentureSource.

VC investment in cleantech in Q4 2010 reached $979 million with 72 financing rounds, flat in terms of deals and down 14 percent in terms of capital invested compared with Q4 2009.

"In comparison to the early days of cleantech, the 2010 US VC investment results reflect a turning point in the industry due to improving credit and capital markets, the deployment of stimulus spending and increasing corporate cleantech adoption," said Jay Spencer, Ernst & Young LLP's Americas Cleantech Director.

Solar investments shape annual growth

The Energy Electricity segment raised $1.32 billion in 2010, the most VC funding for the year, which was largely attributed to investments in follow-on solar deals and a second generation of solar companies. Investments in solar in 2010 increased by 77 percent to $1.58 billion.

In Q4 2010 solar investments reached $279.17 million, an increase of 129 percent compared with the same period last year.The largest deal for all of Q4 2010 was completed by Abound Solar, a Fort Collins, Colo.-based provider of photovoltaic modules, which raised $111.18 million. Another notable deal in this segment: a solar cell developer, SoloPower Inc. of San Jose, Calif., raised $51.57 million.

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