LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Investments in environmentally friendly “clean-tech” companies rose 44 percent to more than $5 billion last year as soaring oil prices, climate change concerns and government incentives boosted interest in renewable energy, an industry group said.
The Cleantech Group LLC, whose members include venture capital firms, investment banks, and other investors, on Thursday said 2007 venture investment in the alternative energy market in North America and Europe was $5.18 billion, compared with $3.6 billion the previous year.
The 2006 rise was also 44 percent.
The number of financing deals in the industry increased 15 percent last year to 268, and the average deal size rose 20 percent to $14.7 million, Cleantech said.
Energy generation companies were the biggest recipients, racking up financing of $2.75 billion, the group said. Solar, wind and biofuels were among the alternative generation industries to receive venture funding, according to John Balbach, a managing partner at the Cleantech Group.
“This market is beginning to pick up speed as the numbers of technologies and solutions are increasing,” Balbach said.
Second on the list were energy storage companies with $471 million in funding, followed by transportation firms with $445 million.
“More new car companies were financed in the last 12 months than probably in the last 50 or 60 years,” Balbach said, calling the growth of investments in electric and other “green” vehicles “a significant trend.”
Energy efficiency companies were fourth on the list with total financing of $356 million, and recycling & waste companies were number five with $291 million, Cleantech said.
Investment in the industry is expected to grow at a 20 percent to 30 percent clip annually, Balbach said, adding that increasing amounts of funding would be directed into companies in China and India.
Water companies and those focused on “green” buildings are also major growth opportunities, Balbach added.
Reporting by Nichola Groom, editing by Leslie Gevirtz