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U.S. clean-tech investment falls 45% in fourth quarter

February 8, 2010 |  4:28 pm

Tesla

Clean-tech companies raked in just $564.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, a 45% plunge from the previous quarter, according to research released Monday.

But the number of deals jumped 21% to 62 total, according to analysis from Ernst & Young, using data from Dow Jones VentureSource. California dominated, with 32 deals over the course of the quarter, pulling in $333.72 million.

In all of 2009, investment in the clean-tech sector hit $2.6 billion with 193 deals, a 50% plunge in dollar amount and a 16% slide in the number of deals compared to 2008.

The San Francisco Bay Area led the charge, with $1.2 billion in investments pouring in throughout the year; $295.6 million coming in during the fourth quarter. Southern California came in next, raising $329.5 million in 2009, with $30.5 million invested in the last quarter. New England brought in $283.7 million for the entire year, $38 million of it during the fourth quarter.

Energy efficiency was the top-performing category last year, with 61 deals attracting $593.3 million, roughly a third of the total financing activity in the clean-tech sector. It also pulled in the most venture capitalist investment of the fourth quarter, with $252.8 million across 22 deals, compared to $133.7 million across 14 deals the previous quarter.

The largest deal of the quarter across all clean-tech segments was also an energy-efficiency deal -- a $105-million investment in smart grids networking provider Silver Spring Networks Inc. of Redwood City. But the capital-intensive energy and electricity generation category tumbled in the fourth quarter, to $118.5 million across 11 deals from $316.5 million over 8 deals. The $38-million investment in Nordic Windpower Holdings Inc. in Berkeley represented the largest deal of the quarter. The segment drew $654.6 million in funding in all of 2009.

The industry-focused products and services sector raised $76.7 million in the quarter with 11 deals, while drawing $608 million in the entire year. Transportation represented a large portion of the investment, pulling in $33.8 million in the fourth quarter and $362.7 million for the year with deals such as the $82.5 million directed to San Carlos electric car company Tesla Motors.

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Tesla Motors, which makes an all-electric Roadster, unveiled a prototype of the Model S, a four-door electric sedan, at the SpaceX factory in Hawthorne in March. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

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