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Clean tech attracted less money in 2011, but yearly investments still beat 2009

In terms of investments made, venture capitalists dealing in clean technology across the country were nearly as active in 2011 as they were in 2010, but the total dollar value of their investments declined around 4.5 percent, according to an Ernst & Young LLP analysis.

The analysis was based on information from Dow Jones VentureSource, and it showed that while there was a decrease from 2010 to 2011, the $4.87 billion invested in 2011 still represented a 29 percent increase from 2009.

The year finished with its weakest quarter. Just more than $940 million in venture capital entered the clean tech marketplace during the final three months of the year.

Jay Spencer, Ernst & Young LLP’s Americas clean-tech director, said in a statement that the back-to-back years with investments nearing or reaching $5 billion show a renewed interest and opportunity in clean technology.

“Cleantech is still in the early stages of a long-term journey,” Spencer said. “We’ve reached a point where new products and services are ready to be launched …”

According to the analysis, released Wednesday, energy and electricity generation investment led all categories in 2011 with $1.5 billion raised, representing a 5 percent decrease from 2010. The subset of $284.5 million in solar investments accounted for the largest share of that total. Energy storage, a separate category, ranked third in investment dollars with $932.6 million – about 253 percent more than the 2010 total.. Sandwiched between energy generation and storage, the value of investments in products and services was down 34 percent year-to-year despite totaling about $1 billion.

California led the country in investments for the year, closing out 2011 by attracting $629.5 million in the fourth quarter, or about 67 percent of the national total. Most of those dollars, around $532 million, went to Northern California companies. Still, Southern California’s $97 million in fourth-quarter investment was eclipsed by only one of the 11 measured regions in the nation – the Mid-Atlantic, which tallied $116.4 million.

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