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VC funding for solar technology rockets to $658 million

Mercom Capital have said that venture capitalist funding in solar technology for Q1 was off to a strong start coming in at $658 million, with $196 million coming from deals in CIGS technology.

Mercom Capital Group, a global clean energy communications and consulting firm, has released funding and merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the solar sector for the first quarter of 2011.

Venture capital (VC) funding in the solar sector came in at $658M in 25 deals, compared to $238M in the previous quarter. The trend was similar with M&A activity amounting to $1.4B in 18 transactions for Q1, compared to $266M in Q4 2010.

"Looking at the first quarter funding activities, it is clear that VC investor's appetite for solar has not gone away. In fact, this was the best VC funding quarter since Q2 of 2010 and the second best quarter since Q4 of 2008," commented Raj Prabhu, Managing Partner at Mercom Capital Group.

The top five funding deals were $201M raised by BrightSource Energy, a concentrated solar power (CSP) company. MiaSole, a CIGS thin-film panel maker raised $106M; Alta Devices, a GaAs thin-film developer raised $72M; Solopower, a CIGS flexible thin-film maker, raised $51.6M; and Kiran Energy, a project developer raised $30M.

Thin film companies attracted the most funding with $283M raised in seven deals. CIGS was the most popular technology within thin films accounting for $196M in four deals. CSP companies raised $212M in three deals, followed by $84M raised by solar downstream companies in six deals.

Top VC investors included Crosslink, Vantage Point, Convexa, Hudson Clean Energy and Kleiner Perkins.

In continuing with last year's trend, VC arms of companies remained active in the sector, including Alstom, BP, GE, Chevron, Dow Chemical, Intel and Hanwha. California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS), a pension fund, also invested.

Of the $9.8B announced in debt and other funding, Jinko Solar received $7.6B in credit from Bank of China.
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