Apr 04, 2012, Source: Peachtree Capital
In the first quarter of 2012, M&A activity in the greentech sector was headlined by acquisitions in the smart grid space. ABB acquired low-voltage electrical equipment supplier Thomas & Betts for $3.9 billion, Itron acquired SmartSynch for $100 million, and Peak Merger—a subsidiary of HIG Capital—bought out Comverge for $49 million. The Thomas & Betts acquisition extends an ABB smart grid buying spree that began in 2010, when ABB bought Baldor Electric and Ventyx.
Following a quiet couple of years in which it took a backseat to electric vehicles, the biofuel sector has recently seen a resurgence in funding. In the first quarter, investors made bets on biofuel conversion from sunlight and waste carbon dioxide (Joule, $70 million), waste gas (LanzaTech, $55.8 million), biomass and natural gas (Primus Green Energy, $12 million), cellulosic sugars (Virdia, $10 million), and waste paper (Novogy, $4 million).
Efficient lighting was among the most active areas of investment in the first quarter. LED startups Intematix and Bridgelux raised a combined $41.2 million to further their respective efforts to push for mainstream adoption of LED light bulbs, which remain significantly more expensive than their incandescent and CFL counterparts. Meanwhile, Albeo Technologies and Lumenergi garnered funding for efficient lighting on the industrial and commercial fronts; Albeo raised $8 million to expand its commercial LED operations, and Lumenergi raised $6.2 million to continue developing efficient lighting systems.
Thin-film CIGS solar has experienced a shakeout in the aftermath of the Solyndra collapse. Funding has become increasingly difficult to obtain, or in the case of Nanosolar, which managed to raise a $20 million round in February, come at a severely-reduced valuation. (Solar valuations overall have plummeted, as seen in Figure 1.) Yet investors also showed their willingness to still invest in differentiable CIGS technology: MiaSolé, having made tremendous strides in efficiency, closed an oversubscribed $55 million round and AQT Solar raised $18.7 million to develop its “CIGS 2.0” technology. In other areas of solar, high-efficiency CPV manufacturer Solar Junction raised $19.2 million in Series D financing, while leading solar installer SolarCity closed an $81 million round.