No sign of "Solyndra effect"

Mercom Capital Group released figures today that showed that there is confidence in solar technology and ventures, as venture capital (VC) funding rose to 1.9 billion, across 111 deals, in 2011.

Thin-film technology attracted the most funding, with Mercom reporting that it attracted USD595.5 million across 17 deals in 2011. Downstream companies (USD339 million), crystalline-silicon photovoltaics (USD338 million), concentrated solar power (USD308 million) and concentrated photovoltaics (129 million), all followed thin film.

Of the thin-film VC investments, emerging CIGS module manufacturers Stion and MiaSolé featured prominently, attracting USD130 million and USD106 million respectively. Downstream solar thermal company BrightSource topped the list, having raised USD201 million.

Mercom Capital note, in a statement announcing their results, that while Solyndra’s failure dominated headlines in the U.S., over USD700 million of VC investments were made after the company’s collapse.

In confirmation of a trend that has been predicted by many in the industry, there were twice as many mergers and acquisitions (M&A), in dollar terms, in 2011 than in 2010. French oil giant Total’s majority stake in SunPower was the largest M&A deal, accounting for USD1.4 billion of the USD4 billion total for the year.

"Falling panel prices and oversupply brought about a lot of consolidation activity," said Raj Prabhu, managing partner of Mercom in the statement. "With valuations of publicly-traded solar companies at record lows, M&A was the go-to exit strategy."