Venture Capital investments in the first quarter of 2011 totaled more than $2.6 billion in over 115 deals. This most recent $2.6 billion quarter approaches the record $2.8 billion third quarter of 2008.

I'll leave it to bean-counters and economists to over-analyze the data, but suffice it to say that the reports of the death of greentech VC are greatly exaggerated.

U.S. venture capital investments in greentech totaled $3.7 billion in 2010, according to the MoneyTree Report. The global number was $7.8 billion, according to the Cleantech Group. Realize that the entire venture capital asset class is in the $25 billion range.

Greentech Media has the 2008 total as $7.6 billion in 350 deals and the 2009 number as $4.85 billion in 356 deals. The total was $3.4 billion in 2007.

I have learned not to interpret strong VC numbers as a proxy for a healthy greentech industry or the sectors therein. If that were the case, we would all be driving cars fueled by corn ethanol and every electricity consumer would be programming a home energy monitoring appliance.

If you'd like to see every deal we've tracked this year, here's a link to January part 1 and part 2, February, and March. Again, I'll leave it to others to make pronouncements on the role of capital efficiency, the death of early stage-investing, and the end of VC investment in solar.

The ten biggest deals of the quarter:

BrightSource Energy (Oakland, Calif.) raised a $201 million Round E for its concentrated solar power (CSP) technology and deployment, bringing its total funding to more than $530 million in private equity. That funding is in addition to a federal loan guarantee of $1.3 billion. The investors include Alstom, a French power plant player, as well as the usual suspects -- Vantage Point Venture Partners, Alstom, CalSTRS, DFJ, DBL Investors, Chevron Technology Ventures, and BP Technology Ventures, together with new investors with assistance from Advanced Equities.  VentureWire reports that the latest round values the company in excess of $700 million.

Fisker Automotive (Irvine, California), an electric vehicle maker, raised $150 million at a $600 million pre-money valuation (according to VentureWire), from New Enterprise Associates and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The firm previously raised $350 million in VC, as well as a $528 million loan from the DOE.  

Plasco Energy Group (Ottawa, Ontario), a converter of MSW into renewable energy, raised $145 million in equity funding led by Soros Fund Management.

MiaSolé (Santa Clara, Calif.) raised $106 million for their CIGS thin-film solar panels. The startup's investors include Kleiner Perkins, Firelake Capital and VantagePoint Venture Partners.

Kleiner and TCV made a $135 million investment into OSIsoft, a developer of data management solutions for industrial energy efficiency applications.  

Bloom Energy (Sunnyvale, Calif.) raised $100M from Kleiner Perkins, NEA, and Morgan Stanley, according to Dow Jones VentureWire, for their solid oxide fuel cell.

CODA Holdings (Santa Monica, Calif.), a maker of lithium-ion battery systems and all-electric cars, raised a $76 million Round D from Harbinger Capital Partners,  Riverstone Holdings, Aeris Capital and Angeleno Group. The firm has raised more than $200 million in VC funding, plus a $294 million line of credit from the Bank of Tianjin Joint-Stock.

Solyndra (Fremont, California), a manufacturer of cylindrical solar PV systems for industrial and commercial rooftops, closed $75 million of a secured credit facility underwritten by existing investors. Solyndra had annual revenues exceeding $140 million in 2010 and has shipped almost 100 megawatts of panels for more than 1,000 installations in 20 countries, according to the CEO.

Fulcrum BioEnergy (Pleasanton, California), a next-generation ethanol producer, raised $75 million in Round C funding from Rustic Canyon Partners, U.S. Renewables Group, et al.

Alta Devices (Santa Clara, Calif.), a developer of GaAs-based thin-film photovoltaics, raised $72 million from August Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Crosslink Capital, DAG Ventures, New Enterprise Associates , Presidio Ventures, Technology Partners, Dow Chemical and new investors Alberta Investment Management Corporation, Good Energies, Energy Technology Ventures, and Constellation Energy. 

Tags: batteries, biofuels, cigs, demand response, dfj, doe, efficiency, electric cars, energy efficiency, finance, firelake, kleiner, kleiner perkins, kleiner perkins caufied & byer, kleiner perkins caufied & byers