All in all, it's been a record-breaking year for greentech.
Oil prices broke all-time highs and neared or passed the inflation-adjusted record -- depending on how you calculate the record set during the oil crisis of 1981 (see Is $90 Oil Good for Greentech?).
Solar and wind installations, as well as biofuel production, soared well beyond last year's records (see Largest U.S. Solar-Electric Installation Completed and Forecast: Strong Winds).
And a consensus of scientists from more than 130 countries called global warming "unequivocal" (see Report Predicts Global Disaster, IPCC Report Forecasts More Trouble and Can Technology Save the World?).
Here are our recaps of the top trends in 2007:
- Finance & Venture Capital: Investment Keeps Growing
- Policy: Policy Grows Greener
- Biofuels: Biofuels Gain Green Despite Troubles
- Solar: Silicon Shortage Slows Solar Industry
- Transportation: Road to Green Transportation Proves Bumpy
- Energy Efficiency: Light Bulbs' Time to Shine
Greentech investment numbers varied widely depending on who did the counting. But by all accounts, venture capitalists poured more money into greentech this year than ever before.
Thomson Financial and the National Venture Capital Association said U.S. venture-capital firms invested $2.6 billion in greentech in the first three quarters of this year, up 46 percent from the $1.78 billion invested in all four quarters last year (see Greentech VC Hits $2.6B in U.S.).
VentureOne and Ernst & Young said cleantech investments reached $1.1 billion in the first half of the year, up 44 percent from the $764.3 million invested during the same period last year (see Global Greentech VC Hits $1.1B).
The Cleantech Network tracked a whopping $3.64 billion in North American and European deals in the first three quarters, with North American deals making up $2.87 billion of the total (see Wal-Mart Asks for Help to Achieve Green Goals). That's up 10.4 percent from North American cleantech deals in 2006, which amounted to $2.6 billion. And last year's figure was a 78-percent increase from the $1.6 billion invested in 2005.
Some of the biggest deals included a $200 million funding for Project Better Place in October, which was bolstered with $30 million more in December, a $101 million round for HelioVolt, a $100 million round for GreatPoint Energy and a $100 million round for Imperium Renewables.
And investments show no signs of stopping next year, as venture capitalists closed numerous new greentech funds.
Among others, Najafi Companies in December launched Energy Capital Investments and armed it with $100 million to invest in green-energy projects. The same month, Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital and Robeco announced a joint venture fund with €50 million (about $72 million) in startup capital (see Chrysalix Announces New €50M Fund).
Expansion Capital Partners closed a $103 million fund in September, Climate Change Capital closed a €200 million fund for green investments the same month, Technology Partners closed a $300 million fund for cleantech and biotech in July and Piper Jaffray closed a $60 million fund of venture-capital cleantech funds for institutional investors in January, putting money into Draper Fisher Jurvetson, VantagePoint Venture Partners and Nth Power, among others.
But some industry watchers have questioned whether enough good investments are available to justify all that capital. A study earlier this year by New Energy Finance found that VCs were able to invest just 73 percent of the funds they had raised and had not been able to spend $2 billion of the money they had available.