Finding Trends: Cleantech IPOs Skew Toward Biofuels, Materials, Energy Efficiency

Even before global markets reacted to the U.S. credit downgrade, IPOs for cleantech companies have been relatively few and far between. Still, the IPO data for the first half of 2011 reveals the kinds of alternative energy and green technology companies are going public—a good indication of which sectors are more likely to attract more venture funding in the future.

Altogether, 11 cleantech companies around the world made their public debuts during the second quarter that ended in June, raising $1.99 billion, according to data from the San Francisco-based Cleantech Group. (Six of those were Chinese IPOs in Asian markets that raised a total of $1.37 billion.)

Several IPO watchers characterized it as a strong quarter that’s more comparable to the first quarter of this year, when the Cleantech Group found that nine IPOs raised more than $2 billion, than to the previous year, which was distorted by several huge IPOs in the second quarter. (A list of the 20 cleantech IPOs so far this year is at the end of this story.)

Three U.S. cleantech companies went public during the second quarter that ended June 30, and two were biofuels companies: South San Francisco, CA-based Solazyme (NASDAQ: SZYM) raised a total of roughly $227 million (including over-allotments) before the Memorial Holiday weekend. Pasadena, TX-based KiOR (NASDAQ: KIOR) raised $150 million in late June. The third company to go public, Cambridge, MA-based Zipcar NASDAQ ZIP), raised $174 million in its April debut.

Zipcar also serves as an example of the inherent challenge in categorizing cleantech companies. While Zipcar ostensibly operates vehicles as part of a nationwide car-sharing service, the Cleantech Group counts Zipcar as a cleantech company because the company says each car shared takes 15 personally owned vehicles off the road, reducing overall gasoline consumption and lowering CO2 emissions by hundreds of thousands of tons each year. Some IPO watchers, however, don’t include Zipcar in their IPO tallies.

Including Gevo (NASDAQ: GEVO), a Denver-area renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company that raised … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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