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

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actually gone public [at least in the U.S],” says Pohlen. The lawyer also predicts that venture investment will continue in the cleantech sector, encouraged by continuing liquidity events that comprise both IPOs and buyouts.

“The trend, if there is a trend in cleantech, is that many IPOs were previously focused on biofuels and biofuel-related companies,” says Matt Sapp, an Ernst & Young partner in Silicon Valley who also serves as the firm’s West Region Cleantech Leader. “We’re beginning now to see more non-biofuel IPO filings by companies like Enphase, Brightsource, and Silver Springs Networks.”

Energy generation, new materials, and energy efficiency are emerging as attractive sectors, Sapp says. In Ernst & Young’s analysis of cleantech venture funding during the quarter, Sapp says, “we actually saw an increase in energy efficiency deals. The venture industry is really looking for more efficient business models and cleantech software innovations [in energy management] usually offer that.”

Sapp describes Silver Springs Networks as a smart play because the Redwood City, CA-company specializes in “smart grid” technology that helps electric utilities better manage the power grid—a complex task compounded by the challenge of managing demand as more electric vehicles plug in to recharge. “I definitely believe that smart grid [technology] is strong and growing, and it’s still an emerging area,” Sapp says.

Even though a number of cleantech IPOs in China have been focused on solar energy, Sapp says it’s not a trend he finds troubling. “The Chinese companies have [solar] figured out for manufacturing,” he says, “but the big breakthroughs in intellectual property are still coming from innovative companies in the United States, particularly in California.

Is Sapp looking for a step up in cleantech IPO activity?

“It’s hard to say. It depends on how well the economy holds up—and the markets,” Sapp says. “There are clearly a fair number of companies that are in the process of registering for IPOs.”

The Cleantech Group’s listing of cleantech IPOs through the first half of 2011:

Adecoagro SA Jan. 28    NYSE        $314M

AlgaeTec Jan. 13     Australian Stock Exchanges $6.75M

BYD June 21     Shenzhen Stock Exchange     $219M

Energix Renewable Energy May 5   Tel Aviv Stock Exchange $43.3M

Gevo Feb. 8   NASDAQ    $107.3M

Global Water Resources Jan. 12 Toronto Stock Exchange $61M

Hongli Tronic May 18   Shenzhen Stock Exchange $76.2M

Huaneng Renewable Energy June 10   Hong Kong Stock Exchange  $800M

Jiangsu Jixin Wind Energy Technology May 6  Shanghai Stock Exchange  $191M

Jiangsu Wier Li Environmental Protection Technologies March 15 Shenzhen Stock Exchange $8M

KiOR June 24  NASDAQ $150M

Mission NewEnergy (AUS)  April 20  NASDAQ $25M

Rosetta Green Feb. 22  Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) $6.1M

Sacred Sun May 6  Shenzhen Stock Exchange  $74.7M

Sinovel Wind Group Jan. 13  Shanghai Stock Exchange  $1.4B

Solazyme May 27   NASDAQ   $227.2M

Unilumin June 22   Shenzhen Stock Exchange   $57.2M

Wanli Ceramics Industry June 13 Korea Stock Exchange  $172.7M

Xuzhou Combustion Control Technology June 29 Shenzhen Stock Exchange  $152M

Zipcar April 14   NASDAQ    $174.2M

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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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