Q4 Wrap-up: Ending 2009 on a Greentech High

What a year. Coasting on the momentum that propelled cleantech to the forefront of venture capital investment in Q3, the fourth quarter capped off a year that, when all was said and done, saw a total of $4.85 billion invested in the sector. However, as the GigaOM Pro team observes in the latest quarterly Green IT wrap-up, “Cleantech Was a Market Leader in Q4” (subscription required), some unease bubbled to the surface as the year drew to a close.

Greentech VC investment, which totaled $817 million in the fourth quarter, according to Greentech Media – or $1.4 billion, according to the Cleantech Group’s figures – fell considerably short of the prior quarter’s $1.9 billion haul. Investors simply pulled back amid a quarter marked by the lackluster conclusion to the Copenhagen climate talks and Congressional inaction on energy and carbon emission legislation.

All things considered, things could have been a lot worse given the precarious state of the economy. Bright spots this quarter like Silver Spring Network’s $100-million-plus round of financing, signaled some decidedly bullish sentiment toward the smart grid’s future — a sentiment fueled, in part, by the U.S. Department of Energy’s multi-billion-dollar outlays in stimulus funds.

Fremont, Calif.-based Solyndra, a thin-film solar maker, kept the cleantech optimism alive by filing for an IPO in the waning days of 2009 after having raised nearly $1 billion. Beyond U.S. borders, Panasonic’s massive $4.6 billion takeover of Sanyo, a Japanese powerhouse in batteries and renewable energy, proved that even established industry giants were willing to stake their futures on clean energy. On the computing front, solid-state storage firms continued to rake in VC cash in a bid to supply data centers with energy efficient, high-performance — and high priced — enterprise data storage systems.

Check out our latest report, “Cleantech Was a Market Leader in Q4” for more insights and a glimpse of what Q1 2010 has in store.

Image of SqueakyMarmot’s photostream Flickr Creative Commons.