There is no shortage of ancient myths revolving around what causes a solar eclipse. The ancient Greeks, for instance, saw it as a sign that the gods were angry and dire misfortunes were coming. The Mayans viewed it as a sure warning of civilization’s impending destruction. The ancient Chinese thought dragons were eating the sun, like a plot twist straight out of “Game of Thrones.”
Myths aside, in the lead-up to Monday’s solar eclipse, we thought it would be fun to look at private equity and venture capital investor activity in the solar energy sector. After all, 1,900 solar plants in the US will be offline or working at less than full capacity at some point during the day, according to CBS. More than a few of them have some form of PE or VC backing.
Here's a breakdown of the most active PE and VC investors in US-based solar energy companies since 2010.
Venture capital & solar energy
On the venture capital side, investors have participated in more than 300 deals, worth a combined $5.2 billion in the US solar energy space, but the future for VC and solar energy doesn't look too bright. Investor participation has taken a nosedive since 2011, when VCs participated in 64 deals worth a combined $1.5 billion, per the PitchBook Platform. This year is well on pace to see venture investors complete a record low number of deals. So far in 2017, just 11 VC deals for solar energy companies have closed, with solar lighting and power products provider d.light's $30 million round holding the title for largest financing.
Here's a breakdown of the nine most active VC investors in US-based solar energy since the beginning of 2010, along with deal count (excluding accelerator rounds):
Private equity & solar energy
The US solar energy sector hasn't exactly been a hotbed for private equity activity this decade, as PE investors have completed just 121 deals in the space since the start of 2010. Recent years have marked a high point, with firms completing 21 deals each of the past two years and 20 in 2014. But PE investors have displayed a significant decrease in interest in the space in 2017, finalizing just three deals so far.
Not all those targets are thriving, either. The year's biggest US solar transaction came in April, when Solar Spectrum—a portfolio company of Northern Pacific Group, Hercules Capital and DGB Investments—conducted a $50 million add-on of Sungevity, a bankrupt solar electricity company that made headlines earlier in the year when it couldn't pay its workers.
Which firms have been busiest in the space? Here are the top nine PE investors in the US solar energy industry since the start of 2010:
Article by Adam Lewis, Kate Clark - PitchBook