Venture-capital funding for the solar-power industry fell 81 percent to $72 million in the third quarter, the lowest since 2008, according to a report by Mercom Capital Group LLC.
This was the first sub-$100 million quarter in five years, the Austin, Texas-based clean-energy consulting firm said Monday in a statement.
Falling solar panel prices aren’t good for the companies that make them, the upstream manufacturers, said Raj Prabhu, managing partner at Mercom, while low prices have been “really good for those downstream” that buy them, like SolarCity Inc., which on Friday filed plans to raise more than $200 million in an initial public offering.
Companies that install solar systems raised about $1 billion in leasing funds in the quarter, mainly from banks, said Prabhu. “Downstream is doing much better than technology companies because they don’t require as much capital.”
Acquisitions of solar manufacturers MiaSole Inc. and Q- Cells SE in the quarter raised much less than venture backers had hoped, according to Prabhu.
“When you look at it, they were fire sales or distress sales,” he said. “If these are the types of exits, then it’s pretty tough out there.”
The largest venture-capital transaction was concentrating photovoltaic-systems maker SolFocus Inc.’s $15 million funding, according to the report. Only one venture capital company, New Enterprise Associates, was involved in more than one deal, according to the report.
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