GLOBAL - Clean technology venture investment worldwide has soared by 65% in the first half of 2010 compared with the same period last year.

According to preliminary results by the Cleantech Group, in collaboration with financial service provider Deloitte, cleantech venture investments came to more than $2bn (€1.6bn) across 140 companies in North America, Europe, China and India in the second quarter.

The number is roughly equivalent to that reported in the first quarter - $2.04bn, up 43% from the same period a year ago.

Richard Youngman, head of global research at the Cleantech Group, said: "In spite of the persistence of wider concerns about the strength and sustainability of the global recovery, the strong flow of investment dollars to cleantech growth companies has continued in the second quarter, with cleantech venture investment in the first half edging slightly ahead of the record total recorded during the first half of 2008.

"Key to this has been the resurgence of solar and a high volume of follow-on rounds, including many blockbuster deals, which are, in part, a response to the lacklustre and unpredictable state of the cleantech IPO market."

However, while fundraising in the cleantech sector has improved compared with 2009, the current climate is still difficult, according to Andrew Musters, global head of private equity at Robeco and SAM.

"The environment is either very good or very bad for funds, with nothing in the middle," Musters told IPE.

Robeco and SAM now have more than $1bn invested in cleantech and have expanded their private equity team from five to eight members, with their latest fund witnessing a move toward secondary investments.

The first $200m closing of the third-generation Clean Tech Private Equity fund was made up entirely of UK and Dutch pension funds, but Musters said he expected more German and Nordic institutions to follow.

Robeco has also started fundraising in Asia.

Musters added: "We have a bullish outlook for the future and expect a high growth rate by actively investing in private equity.

"However, private equity has to reinvent itself - it needs to get its act together and focus on integrating environmental, social and governance aspects, creating value and outperforming other markets, which is impossible if it continues to focus only on financial engineering."