Mercom Capital Group, llc, a global clean energy communications and consulting firm,recently released funding and merger and acquisition (M&A) activity for the Smart Grid sector during the first quarter of 2012.The lackluster venture capital (VC) investing trend in smart grid continued into this year with a weak first quarter of $62 million going into 10 deals, compared to the last quarter with $66 million in ten deals. Funding amounts and deals are staying flat after peaking in 2010.Venture capital interest in the smart grid sector coincided and peaked after the $4.3 billion made available through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 for the purpose of grid modernization and smart grid. “VC funding in the last year or so has been on a steady decline. There seems to be a disconnect in smart grid between consumer interest and awareness, and the market offerings of smart grid technologies and products,”said Raj Prabhu, Managing Partner at Mercom Capital Group.
The top VC deal in Q1 2012 was the $30 million raised by Silver Spring Networks, a smart meter networking company, followed by $13.7 million raised by Tendril, an energy management company. Other top deals included $7.7 million raised by Varentec, a start-up focused on “power routers” that can control power flows on the grid, $4.1 million raised by Vizimax, a designer and manufacturer of automation systems for grid modernization, and $4 million raised by Smart Wire Grid, a provider of smart wire technology to control power flows on transmission lines.Eight VC investors participated in Q1, all participating in one deal each including Archangel Informal Investments, BDC Venture Capital, Braemar Energy Ventures, Hitachi, Khosla Ventures, Pasadena Angels, Tech Coast Angels and Yaletown Venture Partners.
M&A activity this quarter was steady in smart grid with half a billion M&A dollars going into six transactions, of which three disclosed details.Top M&A transactions in Q1 2012 included the $382 million acquisition of RuggedCom, a provider of rugged communications equipment like routers and ethernet switches for substations, by power equipment giant Siemens, the $100 million acquisition of SmartSynch, a smart grid communication company, by smart meter company Itron, and the $49 million acquisition of demand response provider Comverge, by H.I.G.Capital, a private equity firm.Other significant M&A transactions that did not disclose details included the acquisition of Recurve, an energy audit and modeling software and retrofit company, by Tendril, an energy management technology provider, and the acquisition of Ecologic Analytics, a meter data management software company, by smart meter company Landis+Gyr.