Google has taken such an enthusiastic role in investing and promoting clean energy that the search engine giant was the second most active cleantech venture investor during the third quarter, according to a report from the Cleantech Group. That’s in terms of number of deals; Google invested in five startups for the period: lithium-ion battery startup Actacell, geothermal company AltaRock Energy, electric vehicle makers Aptera Motors, high-altitude wind developer Makani Power, and geothermal company Potter Drilling. Google had more deals than well-known cleantech investors Kleiner Perkins and Khosla Ventures for the quarter (for the rest of the third-quarter numbers, look here.)
Still, we’re pretty sure Google is nowhere near the top when it comes to the actual dollar amounts spent on cleantech investing. Google only invested $2.75 million into its green vehicle startups, $10.25 million into its two geothermal technologies, and $5 million for the latest round into Makani (plus a previous $10 million in 2006). That’s not much compared to some of the rounds raised last quarter, like the $200 million raised by solar startup SoloPower.
Even though we applaud Google’s efforts, these investments are generally outside of the company’s expertise. We’re still waiting for it to make a bigger push into managing energy data. Given Google has built its business on organizing the world’s information, we’re thinking it would have a lot to offer in terms of networking and communication technology to make energy data more useful. We know Google and GE have that smart grid partnership, but we haven’t seen much yet.
More on Google’s green plans: