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Today in Cleantech

What a good year 2010 turned out to be for big green energy, after all. Global clean energy investment reached a record high of $243 billion in 2010, crushing 2009’s $186.5 billion and 2008’s $180.1 billion, according to a Tuesday report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Leading the surge were smaller, distributed solar projects in Europe, up 91 percent from 2009 to $59.6 billion, as well as a 30-percent boost in Chinese clean power investment to reach $51.1 billion. Where 2010 didn’t reach greentech records were in venture capital and public markets — last year’s VC haul of $8.8 billion beat 2009 but failed to top 2008’s record $11.8 billion, while public market investment rose to a post-recession high of $17.4 billion, but failed to match 2007’s record of $24.6 billion. Taken in whole, the report appears to support the contention that small-scale, venture-backed firms will have an increasingly difficult time competing with established clean energy players in 2011. While Cleantech Group’s report last week set 2010’s VC haul as the second-highest on record, it also showed that fourth-quarter greentech VC investment was down from the third and second quarters. What 2011 will hold for challengers to the emerging status quo is yet to be seen — I’m curious to hear your thoughts.