Global venture-capital investment in clean technologies rose 43 percent last year to a record $3 billion, overwhelmingly in the U.S., according to an annual...

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Global venture-capital investment in clean technologies rose 43 percent last year to a record $3 billion, overwhelmingly in the U.S., according to an annual survey of the industry.

Some $2.5 billion in venture funds was invested in U.S. clean-tech startups, an amount similar to that raised by the retail industry and 79 percent more than the previous year, according to data released Friday by Dow Jones VentureSource.

Washington came in third among states, after California and Massachusetts, with investments of $175 million — more than China received.

The boom rides on the back of high energy prices, rising awareness of global warming and legislation favorable to environmentally friendly businesses, said Jessica Canning, director of global research for Dow Jones VentureSource. Renewable energy also means big bucks.

“The energy industry is so massive that any slice of it can produce substantial returns to the investor,” she said in a statement.

U.S. investors put the most money into solar ventures, which got about $694 million, or nearly a third of total investment, greatly outpacing biofuels and wind energy.

Venture capitalists no doubt noticed that publicly traded solar companies had stellar stock performances during 2007, led by Phoenix-based First Solar’s nearly eightfold increase.

Transportation companies came in second, raising some $311 million. Biofuels were third, with $264 million. Wind-energy startups collected a paltry $33 million.

The biggest U.S. deal was the $200 million raised by Project Better Place, a Palo Alto, Calif., startup that seeks to build infrastructure for electric cars.

Washington state had its own blockbuster financing round: Biodiesel maker Imperium Renewables saw a $117 million equity infusion.

The Seattle company, however, ended the year on a low note amid roiling equity markets, with the exit of its CEO, Martin Tobias, and the cancellation of its initial public offering.

Other local deals include $22 million for Targeted Growth, a Seattle agricultural biotechnology firm that seeks to increase yields in energy crops; and $4.75 million for Propel Biofuels, a Seattle biodiesel retailer.

Seattle-based Powerit Holdings, which provides energy-efficiency solutions to industry, raised $7 million, and Kennewick-based energy-tech firm Infinia raised nearly $10 million.

Clean-tech investors are likely to continue making Washington a destination for their money, said Dow Jones VentureSource research manager Valerie Foo.

“It’s going to boil down to which regions have the best resources, most intelligent entrepreneurs, executive teams and technologists,” she said. “Washington has that.”

Ángel González: 206-515-5644 or agonzalez@seattletimes.com