Solar-panels.jpgVenture capital investment shrank in 2008 for the first time in five years, going from $30.8 billion in 2007 to $28.3 billion in 2008, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

Through the first three quarters of 2008, VC investments were about even with 2007, but in the fourth quarter the bottom fell out. In Q4'08, $5.4 billion was invested, a 33% drop from Q4'07, and 22% fewer deals were made.

Of the companies that did get funding, alternative energy led the way -- in particular, solar. Nanosolar, a San Jose solar company, took the top spot for 2008 with $299 million in financing.

Of the ten biggest investments made last year, seven were energy companies and the top four were solar companies. Overall, clean tech investment jumped 50% for 2008.