Clean energy technology was thought to be uninvestable. One fund thinks otherwise

Source: Pippa Stevens, CNBC, Nov 23, 2019

Venture capital funding for clean energy technology companies has declined after years of lackluster performance drove investors to other sectors. But a new fund is making a big bet that it’s possible to back clean tech companies at the earliest — and often riskiest — stages, all without sacrificing returns.

In October, Clean Energy Ventures announced that it raised $110 million for its first fund, which will target “the current capital gap for seed and early-stage investment in promising advanced energy innovations,” a press release said.

The firm’s strategy rests on the belief that without reinventing the wheel, and without compromising returns, it can identify and fund scalable, capital-efficient start-ups that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

With this influx of capital the fund’s three principles, who between them have backed more than 30 early-stage clean tech companies over their combined 40-plus years of investing, are looking to back companies in areas like energy storage, grid connectivity and clean transportation.

“There’s a valley of death right now. There’s a lot of brilliant technology that’s being built … but to get to a Series A or Series B it’s a long haul,” Clean Energy Ventures co-founder Temple Fennell said to CNBC. “Some people consider us a special forces team that’s brought in with capital and talent.”

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