Summary:

One of the few investors to make money from backing cleantech startups, The Westly Group has finally closed on a $160 million cleantech fund.

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Not all venture capitalists are fleeing the cleantech sector. On Tuesday The Westly Group — the fund managed by former California controller Steve Westly — announced that it’s closed on a $160 million fund that it will invest into cleantech companies. The firm raised funds from investors like Citi, E.ON and SK Group.

The firm’s previous fund was for $127 million, and the Westly Group has been working on raising this current fund for awhile (since mid 2011). Originally the fund was targeted at $175 million. The Westly Group is a little different from other investment firms in that it says its principals have invested more than $50 million of their own money into the company’s funds over the years.

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The firm has been one of the more successful cleantech investors out there. Three of The Westly Group’s portfolio companies have gone public on the NASDAQ, including electric car company Tesla, biofuel company Amyris, and Chinese recycling company China Recycling Energy Corporation (CREG). The firm says on its website that “at the end of 2010, we had returned nearly all of invested capital to our limited partners.”

Not all of the Westly Group’s startups have done well, of course. Solar company Amonix has been struggling. Waste-to-fuel startup Enerkem withdrew its IPO plans last year.

With this fund, The Westly Group joins the elite club of venture firms that will continue to make new cleantech investments, including Khosla Ventures, Lux Capital and Braemar Energy Ventures.

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