At least one venture firm is still standing strong behind energy technology. Ten-year-old Braemar Energy Ventures announced on Wednesday that it has closed its latest third fund, of $300 million, to invest in energy technologies.
Braemar starting raising this fund last year, which I reported on via an SEC filing back then. Braemar has had a few successful exits, including lithium ion battery company A123 Systems, which went public back in 2009, algae fuel company Solazyme, which went public in 2011, and EnerNOC, the demand response player that was one of the first next-gen energy companies to go public.
Other companies that Braemar has backed include nuclear fusion company General Fusion, ultracapacitor maker Ioxus, solar company Stion, and virtual power plant company Viridity Energy. Braemar’s managers say collectively they’ve invested in over 60 companies in energy tech and have delivered more than 20 exits.
A spokesperson for the firm says it focuses on energy technologies, which are “not to be confused with cleantech.” Somewhere along the way cleantech became a dirty word for venture firms and limited partners. Braemar thinks its focus is a value add and a spokesperson says: “LP’s are seeking to invest in specialist funds given the volatility of the market.”
Braemar is unusual in the VC community. A significant portion of the general venture capital firms that got into cleantech investing a few years ago have now pulled back after not having much success. Investors like Kleiner Perkins, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Index Ventures have pulled back on investing in cleantech. That trend has led many to wonder how the next-generation of early-stage cleantech startups will be able to do research, grow and scale.
Limited partners in Braemar’s fund include: MassMutual, Alpinvest Partners, Morgan Stanley Alternative Investments, Macquarie, GIC Special Investments (the Government of Singapore), Munich Re, HarbourVest, the State of Rhode Island, RIT (Rothschild Investment Trust), Invesco on behalf of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), and utility AEP (American Electric Power).