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How apathy killed VantagePoint's cleantech fund

Posting in Energy

VantagePoint Capital Partners is one of the largest venture capital backers of cleantech. But now, even this believer in cleantech has been forced to back off.

VantagePoint has been an aggressive player in the cleantech world, backing nearly three dozen startups, including thin-film solar maker MiaSole, biotechnology firm Solazyme and Tesla Motors. As of January 2012, the company led by CEO Alan Salzman (pictured) had committed more than $1 billion to cleantech.

The VC firm has stopped raising a new cleantech fund due a lack of interest from limited partners, reported the WSJ's VentureWire blog. The company launched the fund in 2010 planning to raise $1.25 billion. The fund was going to make growth-stage investments in batteries, solar manufacturing, electric vehicles, efficient lighting, electric grid efficiency and other technologies, reported VentureWire.

Limited partners, the major investors and big-time pensions that invest in VC funds, are a fund's bread and butter. Without them, it's difficult to raise the required capital necessary for a multi-billion fund.

VantagePoint's failure to garner enough interest is one of many signs of waning interest among investors in cleantech.

Investment in clean energy in much of the Western world fell in 2012, thanks largely to regulatory uncertainty and steep curbs in subsidies, according to a year-end report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Overall global clean energy investment fell 11 percent in 2012 to $268.7 billion from a record reached the previous year.

— By on February 6, 2013, 4:20 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure