CalPERS backs new DFJ clean energy fund

Draper Fisher Jurvetson’s clean-energy affiliate fund, DFJ Element, has held an interim close, with backing coming from CalPERS and Swiss Re, among others.

Venture capital investors have rushed into the clean energy space in recent years. Draper Fisher Jurvetson can count itself among that crowd, as its debut clean-energy affiliate fund, DFJ Element, has now crossed the halfway point to its $225 million targeted close. The Pennsylvania-based fund, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, has received commitments from 62 investors so far and corralled a total of $114.29 million (€94.25 million) in capital.

Investors in the vehicle include the The Coca Cola Company, Swiss Re and the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), which in 2004 pledged to invest as much as $200 million in clean energy.

On its Web site, Draper Fisher Jurvetson cites that the clean energy market is expected to see substantial growth in the next ten years or so, with the annual market for clean energy expanding from $13 billion today to roughly $92 billion by the year 2013.

Venture capital groups, meanwhile, are doing what they can to fill the need. The Cleantech Venture Network, an organisation that tracks VC investment in the space, reported in December that in the third quarter of last year alone, VCs invested a total of $425 million in 69 separate clean energy deals.

While the new clean energy fund from Draper Fisher Jurvetson is just getting on its feet, the firm has actually been targeting the space for a couple years now.

Tim Newell, who works on the fund, joined DFJ in 2004, coming from Broadview Investments. Other managers in the Element fund include Advent International veteran John Rockwell, David Lin, formerly of EnterTech Capital Partners, and Michael Bevan.

Also, as part of a settlement surrounding Pacific Gas and Electric’s bankruptcy in 2004, a $30 million public benefit fund was launched to invest in clean-energy technologies. That vehicle, The California Clean Energy Fund, selected Draper Fisher Jurvetson as one of the three strategic partners to match and help guide investments in the sector.

To date, DFJ has made six investments in the clean energy space, according to its Web site, including investments in energy distribution management outfit EnerNOC, solar cell maker Konarka and electrolyte technology company Solicore.