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Solar: It’s baaacck

Happy days are here again—or, if we’re talking about solar energy, we might as well say sunny skies. That’s what venture capitalist Nancy Pfund, founder and managing partner of DBL Partners (that stands for Double Bottom Line) thinks, after many years in the industry. Her $400 million fund, which closed in June, is now among the biggest social impact funds. “We are here to stay,” she said at Fortune’s Brainstorm E conference on Monday.

That’s not to say that all solar investments are a good idea—anyone remember Solyndra? But, according to Pfund, the downturn in the space has finally come to an end. “There’s really a renaissance as more and better teams come in,” she said. “Americans heart solar, and the timing is right now to push through and make new investments.”

Pfund is so optimistic, in part, because of her experiences with Dan Shugar, the founder and CEO of NEXTracker, who joined her on stage. Pfund has invested in three of Shugar’s startups—the latest of which, NEXTracker, builds devices that automatically turn solar panels to face the sun and, says Shugar, lets solar plants increase their power generation by 25 to 35%.

Earlier this month, NEXTracker was acquired by Flex, the technology contract manufacturer formerly known as Flextronics, for $300 million—making a nice return for Pfund. Shugar will continue as CEO, for now—but don’t be surprised to see him pushing the clean tech envelope again somewhere soon. “I’ve consistently underestimated the growth of solar,” he says. If the two of them are right, so has everyone.

Click here for more coverage of Fortune’s Brainstorm E conference.

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