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- Venture capital and private equity investors flooded clean energy with $10.5 billion in 2019, according to a new report by BloombergNEF. It’s the largest annual investment since 2010.
- Business Insider highlighted the 10 most active venture capital and private equity investors, based on the number of deals that closed in 2019, using data from BloombergNEF.
- The list shows that oil and gas giants are among the most active private investors, alongside the Bill Gates-led investor coalition, Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
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Private investment in clean energy is continuing to climb, with venture capital and private equity funding in the sector reaching $10.5 billion in 2019, according to a new report by the research firm BloombergNEF (BNEF).
That’s the largest annual investment in clean energy since 2010 and more than two times higher than the decade low of $4.1 billion in 2013.
“We’re seeing a resurgence in the last two years,” Tom Blum, a member of Clean Energy Venture Group, told Business Insider late last year. “Renewables, which had been plodding along steadily, are taking a huge upturn.”
Data from PitchBook show a similar trend: VCs flooded the clean-tech industry with nearly $10 billion in 2019, which is the second-highest investment sum in a decade.
The largest clean-energy investors of 2019 include well-known giants like T. Rowe Price, Amazon, and BlackRock. They were all involved in a $1.3 billion PE deal with the electric vehicle (EV) company Rivian Automotive in December.
None of the top 20 clean-energy investors, by capital, were involved in more than two deals, according to BNEF. Business Insider looked, instead, at VC and PE investors that were most active, based on the number of deals they financed or co-financed that closed in 2019.
Here are the most active clean energy VC and PE investors, ranked from fewest to most deals in 2019.
Note: “Clean energy” refers to “renewable energy excluding large hydro-electric projects, but including equity-raising by companies in smart grid, digital energy, energy storage, and electric vehicles,” per a BNEF spokesperson.
IP Group — 3 deals
Investment: $22.6 million in 2019, according to BNEF
IP Group is a London-based VC firm that invests in a wide range of startups — many of which have spun out of universities — to develop intellectual-property-based companies. Clean-tech startups make up a small portion of its portfolio of more than 50 companies.
“We back teams and technologies with the potential to put a dent in climate change,” the company says on its website.
Among the companies in its portfolio is fusion energy startup First Light Fusion; carbon capture startup C-capture; and “smart” hot-water tank company, Mixergy.
Equinor — 3 deals
Investment: $29.7 million in 2019, according to BNEF
Formerly known as Statoil, Norway-based Equinor is among the oil giants to recently veer towards clean energy.
In April 2019, the firm agreed to align its strategy with the Paris climate agreement. It’s also trying to take a leading role in the US renewable industry, after announcing plans to build an 816-megawatt offshore wind farm in New York to supply energy to New York City.
Through its $200 million corporate venture arm, Equinor Energy Ventures, Equinor has invested in a suite of new-energy startups including the solar-cell technology company Oxford PV; EV-infrastructure company ChargePoint; and Mainspring (formerly known as Etagen), which manufactures a linear generator.
BP — 3 deals
Investment: $50.5 million in 2019, according to BNEF
BP has been a relatively large player in the renewable industry, owning half of Europe’s largest solar developer, Lightsource BP. The company is also among a trove of recent oil giants that have agreed to link bonuses for thousands of its employees to targets under the Paris Climate Agreement.
Through its $500 million corporate venture arm, BP has invested in companies including cement-tech startup Solidia Technologies and Fulcrum BioEnergy, a billion-dollar company that turns waste into fuel.
Total — 4 deals
Investment: $10.7 million in 2019, according to BNEF
Total is the seventh-largest oil and gas company in the world and considered a leader in renewable energy among the giants. In October 2019, the company announced that it would dedicate its $400 million venture fund to ushering in a low-carbon economy.
Total’s corporate venture arm, Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures, has 31 startups in its portfolio including Solidia Technologies; the smart-thermometer maker Tado; and SparkMeter, a startup that makes smart meter technology.
Total also contributes to the Demeter Partners fund, listed below, and Powerhouse, a prominent innovation and venture firm focused on clean tech and mobility.
Demeter Partners — 4 deals
Investment: $15.6 million in 2019, according to BNEF
Founded in 2005, Demeter is a Paris-based investment firm with over $1 billion in assets, according to PitchBook, dedicated to the “energy and ecological transition.”
Demeter invests in mostly European startups that are working on everything from green hydrogen, in the case of Ergosup, to floating wind turbines, per the firm’s investment in the company Ideol.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures — 4 deals
Investment: $17.8 million in 2019, according to BNEF
Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) is a $1 billion fund led by an impressive coalition of investors including Bill Gates, Virgin’s Richard Branson, and Michael Bloomberg, making it the largest venture capital fund ever closed in renewable energy, according to the research firm Preqin.
BEV has 21 companies in its portfolio including some of the buzziest early-stage energy startups, such as fusion energy company Commonwealth Fusion Systems; cement-tech startup CarbonCure; QuantumScape, a secretive battery company; and Sierra Energy, which is trying to commercialize waste-to-fuel technology.
Mitsui — 4 deals
Investment: $34.2 million in 2019, according to BNEF
Based in Japan, Mitsui is one of the world’s largest trading and investment companies with a portfolio that spans energy and resources, healthcare, machinery, and infrastructure.
Mitsui Global Investment, the venture arm of Mitsui, has $300 million in assets, according to PitchBook. It has funded clean-energy startups including carbon-capture company LanzaTech and e-bus maker Proterra.
Macquarie — 6 deals
Investment: $27 million in 2019, according to BNEF
Macquarie is a global finance firm with $380 billion in assets under management, as of September 2019. Largely through its new clean-energy investment arm, Green Investment Group (GIG), the firm has committed or arranged more than $25 billion for green energy infrastructure.
Macquarie invests heavily in large-scale infrastructure projects like wind energy; for example, it now supports nearly half of Britain’s offshore wind capacity “in operation or construction,” according to a company progress report,
But Macquarie has also backed a handful of clean-energy startups including Form Energy, a secretive energy-storage company, and Sunfolding, a startup that developed a technology to track and monitor solar power.
Energy Impact Partners — 6 deals
Investment: $53 million in 2019, according to BNEF
Energy Impact Partners (EIP) is one of the largest alternative-energy investment firms, with $1.2 billion under management.
According to the market research form Preqin, it closed the fourth largest venture capital fund in renewable energy in 2017, amounting to $531 million. Unlike many other firms, EIP is a utility-led fund, with backing from National Grid, Southern Company, Xcel Energy, and other large utilities.
Royal Dutch Shell — 9 deals
Investment: $19.7 million in 2019, according to BNEF
According to BloombergNEF, Royal Dutch Shell was the most active clean energy investor in 2019, closing nine deals. The European company is considered a leader in renewables among energy giants, with plans to invest $6 billion in green energy projects between 2016 and the end of 2020. Earlier this year, the Guardian reported that the company is “at risk of falling short” on those plans.
The company’s venture arm, Shell Ventures, has invested in more than a dozen clean-energy startups including the smart sensor company Sense, digital-energy platform developer Innowatts, and solar heat company GlassPoint Solar.