EU Innovation Council Invests €17.5 Million in Electrochaea’s Power-to-Methane Technology

Electrochaea ́s power-to-gas technology receives funding from the European Innovation Council (EIC), confirming that their market-ready innovations make an important contribution to the goals of the European Green Deal and the UN agenda for sustainable development.
Based on biocatalysis, Electrochaea offers a multiple nationally and internationally patented key power-to-gas technology, which cost-effectively recycles CO2 and at the same time produces CO2-neutral methane from excess electrical energy that can be stored and used as required.

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In total, more than 2,000 European companies applied for the “EIC Accelerator” pilot program. Electrochaea is one of only 64 selected start-ups and medium-sized companies supported bythe Councilwith their projects. The EIC Accelerator program is part of the EU research and innovation program”Horizon2020″. It is aimed at entrepreneurs and SMEs that can apply for grants or mixed financing from grants and equity support. Since this year, around €300 million are available for submissions that promote the European Green Deal. Electrochaea fulfils this requirement in three ways: the long-term storage of renewable energy, production of biomethane, and reduction of the carbon footprint by using CO2 emitted by various industrial sources.

“We are proud to be one of the few selected funding recipients of the EIC. For us, this funding commitment is also a crucial strategic statement,” explains Dr. Doris Hafenbradl, CTO of Electrochaea. “In its rationale, the European Innovation Council confirms for the first time and in all clarity that Europe needs sustainable storage solutions for renewable energy sources and that green gas is indispensable for a sustainable, reliable and comprehensive energy supply”.

The EU funds will be used for the so-called scale-up, the development of the technology from existing pilot plants to commercially scaled plants. With the equity investment, Electrochaea will construct a fully operational 10 to 20 MW plant. The outcome is that customers will benefit: by scaling up and building a sample plant, the risk for commercial projects will be minimized and Electrochaea will be able to offer reliable and highly efficient standardized plants. “The additional financial resources will help us to apply the potential of biological methanation even faster on a commercial scale,” says Hafenbradl. “The European Innovation Council explicitly recognizes the expertise, diversity and motivation of our team as important factors in our success story in constructing industrial pilot plants and forming strategic partnerships with key players”.

Harald Beschid (COO), Doris Hafenbradl (CTO and Managing Director) and Birgit Lewandowski (Director Development) of Electrochaea are pleased about the investment of the European Innovation Council and consider it as a strong political signal. (© Electrochaea GmbH, 2020)


sonnen: Transforming the energy sector along the Triple Top Line

Transformation from battery manufacturer to energy supplier of

the future - A perfect example of the Triple Top Line approach

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sonnen is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of battery systems for the storage of photovoltaic electricity for private households. Back in 2014, MVP was among the first investors of the company based in Wildpoldsried, Germany. In 2019, sonnen was acquired by Shell, which together with sonnen aims to become the world’s leading energy service provider by 2030. For the cleantech sector in Europe, the takeover was one of the most successful venture capital exits ever.

Key factors for sonnen’s success were the ongoing willingness to transform its product, business model, and team, as well as a business strategy based on the Triple Top Line concept. This ultimately led to significant changes in the energy market. And it makes sonnen a Transformative Technology in the best sense of the word and a perfect example to illustrate our investment strategy.

 

Transformation of product and business model

The first sonnenBatteries offered customers the opportunity to store self-produced PV electricity and to use it in times without sufficient sunlight. The company’s growth in the early years was proof that the sonnenBatterie was one of the best products on the market (Improvement of the Value Chain).

From the very beginning, however, the sonnen team understood the sonnenBatterie as the platform on which further products and services could be offered. The possibility of connecting all sonnenBatteries via the Internet of Things (IoT) enabled sonnenBatterie customers to share self-produced and stored electricity, which was the starting point for the sonnenCommunity. By that, today’s centrally structured value chain from electricity production in large power plants to the consumption at the end customer is eliminated by decentralized production and storage (Enhancement of the Value Chain).

With the next expansion stage of the sonnen business model, sonnenNow, customers will be offered a complete package consisting of a photovoltaic system, a sonnenBatterie and clean electricity, without any investment costs for the customer. This means that sonnen offers a Power-as-a-Service solution instead of a hardware product. A revolutionary step, which is only known from the software sector so far, or in the first tentative steps in the mobility sector. sonnen thus transforms the entire value chain of power supply (Reconstruction of the Value Chain) and becomes the energy utility of the future.

Transformation of the team

sonnen has continuously strengthened its team and adapted it to the requirements of the company’s development from its foundation to the present day. In the first years the focus was on product development and sales. In the following years, the supply chain and production team also had to be expanded. With the introduction of the sonnen Community, the interconnection of sonnenBatteries, the establishment of an own software team was necessary. And for the last step, the establishment of sonnen as the energy utility of the future, a team of experts with many years of experience in the energy markets was set up. With the growth from the small founding team around Christoph Ostermann and Torsten Stiefenhofer to a medium-sized company with several hundred employees, the organization, including finance, HR, marketing, had to be continuously expanded.

To successfully manage this substantial transformation of the team organization in just a few years is one of the essential success factors for the rapid scaling of start-ups – sonnen has mastered this excellently.

 

Focus on Triple Top Line growth

sonnen’s slogan “clean and affordable energy for everybody” illustratively reflects that the company follows a business strategy, which considers not only economic growth but also social equity and sustainable environmentally friendly product development. From the very beginning, sonnen’s primary goal has been to make more renewable energy available to private customers, and thus make a contribution to an ecologically sustainable energy supply (Ecology). The new approach of making the sonnen solution accessible to customers without investment costs ensures social Equity. Combining these two aspects with a highly scalable business model, sonnen was also able to achieve extraordinary economic growth (Economy).

With this consistent pursuit of the Triple Top Line concept, sonnen shows that growth and economic success do not require compromises with regard to environmental benefit and social equity, but that all three aspects reinforce each other positively. It was decisive for the outstanding development of sonnen and ultimately for the takeover by Shell. (Read more about our Triple Top Line investment strategy)


Are startups in a position to transform markets?

Interview with MVP partners

Walter Grassl and Martin Kröner

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How do markets develop, when can a start-up participate in them – and how does it get there? WirtschaftsWoche kicks off a new column on investor insights with an interview with MVP Partners Martin Kröner and Walter Grassl (German only).

Click here to read the full interview


Electrochaea: start of the first scalable biomethanisation plant in the USA

SoCalGas and Electrochaea announce commissioning

of new biomethanation reactor system

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Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and Electrochaea today announced the commissioning of the nation’s first scalable biomethanation reactor system at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Energy System Integration Facility in Golden, Colo.  The technology uses renewable electricity to convert hydrogen into pipeline quality methane for use in homes, businesses and in transportation.  Over the next 24 months, the project will assess the commercial viability of this power-to-gas approach to energy storage and decarbonization and provide insights into potential mega-watt scale system designs.
The project in Colorado builds upon and advances research previously conducted by Electrochaea. The reactor system operates at a 50 to 60 percent efficiency.  For every 10 kilowatts-hour of power received by the water electrolysis model, the equivalent of 5 to 6 kilowatts-hour of methane is created by the microbes.

Click here to read more


Storengy invests in Electrochaea

Storengy pioneers power-to-gas market

with investment in Electrochaea

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Becoming a shareholder of Electrochaea GmbH, the leading provider of power-to-gas technology based on biological methanation located in Munich, Germany, STORENGY is positioning itself on an emerging market, bringing together its operator and integrator skills and an innovative technology already efficient.
Electrochaea’s existing investors (MVP, KfW, btov, Caliza, and Focus First) were excited to invest along with Storengy in this financing round.
Simultaneously with the investment, Storengy and Electrochaea are planning to roll out commercial projects in the North American and European markets. With a strong pipeline of projects, Storengy and Electrochaea want to be a leading provider of Power-to-Gas worldwide.

Click here to read the full press release


Shell acquires battery start-up sonnen

Shell agrees to acquire sonnen, expanding its offering

of residential smart energy storage and energy services

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Shell New Energy has agreed to acquire 100% of sonnen, a leader in smart energy storage systems and innovative energy services for households. This follows an investment by Shell in May 2018 and means that post regulatory approval and completion sonnen will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Shel

Click here to read the full press release