Danish wind energy giant Vestas Wind Systems has a new venture investment program that will focus on early stage starts ups in long duration energy storage and grid flexibility products; along with “Power to X” technologies for electrifying and decarbonising heavy transport and industry.
“With Vestas Ventures, we aim to engage with start-up companies to accelerate the deployment of sustainable energy and find partners with a shared purpose and strategic fit that support Vestas’ role in the energy transition,” said Bo Svoldgaard, Senior Vice President and Head of Innovation and Concepts at Vestas.
Vestas Ventures is now identifying its initial potential investments and will look to leverage its experience from previous partnerships to guide future investment decisions.
As the world’s leading global wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas will be able to bring with it not just significant capital but also an important legacy within the larger sustainable energy industry, and buoy early-stage start-ups with its backing.
The potential impact of backing by Vestas can best be demonstrated by Swedish battery manufacturing start-up Northvolt, which received a €10 million injection of cash back in late-2017. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength, and is set to open its first large-scale battery factory, the 4GWh Northvolt Ett gigafactory, the first phase of a facility with the potential to be scaled to 40 GWh.
Speaking separately to GTM, Bo Svoldgaard pointed to the successful Northvolt partnership as the trigger for the company’s activity with start-ups in other sectors. The focus is on lending Vestas’ 40 years of experience to businesses in sectors that society cannot wait 40 years to scale, he said.
“We learned from the experience with Northvolt, and piggybacking on that we want to exploit these new ideas and find ways to help the green transition and pursue new technologies. We need to look at the surrounding ecosystem,” said Svoldgaard in an interview with GTM.
Worth noting is that Vestas is not using their new Vestas Ventures business as a means of making acquisitions. Rather, as Svoldgaard explained to GTM, “We just want to see the best companies and the best ideas come to the surface and then take it from there.
“The fund will not take a majority stake in any of these start-ups. Companies like Northvolt have shown that they should be able to drive their own business,” he said. “[The aim] is to ensure that bright new ideas in the energy transition can be matured and that we can help them to mature.”
Investments will reportedly vary in the range of €1 million to €6 million, “depending on the position we want to take and the valuation of the company,” explained Svoldgaard.