Who are the current ‘movers and shakers’ in storage investment?

BY BEN COOK AND ROBERT MALTHOUSE

Investors have been piling into the storage sector in recent weeks.

Storage deals gathered significant momentum in the last month as deal-making got into full swing following the holiday season slowdown.

The US and UK markets dominated with a number of headline-grabbing deals, with Energy Vault’s plans to go public picking up pace, while NextEnergy Solar Fund made a splash in the UK storage sector.

Elsewhere, investors have also backed plans for a US gigafactory that will specialise in the production of nickel-hydrogen batteries.

But which investors have been the movers and shakers making these deals happen?

Energy Storage Report brings you a breakdown of eight high profile deals that were reported in the last month, highlighting the major investors involved. We detail the size of the funds making the investment and the names of the key individuals running the funds and overseeing the deals in question.

DEAL 1: Energy storage company ENERGY VAULT combines with a special purpose acquisition company, NOVUS CAPITAL CORPORATION, to go public in a move valuing the company at $1.6 billion. Novus has received $100 million of commitments for a common stock PIPE [private investment in public equity].

MAJOR INVESTORS INCLUDE:

ADAGE CAPITAL PARTNERS
Assets under management: 
Massachusetts-based Adage Capital Partners is believed to have around $42 billion.
Key figures: Former Bank of America Merrill Lynch vice presidents Christopher Palmer and Matthew Moriarty.

PICKERING ENERGY PARTNERS
Assets under management: PEP has deployed over $15.5 billion in capital across all energy sectors.
Key figure: Dan Pickering, founder and CIO, Pickering Energy Partners Pickering founded PEP in 2019. He was formerly president at energy industry financial advisor Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co.

SOFTBANK INVESTMENT ADVISERS 
Assets under management: 
SoftBank Investment Advisers says it is investing $100 billion to build “market-leading” companies in a range of sectors.
Key figures: Munish Varma, managing partner, Americas at SoftBank Vision Fund Prior to joining SoftBank, Varma was head of global markets, India at Deutsche Bank. He says: “We’re not for everyone, but for the right match – founders with a big vision that’s poised to change the market – we seek to offer partnership and connections and the ability to really amplify what they are doing.”


DEAL 2: NEXTENERGY SOLAR FUND (NESF) enters into a £100 million UK joint venture partnership (JVP) with battery storage specialist EELPOWER.

MAJOR INVESTOR:

NEXTENERGY SOLAR FUND
Assets under management: 
Next Energy Capital has $2.8bn of solar assets under management.
Key figures: Michael Bonte-Friedheim, group CEO, and Ross Grier, managing director of Next Energy Capital UK Prior to founding NextEnergy Capital, Bonte-Friedheim was managing director in the European energy & power team in the European investment banking department of Goldman Sachs. Grier joined Next Energy Capital in 2013, earlier in his career he was an analyst at ExxonMobil.


DEAL 3: Californian battery developer ENERVENUE raises $100 million to build a gigafactory in the US to accelerate the production of nickel-hydrogen batteries.

MAJOR INVESTORS:

SAUDI ARAMCO ENERGY VENTURES
Assets under management: 
Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures is a $400 million investment programme which began in 2013. Each investment typically ranges from $2 million to $20 million.
Key figures: Mahdi Aladel, CEO, Aramco Ventures (the venture capital arm of Aramco – Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures is a fund operated by Aramco Ventures) Prior to joining Aramco in 2017, Aladel was manager of enterprise strategy and performance at petroleum product distributor Motiva Enterprises. Earlier in his career, he was a process engineer at Chevron.

SCHLUMBERGER NEW ENERGY 
Assets under management:
 An energy industry technology provider, Schlumberger New Energy has ventures in a range of sectors including hydrogen, lithium, energy storage, carbon capture and sequestration, geothermal power and geoenergy for heating and cooling buildings.
Key figures: Olivier Le Peuch, CEO and Ashok Belani, executive vice president Le Peuch joined Schlumberger in 1987 as an electrical engineer and spent his early career in custom software integration and development and in high-temperature electronics development for wireline equipment. Belani has been with Schlumberger for 15 years – he studied electrical engineering in India and holds a graduate degree in petroleum engineering from Stanford University. 


DEAL 4: RECURRENT ENERGY, a wholly owned subsidiary of CANADIAN SOLAR sells 80% stake in 350 MW/1400MWh Crimson storage project in Riverside County, California to AXIUM INFRASTRUCTURE

MAJOR INVESTOR:

AXIUM INFRASTRUCTURE 
Assets under management: 
Axium Infrastructure had more than $5 billion in assets under management as of June 30, 2021, as well as approximately US$1.4 billion in co-investments.
Key figure: Thierry Vandal, president of Axium Infrastructure US Inc. Vandal has over 30 years of experience in the North American energy and utilities industry. Until May 2015, he was president and chief executive officer of Hydro-Québec, an infrastructure manager. Vandal started at Hydro-Québec in 1996 and held various positions until his appointment as president and CEO of the company in 2005.


DEAL 5: GORE STREET CAPITAL ENERGY STORAGE FUND acquires a 57MW energy storage project in Leicester, UK

MAJOR INVESTOR:

GORE STREET CAPITAL ENERGY STORAGE FUND
Assets under management: 
At the end of December 2020, the fund’s net asset value was £143.3 million. The fund’s market capitalisation is £305.6 million
Key figures: Alex O’Cinneide, CEO & Founder O’Cinneide founded Gore Street Capital in 2013. Prior to that he was head of investments and general manager at Masdar Capital.


DEAL 6: D. E. SHAW RENEWABLE INVESTMENTS (DESRI) closes the acquisition of, and debt financing for, the Arroyo Solar and Storage (Arroyo) project, a 300 MWAC solar and 150 MWAC/600 MWh battery energy storage system facility being developed in McKinley County, New Mexico.

MAJOR INVESTOR:

D. E. SHAW RENEWABLE INVESTMENTS (DESRI)
Assets under management: 
D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments is a member of the D. E. Shaw group, a global investment and technology development firm with more than $55 billion in investment and committed capital as of March 1, 2021.
Key figures: David E Shaw, founder of D.E. Shaw, and David Zwillinger, chief executive officer of DESRI. Most of Shaw’s time is now devoted to his role as chief scientist of D. E. Shaw Research, LLC. Shaw was appointed to the US President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology by President Clinton in 1994, and again by President Obama in 2009. Prior to joining the D.E. Shaw group in 2005, Zwillinger was an associate at J.P. Morgan Partners, and before that a member of Merrill Lynch’s mergers and acquisitions group.


DEAL 7: Seattle-headquartered solar system performance guarantee provider OMNIDIAN secures a $33 million Series B capital raise, with part of the proceeds earmarked for investment in energy storage.

MAJOR INVESTORS INCLUDE:

ACTIVATE CAPITAL 
Assets under management: Activate Capital has invested more than $1 billion, with 30 exits through IPO and M&A.
Key figures: Raj Atluru, managing director, Activate Capital Prior to founding Activate, Atluru was a founder of energy-focussed private equity fund Silver Lake Kraftwerk. Before that, he was managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson where he founded the firm’s cleantech and India investment practices.

CITY LIGHT CAPITAL
Assets under management: Less than $100 million.
Key figures: Partners Josh Cohen, Tom Groos and Jeff Rinehart Cohen was formerly an investment banker in the technology group of Deutsche Banc Alex Brown, while Groos was formerly with fire protection system company Viking Group. Rinehart was formerly CMO at Nasdaq-listed educational technology company 2U.

CONGRUENT VENTURES
Assets under management: $300 million.
Key figures: Joshua Posamentier and Abe Yokell, co-founders and managing partners Posamentier’s previous roles have included positions with Prelude Ventures and Intel Capital. Prior to co-founding Congruent Ventures, Yokell was responsible for opening RockPort Capital’s West Coast office in 2007.

ENERGY FOUNDRY
Assets under management: Less than $100 million.
Key figures: Jason Blumberg, co-founder and managing director, and Sara Chamberlain, managing director Earlier in his career, Blumberg was employed by GVW Holdings, an industrial and transportation platform of The Carlyle Group. Meanwhile, prior to joining Energy Foundry, Chamberlain co-managed the government advisory practice for clean technology startups at law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

BLUE BEAR CAPITAL
Assets under management: Less than $100 million.
Key Figures: Partners Ernst Theodor Sack, Vaughn Blake, Carolin Funk and Robert MacInnis The Blue Bear team is described as having private equity experience with technology expertise.

IA CAPITAL
Key figures: Andrew Lerner, managing partner Prior to joining IA Capital, Lerner served as an investment banker in the financial institutions group of Smith Barney Inc.

EVERGY VENTURES
Key figures: Dennis Odell, vice president and head of Evergy Ventures 
Odell’s previous roles have included strategic planning and risk management director at Kansas City Power & Light.


DEAL 8: FORESIGHT GROUP acquires a 50MW Blackpark battery storage project from ILI GROUP in Scotland.

MAJOR INVESTOR:

FORESIGHT GROUP
Assets under management: 
£7.2 billion.
Key figures: Bernard Fairman, executive chairman and co-founder Fairman co-founded Foresight Group in 1984. Prior to that he was an investment manager at 3i Ventures.


Image (clockwise from top left): Vaughn Blake (Blue Bear Capital), Dan Pickering (Pickering Energy Partners), Alex O’Cinneide (Gore Street Capital Energy Storage Fund), Ross Grier (Next Energy Capital UK), Carolin Funk (Blue Bear Capital), Joshua Posamentier (Congruent Ventures), Sara Chamberlain (Energy Foundry), Munish Varma (SoftBank Vision Fund).

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