E.ON sets up new venture-capital activities

E.ON’s increased focus on distributed and smart energy solutions includes making strategic co-investments in startup companies with innovative technologies or new business models. For this purpose the Düsseldorf-based energy company has set up new venture-capital activities and already made investments.

E.ON has become an investor in Munich-based Orcan Energy GmbH, a spin-off from Munich Technical University. Waste heat from industrial and commercial processes has substantial, largely untapped potential for enhancing the efficiency of distributed energy solutions. Orcan is the technology leader in small-scale modular Organic Rankine cycles, a technology for using waste heat to generate electricity. The modularity of Orcan’s product combined with its highly differentiated cost structure gives it the potential to dramatically alter the waste heat recovery market. E.ON sees the partnership as a significant opportunity to supplement its broad range of different-sized CHP units, to provide solutions for industrial customers, and to increase the output of its biogas-fired power plants.

Fuel cells are gaining a rapidly increasing share of the distributed generation markets in the US and Japan. Now E.ON is taking a stake in Bloom Energy, a Sunnyvale / California based provider of breakthrough solid-oxide fuel-cell technology. This technology is commercially available and is already producing power for many leading American companies reliably and efficiently.

In addition, E.ON has invested as a limited partner in the The Westly Group, an American venture capital firm that focuses on cleantech companies in areas such as e-mobility, renewable energy, smart grids, and energy efficiency for buildings. The Westly Group analyzes about 800 startup companies per year and helps entrepreneurs build companies such as Tesla Motors. The partnership will give E.ON access to a broad spectrum of cutting-edge technologies, while providing the Westly Group with key knowledge about the European market.

“With our newly established venture-capital activities we make targeted investments in companies with technologies or business models that could improve or expand E.ON’s portfolio of products and services. At the same time we’re helping our partner companies understand our market needs and get access to our infrastructure or markets. Our investments focus on business models for distributed energy, smart grids and renewables”, said Urban Keussen, Senior Vice President for Technology & Innovation at E.ON SE.
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