Europe is at the forefront of the energy transition with countries across the continent setting ambitious targets for the reduction of carbon emissions and the increase of renewable energy resources. Emerging technologies and renewable energy startups have an important role to play in reaching those goals.
The shift towards clean energy is not only crucial for our climate, but also to improve the resilience of the EU’s energy system. This has been made clear in a recent report written by the EU commission which highlights recent challenges such as Covid and Russian aggression against Ukraine. But it’s during times of adversity that we also tend to innovate at our best, and as such it’s an exciting time for the energy sector.
In this article, we're going to take a look at 5 renewable energy startups leading the charge in Europe's energy transition. From cutting-edge technology to ambitious projects.
How we selected our renewable energy startups
There’s thousands of renewable energy startups working on new technologies and trying to find solutions for the pressing problem of climate change. We would have loved to discuss more, but limited ourselves to a selection of 5 energy startups that we find inspirational and fitted the following criteria:
- Innovative: These renewable energy startups all bring novel solutions to move the energy transition forward.
- Inspirational and diverse: These cleantech startups all focus on very diverse solutions and have a refreshing take on renewable energy.
- Raised Funding: All energy startups in our selection have raised funding. Although some have raised significantly larger amounts than others, they all have earned the trust of some initial investors.
The renewable energy startups that made our selection
These renewable energy startups are working on different aspects of the energy transition, from the use of wind, sun and water to generate electricity, to the use of blockchain technology to improve transparency and traceability in power grids. They are all examples of how humans are innovating solutions that are addressing some of the most pressing challenges to create a sustainable future.
Enapter: Modular AEM Electrolysers
- Enapter is a green hydrogen company that’s rethinking the way electrolysers - devices that separate water into its molecular components: hydrogen and oxygen - are being produced. Rather than build large custom electrolyzers, their approach has been to create a modular standardized plug and play solution. In 2021, the company's efforts were rewarded with The Earthshot Prize and last year, they were in Fast Company’s list of “WorldMost Innovative Companies”. According to Enapter, once their automated production facilities are at full scale, they will be able to reduce the cost of hydrogen sufficiently to reach parity with gas produced from fossil fuels (gray hydrogen).
FlexiDAO: Blockchain for energy traceability
- FlexiDAO This Dutch/Spanish based startup is using blockchain technology to help consumers and producers move to a 24/7 carbon free power grid. This is made possible by certifying and tracing electricity from production to consumption, allowing for credible and verifiable claims on their carbon footprint. Such technology incentivises consumers to source their energy from sustainable sources and push for decarbonisation in their operations. FlexiDAO's technology has been used in several pilot projects, where it has demonstrated its ability to increase the transparency in green hydrogen value chains. In August, they secured a $6.5m series A from Google, Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund, SET Ventures and EIT InnoEnergy for their first-of-its-kind software platform
KitePower: Mobile kite powered wind energy
- KitePower, a TU Delft spinoff at the forefront of Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) technology, a solution allows for the harvesting of wind energy through the use of aerodynamic or aerostatic lift devices. Their patented kite technology uses up to 90% less material than conventional wind turbines and has the potential to be twice as efficient. The company is founded by Johannes Peschel and Roland Schmehl, who were both part TU Delft’s pioneering kite power research group of the former astronaut Wubbo Ockels. KitePower has been successful in raising ~€4.5m through 2 venture rounds and a crowdfunding campaign
Mocean Energy: Wave energy harvesting
- Mocean Energy Mocean Energy is a Scottish company that specializes in the development of wave energy conversion technology. Through the motion of waves, they are able to convert kinetic energy into electricity which can then be used to power homes and businesses. Mocean Energy's wave energy converter is designed to be durable, reliable, and efficient, and is able to generate power even in harsh marine environments. They have secured $5m in funding from both Scottish and UK Governments and the EU. Currently this funding is being used to prototype two of their core technologies - the Blue Star and Blue Horizon. An ambitious project that aims to become a major player in the renewable energy industry by providing a cost-effective and sustainable source of power.
Oceans Of Energy: Floating solar panels
- Oceans of Energy is a Dutch-based start-up that is revolutionizing the way we think about offshore solar energy. The company has developed a unique technology that allows for the installation and operation of solar farms in high wave environments of up to 13 meters. They are the first company to successfully install and operate an offshore solar farm system in deeper seas. Their first system, located 12 km offshore in the North Sea, has proven its durability and resilience, successfully surviving several powerful storms such as Bella, Dennis, Eunice, Franklin, Corrie, Evert, and extratropical cyclone Ciara. This innovative solution has caught the attention of early stage investors, as the company has recently been awarded €125k in development funding from the FMO (Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank) in addition to their previous seed round funding of €300k back in 2018, which is a strong indication of their potential for success in the field of offshore solar energy.
Opportunities for investors in renewable energy startups
With the current focus on the energy transition and demand for renewable energy, it’s no surprise that many investors are active in the renewable energy space. Overall, it is estimated that the renewable energy sector will reach a global market value of USD 2.000 billion in 2030.
While the opportunity is there, investors will find a lot of competition in identifying the most interesting opportunities in the renewable energy space. Therefore, they will be forced to take a proactive approach to scouting the most promising renewable energy startups in an early stage.
All in all, we know that there’s many exciting renewable energy startups to be found. Seeing the ingenuity of the solutions that companies come up with and activity in the renewable energy space makes us feel positive about the future of our energy system.