Global energy firms swoop on startups in billion dollar technology race

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Europe’s biggest energy companies have ploughed more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) into startups, according to Reuters calculations, with several deals announced in the past month as they accelerate a quest for new technologies to outpace rivals.

Taking a leaf out of Silicon Valley’s playbook, companies such as Germany’s Innogy, France’s EDF and Dutch Eneco, as well as oil majors like Total, have set up their own venture capital funds to scour the globe for potentially disruptive technologies.

The race is being driven by the fast-changing nature of an industry that has seen traditional energy providers scrambling to keep up with renewable power and seeking any edge over competitors in an increasingly fierce and fragmented market.

Investment targets by such venture capital funds range from startups developing batteries to store solar power in massive amounts to those creating systems to better manage the use of household appliances like washing machines and thermostats.