Aster Capital leads EUR 7.5 million financing round in SOLARFUEL, the leader in-electricity-to-gas conversion systems
Aster Capital, the European venture capital firm sponsored by Alstom, Solvay Rhodia and Schneider Electric, announced today a EUR 4 million investment in SolarFuel GmbH, the world-leader in carbon-neutral electricity-to-synthetic-gas conversion systems. This investment is part of a EUR 7.5 million financing round which includesVentrex Automotive GmbH (Austria) along with private investors. SolarFuel will use the proceeds of this financing round to accelerate the development of its proprietary electrolysis and gasification technologies as well as to step up market development in Germany and elsewhere.
The underlying rationale for SolarFuels unique process for converting electricity to hydrogen or methane is to connect the electric network to the significant existing storage capacity inherent in the natural gas network. For future energy systems with large shares of electricity generated by renewables, low cost bulk energy storage will be the key enabler. Most other storage technologies – including pumped-hydro have storage capacity of only a few hours and address intra-day peaks. SolarFuels technology enables balancing electricity supply and demand over several days to months and to transfer renewable energy which might otherwise be curtailed – to other uses such as for heating and mobility.
Alexander Schlaepfer, Partner at Aster Capital states: We have been looking for some time at what technologies are required to optimize the large amounts of electricity generated by renewables and we recognized that SolarFuel not only presents a very viable solution to store energy but actually to arbitrage renewable energy between different uses. This is already a very compelling technology in the short-term with increasing oil and biofuel prices. Furthermore, the SolarFuel team has managed to establish itself as a leader in this newly emerging market by developing simple, low-cost and robust systems which it already pilots with blue-chip customers such as AUDI.
Christian Planegger, CEO of Ventrex Automotive, adds: We look forward to working together with this very knowledgeable and dynamic management team in order to take this company to the next level and to capitalize on the already noticeably growing use of clean natural gas for mobility.
Gregor Waldstein and Dr. Karl Maria Grünauer, Managing Directors of SolarFuel, on this transaction: We are proud, that our breakthrough concept and technology not only attracts the brightest people but also high quality investors. We are excited to welcome ASTER and VENTREX as new shareholders and partners and look forward to extend our technological lead in the field of power to gas.
Alexander Schlaepfer and Christian Planegger will join SolarFuels board.
SolarFuel (www.solar-fuel.net) was founded in 2009 by a team of experienced entrepreneurs. The company is headquartered in Stuttgart/Germany where it develops technology in close collaboration with the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW). At Werlte in Northern Germany, SolarFuel is currently constructing the worlds largest electricity-to-synthetic-methane conversion plant, a 6.3MW full-scale pilot for its launch customer AUDI AG. The plant due to start operation in the third quarter of 2013 utilizes wind-power as well asCO2 from a biogas-plant to produce an entirely carbon-neutral fuel for long-distance mobility. This pilot is a key element in AUDIs Balanced Mobility concept(www.audi-future-lab-mobility.de).
About Ventrex Automotive
VENTREX Automotive (www.ventrex.com) develops and manufactures valve technology and compressors for automotive applications. Founded more than 50 years ago, the company is today a key supplier to the global automotive industry. VENTREX is the market leader for electronic pressure regulators for CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles, supplying parts for key platforms including VW MQB-A (including the Audi A3 TCNG), VW A-Entry, VW NSF, as well the Daimler Band E-Class, benefit for instance from VENTREX’s advanced electronic pressure regulators for CNG vehicles.