Contributions to the energy transition from the eCAPITAL portfolioeCAPITAL NEWS
The topic has been on the agenda for eCAPITAL for many years, not just since the start of the cleantech fund. eCAPITAL considers all involved areas: energy generation, transport and distribution as well as storage. In addition, the reduction in energy consumption is an indicator that all companies must take to heart when developing new products, be it for business or end customers. eCAPITAL sees a steady, recently growing deal flow of relevant projects, especially new storage technologies.
The flagship of electricity storage systems in eCAPITAL’s portfolio, sonnen GmbH with its intelligent storage systems, was successfully sold to Shell in early 2019. The specialty of sonnen was above all in the integration of individual photovoltaic islands into a self-sufficient energy community, which enables a decentralized solution for the comprehensive power supply based on renewable energies.
When it comes to power generation, technologies from the eCAPITAL portfolio primarily rely on photovoltaics, more specifically organic photovoltaics, for which Heliatek GmbH is currently building an industrial production facility with a capacity of around 1 million m2 in Dresden to cover the global market for Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV), e.g. to address building facades.
After other electricity generation technologies such as hydropower, geothermal energy, fuel cells or wind power have been receding from the portfolio, high-temperature superconductors (second generation) from THEVA Dünnschichttechnik GmbH in Ismaning close to Munich are currently playing a relevant role in sustainable power generation. With EcoSwing, the world first superconducting wind power generator, the company and others in Thyboron (DK) were able to prove at the beginning of 2019 that high energy efficiency can be achieved with little assembly space and weight.
The superconductors also allow the construction of high-performance magnets, as required by large basic research facilities such as CERN or institutes of the Helmholtz Society. With its superconductors, THEVA measured magnetic fields of almost 30 Tesla for the first time in summer 2020. Such magnets are currently playing an important role, especially for companies that are privately financed with hundreds of millions of euros to develop fusion reactors with which they want to feed fusion energy into the power grid by the end of the decade. This assumes that the capacity of HTS tape conductor manufacturers such as THEVA is multiplied – the possible annual production of all currently six manufacturers of HTS tape conductors together would not yet be sufficient for a fusion reactor. The planned expansion of capacities will benefit high-magnetic field applications in medicine and – with falling costs – also the production of electrical drives for ships and even aircraft. Finally, superconducting magnetic storage systems are expected to make a contribution to efficient electricity storage in the future.
Of central importance for the company development of THEVA, however, is above all the power supply and distribution at the hot spots of consumption, the (highly industrialized) cities and mega-cities. With SuperLink, a commercial HTS cable project tailored to this requirement is now being implemented for the first time.
SuperLink is the world’s longest and most powerful superconducting cable and can therefore be seen as a unique lighthouse project.
Michael Mayer, Managing Partner, eCAPITAL AG
Superlink is a joint project funded by the BMWi between Stadtwerke München (SWM) and THEVA, the cable manufacturer NKT and Linde AG as well as academic partners for the development and construction of a 12 km long HTS cable route that provides high-voltage electricity between a main substation and an urban load center transported. For the managing director of SWM Infrastruktur, Dr.-Ing. Jörg Ochs, this step in the future viability of the Munich energy network is not only an economical alternative, but should also contribute to achieving the CO2 savings targets in the network area with the sustainable minimization of transmission losses.
eCAPITAL congratulates Dr. Werner Prusseit and his team on having made this perspective possible by stubbornly sticking to the potential of high-temperature superconductivity, and having implemented it industrially a third of a century after the fundamental discovery of the superconductivity effect in ceramic material.
In the area of electricity transport and distribution, Envelio GmbH from Cologne solves another central challenge in today’s energy networks. Envelio’s Intelligent Grid Platform (IGP) is a software assistance system with which network planning and network operation management processes at distribution network operators can be digitized and automated, which often enables the integration of more photovoltaics, wind power and charging infrastructure for electric cars.
In addition to saving CO2 in the generation and transport of electricity, reducing the CO2 surplus will be an important focus of efforts in the energy transition in the future. The eCAPITAL portfolio also makes contributions to this, for example with sustainable grass paper from Creapaper, innovative recycling technologies from Saperatec or food products made from locally grown sweet lupines from Prolupin.
Further information is available at ecapital.vc/portfolio.
eCAPITAL is a venture capital firm that provides early to growth stage funding to technology companies in the fields of software & information technology, cybersecurity, industry 4.0, new materials and cleantech. Founded in 1999, eCAPITAL has a history of supporting entrepreneurs determined to build companies with lasting significance. Partnering with eCAPITAL means joining an international network of business leaders, entrepreneurs, technologists and potential partners. eCAPITAL is located in Germany, currently manages funds with over EUR 220 million under management and was lead investor of some very successful German exits like sonnen or Novaled.