ZE Energy raises €4 Million and launches the first hybrid solar plant solution featuring energy storage capabilities
An independent renewable energy producer, ZE Energy, brings a revolution in the renewable energy sector by launching a hybrid solar plant solution that combines photovoltaics and storage and meets the needs of Continental Europe. The company’s innovative business model, growth prospects and the experience of its management team have already attracted investors as DEMETER, High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), EverWatt and Ze Way Invest. The start-up has just raised €4 M in funding to ramp up its development in France.
The Promises of enhanced Solar Energy
Providing communities, companies and real estate groups with a clean source of energy, available round the clock, at an extremely attractive rate, that is the ambition of ZE Energy. Achieving this by developing, funding, building and running new-generation solar power plants.
Their feature lies in their ability to combine solar power generation with storage solutions. This makes ZE Energy the first independent operator in Continental Europe to offer solar power, available day or night, at a price that is competitive with that of ‘conventional’ electricity.
ZE Energy is headed by Mathieu Lassagne who was a former Deputy Managing Director at Solairedirect and a pioneer in photovoltaics in France. All in all, ZE Energy was built upon the expertise of seasoned professionals and entrepreneurs from the energy sector: Louis Poulain, ex Alstom/GE, Hubert Gentou, ex Gazprom and Eramet, and Eric Roujolle, ex Nippon Koei. This cross-disciplinary, highly experienced team devised a promising business model that attracted French and German investors. For this first round of seed capital, the company raised €4 M which will enable it to shift into high gear.
Even though solar power is the most profitable renewable energy source available today, a major challenge remains: its volatility. This makes it difficult to integrate it to the grid and to bring value to the generated electricity.
To accelerate the development of photovoltaics at scale and allow it to hold a significant share of the energy mix, the company needed to find a way to make this energy available precisely when human activities so require.
Equipped with a battery that stores the solar energy generated throughout the day, ZE Energy’s power plants boast all the advantages of solar power in terms of production costs, integration to the environment and power grid, as well as the generation of zero CO2 emissions!
In the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, the government’s ambitions with respect to renewables are stronger than ever. Action must be taken quickly to decarbonize the planet, and renewable energy sources are on the front line of this fight. Our business offers us a fantastic opportunity to innovate and be part of the solution, while meeting the new economic challenges facing industries, communities and large companies in general. In the renewables market, the photovoltaic sector is the most promising. With our power plants that meet consumer needs and minimize requirements for the power grid, we are paving the way for a new era and lifting the barriers associated with this inexhaustible resource.
Mathieu Lassagne, CEO, ZE Energy
Development prospect increasing tenfold
The funds raised will support Ze Energy’s growth strategy, which is focusing on three areas:
- Organic development, through the acquisition of property where the startup will build and run its hybrid solar power plants,
- development through acquisitions, targeting among other things those projects that require grid connection,
- strategic partnerships with a Storage–as-a-Service (SaaS) offering that includes the installation, funding and running of the storage solution.
As an example, in partnership with Groupe Sorégies, an integrated energy company, and with the support of the Nouvelle Aquitaine (Southwest) region, ZE Energy is installing a storage battery of 2.5MW/2.3MWh at the plant of Saint-Sauveur (11MWc), run by Sorégies since 2018. It will be operational in September 2020.
The company’s pipeline includes projects in the Loir-et-Cher (Center), Languedoc (Southwest) and PACA (Southeast) regions. Today, ZE Energy holds a project portfolio accounting for more than 170 MW in photovoltaic solar power and over 65 MW in battery.
By 2025, the startup has the objective to reach, through its deployment in four countries, a farm of solar plants representing a total power of more than 700 MW, and a running battery power of over 350 MWh, for a turnover of about €45 M.
About ZE Energy
Ze Energy has developed an innovative business model coupled with a comprehensive optimization system for large-scale storage facilities. Renewable power plants are combined with storage facilities as a fully integrated Independent Power Producer (IPP). In contrast to stand-alone large-scale storage projects, the fully integrated hybrid approach offers guaranteed revenues with up to 70% reduced acquisition and connection costs, which are further optimized by Ze Energy’s proprietary software system. This addresses the current hurdle for continued expansion of solar and wind power plants across Europe, namely their volatility, and makes renewable energy prices competitive around the clock.
Demeter is a major European player in private equity for the energy and ecological transition. Its funds invest from €1m to €30m to support companies in the sector at all stages of their development: innovative start-ups, fast-growing SMEs and ETIs and infrastructure projects. The Demeter team has 37 people based in Paris, Lyon, Grenoble, Metz, Madrid, Munich and Münster and manages €1 billion. The team has made 180 investments in 14 years. The Demeter 6 Seed Fund, investor in Ze Energy, is dedicated to seed financing of innovative technology companies. This €46 million fund was raised with the support of the Fonds National d’Amorçage (FNA) managed by Bpifrance Investissement within the framework of the Programme d’Investissement d’Avenir.
A subsidiary of Evergreen, EverWatt is an investment firm that holds stakes in companies that have expertise in transition and energy efficiency. These fall under two strategic axes: first, lower consumption by improving factory processes, which covers anything from insulating professional and residential buildings to developing energy storage solutions. Second, cleaner energy production, mainly photovoltaic, combined with the use of batteries to improve the overall process. The companies EverWatt holds investments in operate at all stages, from design to installation, making it possible to have control over the whole chain. EverWatt also owns a company specializing in the design and operation of high-performance flywheels for storage and frequency regelation purposes.
About ZE WAY INVEST
Ze Way Invest a French company created by some of the former co-founders of Solairedirect. The firm invests in projects focusing on the acceleration of energy transition, like the generation of dispatchable renewable energy, and e-mobility (ZEWAY).
About High-Tech Gründerfonds
High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) is a seed investor that finances high-potential, tech-driven start-ups. With around EUR 900 million in total investment volume across three funds and an international network of partners, HTGF has already helped forge almost 600 start-ups since 2005. Driven by their expertise, entrepreneurial spirit and passion, its team of experienced investment managers and startup experts help guide the development of young companies. HTGF’s focus is on high-tech start-ups in the fields of digital business models, industrial technology, life sciences, chemistry and related business areas. To date, external investors have injected over EUR 2.5 billion into the HTGF portfolio via more than 1,600 follow-on financing rounds. HTGF has also successfully sold interests in more than 100 companies.
Investors in the public-private partnership include the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, KfW Capital, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and 32 companies. Our Fund Investors