Sustainable Finance Roundup: Lots of Funding for Electric Vehicles, Charging Infra & EV Fleets

Lots of funding for electric vehicles, charging infra & EV fleets

Starting in 2019, Volvo Trucks will begin testing an all-electric truck with two California-based fleets. The company plans to be selling an electric truck by 2020.

Volvo invested in FreeWire Technologies’ $15 million Series A funding round earlier this month, which was led by BP Ventures. FreeWire intends to use the funds for the commercialization of its ultra-fast EV charging and mobile on-site power technologies.

Volvo Trucks is also working with EV charging system developer Greenlots to deploy charging infrastructure for electric trucks in Southern California. It’s said to be the first heavy-duty fleet-charging project coming out of a public-private partnership with the California Air Resources Board, which provided $45 million to the project.

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In other major funding news, ChargePoint raised $240 million in a Series H venture funding round last month from corporates Daimler, Siemens, BMW and Chevron, as well as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, alongside other investors, to accelerate deployment of their EV charging stations.

Meanwhile, FedEx says it will add 1,000 Chanje electric delivery vans to its fleet of vehicles to save fuel and cut down on pollution. The company will buy 100 Chanje V8100 vans from the Los-Angeles based startup and lease the remaining from Ryder System.

Nissan pushes V2G Technology to connect EVs to the electrical grid.

In October, Nissan’s Leaf became the first electric car to secure regulatory approval to trial its V2G system in Germany, which allows the car to provide power from its battery back to the grid during times of peak demand.

In November, Nissan unveiled new V2G pilot projects in the U.S., and is launching “Nissan Energy” to commercialize this technology with partner Fermata Energy, a vehicle-to-grid systems company.  Nissan says the goal is for owners of its EV cars to “easily connect their cars with energy systems to charge their batteries, power homes and businesses or feed energy back to power grids.” The company is working to have its V2G services reduce the costs of running EV fleets, which it thinks will spark demand for the Leaf from corporate fleet buyers.

And Bosch created a new unit this month to focus on allowing vehicles to communicate with moving parts of the traffic system around them, specifically focusing on cities, called V2X. Bosch is working with Silicon Valley-based startup Veniam, which develops WiFi networks for the Internet of Moving Things and has raised funding from Cisco, Verizon, Orange and Yamaha.

According to Bosch, the software maintains continuous and seamless vehicle connectivity, ensuring cars can, for example, reliably alert one another to accidents.

Utilities and governments set major new renewable energy goals  

Xcel Energy has pledged it will provide 100% carbon-free electricity to its customers by 2050. By 2030, the Minneapolis-based says it will reduce carbon emissions by 80% from 2005 levels in the eight states it serves. Xcel becomes the first major US utility to target 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050 and reflects that a growing number of utilities are recognizing the deteriorating economics of coal plants.

In June, Xcel’s Public Service Company of Colorado said that it will retire will retire 660 megawatts of coal in Colorado, replacing it with more than 1,800 MW of wind and solar through a $2.5 billion investment in renewable energy and battery storage.

In other utility news, National Grid announced in November that it is launching a $250 million corporate venture fund, based in Silicon Valley, to invest in growth-stage clean technology startups in sectors such as artificial intelligence, smart assets, enterprise SaaS, security and blockchain. The first companies to receive funding through the vehicle are AutoGrid, ClimaCell, Leap, Omnidian and Sitetracker.

The provincial government of Ontario plans to cut carbon gas emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. To do so, it has set reduction targets for industries and is encouraging private investments in clean technologies.

The government of Alberta, a province in Western Canada, is promising up to $70 million toward new clean technology projects in biotechnology, electricity and sustainable transportation. In particular airline WestJet eyeing the new program to potentially help fund a biojet fuel facility in the province.

German solar PV-plus-storage system developer Sonnen has won approval to join the so-called balancing market in Germany, in which companies compete in auctions to either deliver power or take it into storage to keep the system balanced. Sonnen intends to supply 100 MW from its home energy storage network.

In May, the company raised $71 million, led by Shell Ventures, to expand internationally. Shell Ventures is a unit of Royal Dutch Shell that has been boosting its investments in renewables and electric vehicles this year.

Shell makes history with new climate targets

On December 3rd, Royal Dutch Shell said that it will establish short-term carbon emissions targets starting in 2020 after coming under pressure from investors. In an industry first, it plans to link executive pay to hitting the targets.  It announced the plans in a joint statement developed with the Climate Action 100+, an initiative led by institutional investors with more than $32 trillion in assets under management, that focuses on engaging with major greenhouse gas emitters to drive the clean energy transition. The group includes CalPERS, the largest public pension fund in the U.S.

Major shareholders including the Church of England and Robeco have demanded that Shell do more to tackle emissions. They say its earlier goal of cutting carbon emissions by half by 2050 did not go far enough.

In September, Shell announced that it has launched the “Shell GameChanger Accelerator,” in partnership with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which is intended to discover and advance emerging clean energy technologies.

Shell is also heavily betting on electric vehicles, and acquired NewMotion, a major EV charging provider in Europe, in 2017. It also reached an agreement with Ionity to offer charge points at 80 highway gas stations across Europe.


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