Verdane partners with Climate Tech leader Cleanwatts
Invests up to € 25 million to scale business in international markets for Energy Communities.
Verdane, the European specialist growth equity investor, through its impact fund Idun, has invested in Cleanwatts, an energy software company on a mission to accelerate global energy decarbonization and alleviate energy poverty. The company, which grew year-on-year revenues by 65% in 2021 and expects 2022 revenue growth of more than 200%, offers innovative energy management solutions that help local communities unlock the benefits of optimized renewable energy consumption, generation, storage, trading, and balancing. The partnership, in which Verdane is set to invest up to EUR25m, will draw on Verdane’s deep expertise in scaling SaaS companies, international network and in-house team of operating specialists.
Cleanwatts is a Portuguese energy management software company that deploys renewable energy communities (RECs) in countries with advanced legal frameworks and policies that enable the activation of local energy markets. The company operates in Portugal (HQ), Italy, Spain, and the United States, with plans to expand further into Europe and Asia. REC members can include residents, commercial and industrial businesses, municipal buildings, schools, hospitals, and universities that collectively contribute to the clean energy transition while advancing energy efficiency, lowering electricity bills, and creating jobs within the local economy. By supporting citizen and commercial participation through internet of things enabled energy load management, energy communities can also help provide flexibility and local grid resiliency through demand-response and storage.
Cleanwatts is in the process of building more than 80 energy communities, several of which are already operational. Currently, the company manages and controls two terawatt hours of energy – or the equivalent of over 500,000 households’ annual consumption – and runs over 15MW in aggregated rooftop solar PV capacity through Cleanwatts™ OS, its modular operating system designed to manage energy communities. Cleanwatts REC members can lower their average energy costs by up to 60%.
In keeping with the company’s goal of removing friction and complexity from the launch of RECs, Cleanwatts complements its digital offering with zero upfront investment requirements for the adoption of distributed energy resources, including PV solar capacity, energy storage systems, EV charging infrastructure and electrification of heating and cooling for the built environment.
Cleanwatts plans to allocate Verdane’s investment primarily to accelerate and expand its commercial presence in target markets, and to further develop Cleanwatts™ OS to anticipate evolving needs in local energy markets. Together with Verdane, the company will also assess M&A possibilities if and where accretive to the Cleanwatts value proposition. To meet growing market demand for its services, the company expects to grow headcount by 50% over next 6-12 months, adding 40+ resources to its current team of 70 located in Europe and the US.
Verdane’s investment coupled with Cleanwatts’ unique and innovative capabilities, will enable Cleanwatts to tackle the world’s energy poverty problem, which is defined as the “lack of access to sustainable modern energy services and products,” by the World Economic Forum. Energy poverty affected between 50 and 125 million people across Europe in 2020 - a figure that has increased dramatically in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and record-high inflation.
Founded in Coimbra, Cleanwatts emerges from a country increasingly recognized for its vibrant tech startup environment. Over the past few years Portugal has spawned seven unicorns and is quickly climbing the ranks as an attractive destination to launch global tech companies. Earlier this year Cleanwatts expanded its international presence by opening a branch in Italy and an operating entity in the US.
Professor João Gabriel Silva, Chairman of the Board of IPN (Instituto Pedro Nunes) an award-winning innovation hub promoted by the University of Coimbra, commented: “It is terrific that Cleanwatts, an idea born within the IPN ecosystem, has closed the largest Series A investment ever heard of in Portugal. Cleanwatts directly addresses the urgent need to transition to renewable energy, freeing society from its dependence on fossil fuels and fighting energy poverty. Verdane Capital will provide a huge contribution to expanding Cleanwatts worldwide and helping the company realize its enormous potential. Congratulations!”
Michael Pinto, CEO and Co-Founder of Cleanwatts, commented: “Mitigating the rising cost of energy and supply constraints, while responding to an increasing demand for electricity and meeting decarbonization targets is an enormous global challenge. Fortunately, digitally enabled renewable energy communities now represent both an effective and efficient solution to address these problems. A wide range of viable technologies and regulatory frameworks are finally in place for our society to reframe its relationship with energy and pave the way for a cleaner, fairer, and more sustainable future. We are proud to partner with Verdane to address the rapid paradigm shift towards a more efficient and resilient decentralized energy network.”
Bjarne Kveim Lie, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Verdane, said: “Our team is impressed by Cleanwatts’ potential to provide a global solution to a local problem that is causing tens of millions of households in the US and the UK to forego food and medicine to pay energy bills or to go without electricity at all for parts of the year. We look forward to deploying our extensive experience scaling SaaS businesses and harnessing our in-house team of operating experts to power Cleanwatts through this critical scaling phase of its growth journey.”
Verdane Idun is classified as “Article 9” under the European Union’s Finance Disclosure Regulation and closed in January 2022 at its hard cap of € 300 million, over its target fund size of € 225 million. Idun makes investments focused on driving impact in three clusters: energy transition; sustainable consumption; and resilient communities. Previous investments include Auntie, a digital provider of workplace wellbeing services; in Spond, a digital enabler of grassroot sports and physical health; and EVA Global, a managed services provider supporting the global shift to electric vehicles. To date, Verdane has invested in over 30 sustainable society businesses.
Cleanwatts is a clean tech company resolutely focused on simplifying, amplifying, and accelerating the energy transition for local communities around the world. We generate value through Cleanwatts™ OS, our modular, highly interoperable, and localizable platform designed to address energy related needs in local energy market settings. We operate behind the meter and in front of the meter, seamlessly connecting the dots between energy generation, storage, consumption, trading and balancing at every level of an energy community. We also combine our digital offering with zero upfront investment solutions to remove friction from the incorporation of distributed energy resources that drive the energy transition, including PV solar capacity, energy storage systems, EV charging infrastructure and electrification of heating and cooling for the built environment. We are building a world in which clean energy is decentralized, digitalized, and democratized.
More info: www.cleanwatts.energy
Follow Cleanwatts on LinkedIn
Verdane is a specialist growth equity investment firm that partners with tech-enabled and sustainable European businesses to help them reach the next stage of international growth. Verdane can invest as a minority or majority investor, either in single companies or through portfolios of companies, and looks to deploy behind three core themes: the Digital Consumer, Software Everywhere and Sustainable Society. Verdane funds hold over €4 billion in total commitments and have made over 140 investments in fast-growing businesses since 2003. Verdane’s team of over 100 investment professionals and operating experts, based out of Berlin, Copenhagen, Helsinki, London, Oslo, and Stockholm, is dedicated to being the preferred growth partner to tech-enabled and sustainable businesses in Europe.
More info: www.verdane.com Follow Verdane on LinkedIn
 Assuming an average consumption of 2.5 and 5MWh per year  https://ec.europa.eu/energy/eu-buildings-factsheets-topics-tree/energy-poverty_en