Leading this week’s Smart Energy Finances is investment into CarbonScape, which will bring biographite – a wood chips-based alternative to graphite, sourced from forest waste – to Europe.
Also on the radar is a subsidiary launch from RTE International (RTEi) in the US, focusing on HVDC projects, and an equity buy-in from the Dutch government into grid operator Stedin.
New Zealand-based battery material developer CarbonScape has announced an $18 million investment, signalling the company’s plans to commercialise its biographite production in Europe and the US, enabling cleaner lithium-ion batteries for EVs and grid-scale energy storage.
According to the company, graphite is up to 50% of the weight of a lithium-ion battery, yet expected global demand far outstrips supply, with a forecast deficit of 777,000 tonnes per annum by 2030.
Graphite production is also one of the largest CO2 emitters in the battery raw materials supply chain and represents a significant proportion of the cost of a battery.
Adding to the problem, today’s battery supply chains are long and complicated, with petroleum-based and mined materials crossing the globe from its source, through processing to battery assembly, to reach end consumers.
Biographite, produced from forestry and timber industry by-products – i.e. wood chips from forestry waste – is touted by CarbonScape as a sustainable alternative for battery supply chains, which are currently dependent on petroleum-based or mined graphite.
Produced locally, the company adds how it will provide security of supply for European and US-based battery manufacturers in the face of increasing supply chain instability, while also on-shoring production of a critical material to meet rapidly growing demand.
With the investment led by Stora Enso alongside ATL and other partners, CarbonScape, the first-to-market producer of biographite, could thus provide a much-needed alternative for EV and grid-scale battery supply chains.
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RTEi has launched RTE international Inc. in the US, which will focus on HVDC projects.
Making use of RTEi’s success in European projects, RTE international Inc. will provide expertise in design assessment, offshore grid interconnections, and comprehensive EMT (electromagnetic transients studies) while developing bespoke solutions for the American market and creating new local partnerships.
According to Markus VOR DEM BERGE, director of Power Electronics and Studies at RTE international, “Creating our US subsidiary is a momentous milestone in RTE international’s journey.
“This step allows us to actively collaborate with US stakeholders and drive the innovation of HVDC technology forward. Our European expertise, coupled with our new subsidiary’s strategic presence, positions us to foster remarkable progress in the realm of HVDC projects.”
RTE international is a consultancy and engineering company whose activities cover all areas of electricity transmission.
A subsidiary of RTE, Europe’s largest transmission system operator, RTE international offers tailored solutions to participants in the electricity sector, relating to the development, operation and maintenance of their networks. This includes studies of electrical systems, engineering and supervision of network infrastructure works, optimisation and digitalisation of network maintenance, as well as support for IT tools related to the electricity network.
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The Dutch government has become a new shareholder in grid operator Stedin.
With the agreement, the government will strengthen Stedin’s equity by €500 million ($531 million) and will take an 11.9% shareholding. Stedin says the capital will be used to continue to invest in the expansion and reinforcement of the electricity grid.
With electricity demand set to double by 2030, to connect homes, ensure that businesses can switch to sustainable electricity and install more charging points and solar and wind farms, Stedin is investing heavily in the expansion of the electricity grid, forecasting at least €8 billion ($8.5 billion) by 2030.
Commented Maarten Struijvenberg, chairman of the Shareholders’ Committee and alderman responsible for finance in Rotterdam: “It is great news that we as shareholders have reached an agreement with the Central government. The government becoming a shareholder is an important step..
“As shareholders, we have already contributed €451 million ($479 million). With the additional capital from the government, Stedin can continue with its planned investments to reinforce and expand the grid for sectors such as residential construction.”
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Steding currently has 42 shareholders, predominantly municipalities in the province of Zuid Holland.
The transaction and addition of the government into the shareholder ranks is subject to approval by the Dutch States General and current shareholders of Stedin; If approved, “Stedin will have a high level of certainty when it comes to its capital requirements,” stated the grid operator in a release.
The provinces of Utrecht and Zeeland have recently stated that they are also interested in becoming shareholders and Stedin remains in discussion with each.
Said Danny Benima, CFO of Stedin: “Now that the Central government is becoming a shareholder, their equity contribution also has a positive effect on our credit rating. Altogether will this also result in an additional borrowing capacity of approximately €1.7 billion ($1.8 billion).”
The investment into CarbonScape comes at a very interesting time within Europe’s supply chain dilemma: China has been propping itself up as the dominant supplier of these critical materials. Do you think these types of alternatives might help prop Europe up for a competitive come-back? Let me know.
And for the latest in finance and investment announcements coming from the energy sector, make sure to follow Smart Energy Finances.
Yusuf Latief
Content Producer
Smart Energy International
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