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Investors see opportunity in new energy and are hunting for the smart plays

I spent 20 years in the old energy world of oil and gas. (I know – mea culpa. On the plus side I so far have 10 years in new energy, so only another 10 years to go before I am in credit...). During the first 20 years of my career, I experienced first-hand the critical role of banks and financial investors to fund projects or invest in infrastructure. It’s hard to think of two worlds – oil and finance – that are more closely intertwined.  

However, over the last 10 years, it’s been apparent to me that investor interest in the new energy world is largely absent. Yes, there are clean tech investors, and some of these have even made decent returns, but the sector generally has not prospered. Indeed, for many people, it has a negative reputation.   

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Is investment an indicator of future success?

The German football team is out of the World Cup. Was it what you expected? Unlikely. Had you predicted this would happen based on the players selected, Joachim Löw’s ability to coach, or the huge investments made to secure a top-tier national squad? Probably not.

As we published the ‘New Energy’ Business Model Service’s latest report, this got me thinking about who is investing in what within ‘New Energy’ and if how much you invest in something is really an indication of future success?

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Who wouldn’t want a Mercedes in their home?

A couple of weeks ago Mercedes-Benz announced to invest €500 million into a new battery manufacturing facility in Germany, which is part of a wider strategy to invest €1 billion into battery production globally. This was followed by the announcement last week to also expand into the U.S. energy storage market.

The scale of the investment – compared to €5 billion R&D expenditure for the entire Daimler Group in 2015 – is an incredibly strong statement for the group’s electric vehicle and energy storage strategic plans.

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