M&A Moves

French company to acquire Houston-based battery storage startup in $1B deal

Broad Reach Power's battery storage assets piqued a French company's interest. Photo via broadreachpower.com

A French utility company is buying the bulk of Houston-based Broad Reach Power’s battery energy storage business in a deal carrying an equity value of more than $1 billion.

Engie, has agreed to purchase the majority of the startup’s battery storage business from EnCap Energy Transition Fund I and three investment partners — New York City-based Yorktown Partners, Switzerland-based Mercuria Energy, and New York City-based Apollo Infrastructure Funds.

“This acquisition is fully in line with Engie’s strategy: It will contribute to the development of a low-carbon, affordable, and resilient energy system where flexible assets will play a critical role alongside renewables,” says Catherine MacGregor, the utility’s CEO.

Broad Reach launched in 2019 with backing from EnCap Energy Transition, an arm of Houston-based private equity firm EnCap Investments. Apollo Global Management, an asset manager that controls Apollo Infrastructure Funds, bought a 50 percent stake in Broad Reach in 2021.

The deal includes 350 megawatts of grid-scale battery assets that already are operating and 880 megawatts of assets under construction, primarily in the territory served by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). It also includes a 1.7-gigawatt pipeline of battery storage projects that are in the advanced stage of development and a significant pipeline of early-stage projects.

In July, Broad Reach said it had lined up $435 million in credit facilities to support the 880 megawatts’ worth of systems under construction in Texas and California.

The Broad Reach acquisition does not include the company’s 1.8-gigawatt portfolio of solar and wind power projects, or its four gigawatt-hours’ worth of battery storage in the Mountain West.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed, but the Bloomberg news service reports the deal will cause Engie to “take a $1.6 billion hit” to it net debt.

Shawn Cumberland, managing partner of EnCap and chairman of Broad Reach, calls Broad Reach “the top battery storage player in the U.S. market.” And Corinne Still, an infrastructure partner at Apollo, refers to Broad Reach as “the leading and most innovative” battery energy storage operator in North America.

“It has been a terrific honor and pleasure to be part of the rapid growth of the U.S. energy storage sector from the very beginning and see our company grow into one of the top developers,” says Doug Moorehead, founder and COO of Broad Reach.

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

A University of Houston team looked into what areas in Houston had the highest impact on emissions and how certain meteorological factors play into ozone formation. Photo via UH.edu

A team of researchers at the University of Houston are using machine learning to help guide pollution fighting strategies.

As reported in the journal Environmental Pollution last month, the team used the SHAP algorithm of machine learning (a game theory approach) and the Positive Matrix Factorization to pinpoint what areas in Houston had the highest impact on emissions and how certain meteorological factors play into ozone formation.

The paper was authored by Delaney Nelson, a doctoral student at the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences of UH, and Yunsoo Choi, corresponding author and professor of atmospheric chemistry, AI deep learning, air quality modeling and satellite remote sensing.

The team's research closely tracked nitrogen-based compound and volatile organic compound measurements from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's monitoring stations in the Houston area. After importing measurements from The Lynchburg Ferry station in Houston's ship channel and the urban Milby Park station, the machine learning and SHAP analysis showed a chemically definitive difference between the two areas.

For example, at the industrial station, the most impactful sources of pollution were from oil and gas flaring/production. At the urban site n_decane and industrial emissions/evaporation had the most impact on ozone.

According to Nelson and Choi, this shows that the machine learning and SHAP analysis approach can be used to tailor more precise air quality management strategies in different areas based on the site's unique characteristics.

“Once we know the specific emission sources and factors, we can develop targeted strategies to reduce emissions, which will in turn reduce ozone in the air and make it healthier for everyone," Choi said in a statement.

“Pollution is a critical issue in Houston, where you have extreme high heat and high concentration of ozone in the summers. The types of insights we got are very useful information for the local community to develop effective policies. That’s why we put our time, effort and technological expertise into this project," he continued.

Next the team envisions applying their approach in different cities and across the country.

“Austin, San Antonio and Dallas all have different characteristics, so I expect (volatile organic compound) sources will also be different,” Choi said. “Identifying VOC sources in different cities is very important because each city should have its own unique pollution fighting strategy.”

This summer, the City of Houston released an updated report on its major strategies to combat climate change and build a more resilient future for its residents.

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