M&A Move

Repsol to acquire Houston-based renewable energy platform

Repsol announced that it's buying ConnectGen from Quantum Capital Group, a Houston-based private equity firm that focuses on energy investments. Photo via Getty Images

Spanish energy giant Repsol is breaking into the U.S. market for onshore wind power with its $768 million deal to purchase Houston-based renewable energy startup ConnectGen.

Repsol is buying ConnectGen from Quantum Capital Group, a Houston-based private equity firm that focuses on energy investments, according to a September 8 news release. Quantum’s renewable energy arm, 547 Energy, owns ConnectGen.

ConnectGen, founded in 2018, operates 278 megawatts of solar energy projects in Arizona, California, and Nevada. Its nationwide development pipeline features more than 20,000 megawatts of wind power, solar power, and energy storage projects.

“All of us at Quantum and 547 Energy are looking forward to watching Repsol convert these development projects into operating assets that will help power the American economy with clean renewable electricity over the next decade,” says Wil VanLoh, founder, chairman, and CEO of Quantum.

Quantum and its affiliates have managed more than $22 billion in equity investments since the firm was founded in 1998.

Once the deal tentatively closes by the end of 2023, current ConnectGen employees, including senior executives, are expected to join Repsol’s renewable energy team. Caton Fenz has been CEO of ConnectGen since 2019. He previously was the startup’s chief development officer.

“The addition of ConnectGen accelerates our commitment to renewable generation in one of the markets with the greatest potential for future growth. In that sense, bringing on board its valuable team of experts is key to [ensuring] our successful future growth with robust profitability in the market,” says Josu Jon Imaz, CEO of Repsol.

Repsol has targeted 20,000 megawatts of installed global capacity for renewable energy by 2030. The company owns 245 megawatts of renewable energy assets in the U.S. and 2,000 megawatts worldwide.

ConnectGen’s capabilities build on Repsol’s 2021 purchase of a 40 percent stake in Chicago-based Hecate Energy, which develops solar power generation and energy storage projects.

Repsol aims to operate 2,000 megawatts of installed renewable energy capacity in the U.S. by 2025 and more than 8,000 megawatts by 2030. Aside from the U.S., Repsol owns renewable energy assets in Chile, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.

In the U.S., Repsol, ConnectGen, and other companies are capitalizing on tax credits contained in the federal Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 that are designed to spark development of clean energy projects. The law earmarks nearly $400 billion in federal funding for clean energy initiatives.

A new study funded by the BlueGreen Alliance, a group backed by labor unions and environmental organizations, indicates the law could add more than 1.5 million jobs in the solar and wind power sectors by 2035. Tens of thousands of these jobs will undoubtedly be created in Texas.

The White House estimates the Inflation Reduction Act will spur $66.5 billion in Texas investments in large-scale clean power generation and storage projects between now and 2030.

“Strengthening our energy security advances two goals: It lowers costs for all Americans by ensuring a resilient and affordable supply of clean energy, and it fosters American innovation in difficult-to-decarbonize sectors,” Lily Batchelder, assistant secretary for tax policy at the U.S. Treasury Department, said in a recent update about the law.

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

A Rice University professor studied the Earth's carbon cycle in the Rio Madre de Dios to shed light on current climate conditions. Photo courtesy of Mark Torres/Rice University

Carbon cycles through Earth, its inhabitants, and its atmosphere on a regular basis, but not much research has been done on that process and qualifying it — until now.

In a recent study of a river system extending from the Peruvian Andes to the Amazon floodplains, Rice University’s Mark Torres and collaborators from five institutions proved that that high rates of carbon breakdown persist from mountaintop to floodplain.

“The purpose of this research was to quantify the rate at which Earth naturally releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and find out whether this process varies across different geographic locations,” Torres says in a news release.

Torres published his findings in a study published in PNAS, explaining how they used rhenium — a silvery-gray, heavy transition metal — as a proxy for carbon. The research into the Earth’s natural, pre-anthropogenic carbon cycle stands to benefit humanity by providing valuable insight to current climate challenges.

“This research used a newly-developed technique pioneered by Robert Hilton and Mathieu Dellinger that relies on a trace element — rhenium — that’s incorporated in fossil organic matter,” Torres says. “As plankton die and sink to the bottom of the ocean, that dead carbon becomes chemically reactive in a way that adds rhenium to it.”

The research was done in the Rio Madre de Dios basin and supported by funding from a European Research Council Starting Grant, the European Union COFUND/Durham Junior Research Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation.

“I’m very excited about this tool,” Torres said. “Rice students have deployed this same method in our lab here, so now we can make this kind of measurement and apply it at other sites. In fact, as part of current research funded by the National Science Foundation, we are applying this technique in Southern California to learn how tectonics and climate influence the breakdown of fossil carbon.”

Torres also received a three-year grant from the Department of Energy to study soil for carbon storage earlier this year.

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