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

Prabhdeep Singh Sekhon, who previously held roles at companies such as NextEra Energy Resources and Hess, was named CEO of Gold H2. Photo courtesy of Golf H2

Cleantech startup Gold H2, a spinout of Houston-based energy biotech company Cemvita, has named oil and gas industry veteran Prabhdeep Singh Sekhon as its CEO.

Sekhon previously held roles at companies such as NextEra Energy Resources and Hess. Most recently, he was a leader on NextEra’s strategy and business development team.

Gold H2 uses microbes to convert oil and gas in old, uneconomical wells into clean hydrogen. The approach to generating clean hydrogen is part of a multibillion-dollar market.

Gold H2 spun out of Cemvita last year with Moji Karimi, co-founder of Cemvita, leading the transition. Gold H2 spun out after successfully piloting its microbial hydrogen technology, producing hydrogen below 80 cents per kilogram.

The Gold H2 venture had been a business unit within Cemvita.

“I was drawn to Gold H2 because of its innovative mission to support the U.S. economy in this historical energy transition,” Sekhon says in a news release. “Over the last few years, my team [at NextEra] was heavily focused on the commercialization of clean hydrogen. When I came across Gold H2, it was clear that it was superior to each of its counterparts in both cost and [carbon intensity].”

Gold H2 explains that oil and gas companies have wrestled for decades with what to do with exhausted oil fields. With Gold H2’s first-of-its-kind biotechnology, these companies can find productive uses for oil wells by producing clean hydrogen at a low cost, the startup says.

“There is so much opportunity ahead of Gold H2 as the first company to use microbes in the subsurface to create a clean energy source,” Sekhon says. “Driving this dynamic industry change to empower clean hydrogen fuel production will be extremely rewarding.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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