Seattle startup LevelTen Energy has raised $35 million in a Series C round led by NGP Energy Capital,with participation from Google and others. The company facilitates the purchase of renewable energy and helps support the creation of solar and wind energy farms. Total funding to date is $62.3 million.
News of the funding comes as Congress is negotiating legislation that could help the country reach President Biden’s goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 2035. The effort requires a massive shift to renewables. And it sets the stage for a very different market than when LevelTen CEO and founder Bryce Smith launched the business in 2016.
Smith was trying to get his clean energy startup off the ground as the newly elected Trump administration was pushing coal and other fossil fuel energy and pulling out of the Paris Agreement. Despite that backdrop, Smith was able to raise millions of dollars in funding.
It turned out that the market was being driven by corporate and utility leadership much more than by political leaders and legislation.
“The advantages of that are that we’re really not subject to political whims,” he said. “These are voluntary efforts that continue to build.”
LevelTen is supporting renewables through three avenues. It operates a marketplace that allows corporations, utilities, universities and others to sign power purchase agreements with renewable sources such as wind and solar. It runs a second marketplace that helps energy developers and financiers who want to buy, sell or invest directly in the physical infrastructure of wind and solar energy farms. And it enables organizations with energy deals to track their renewable energy deals and their carbon footprint impacts.
LevelTen reports that it has facilitated more than $5 billion in renewable energy transactions, including power purchase agreements. And the sector is booming.
On Tuesday, the American Clean Energy Association released new figures tracking the sector’s growth. The U.S. added 9,915 MW of clean energy capacity in the first half of the year, a 17% increase over the same period last year.
That brings total capacity in the U.S. to 180,216 MW, which is enough to power more than 50 million homes, more than double the capacity in the U.S. five years ago. The association reports that there are more than 900 additional projects under construction or in advanced development.
LevelTen operates in the United States, Canada and 19 European countries. It has 54 employees and offices in Seattle and Madrid.
Other investors in the Series C round include My Climate Journey (MCJ) Collective, as well as nearly all of LevelTen’s existing investors: Avista Development, Constellation Technology Ventures, Equinor Ventures, Founders’ Co-op, Prelude Ventures, Techstars, TotalEnergies Ventures and Wireframe Ventures. Google’s participation is described as aligned with its “goal of supporting innovative solutions that help businesses of all sizes, including Google Cloud customers, get carbon-free energy 24 days a week.”
“You know the #EnergyTransition is really happening when everyone from Big Oil to Big Tech comes together,” tweeted Chris DeVore, who has supported LevelTen through Founders’ Co-op and Techstars.
And does Smith think Biden’s goal of an emissions-free energy system is feasible?
“100 percent feasible,” he said. “The challenge is how we can do it quickly. We don’t have significant technological barriers to make that happen faster.”