GE, NRG, ConocoPhilips Form Investment Venture

Three major American energy corporations–GE (NYSE: GE), NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NRG) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP)–are joining forces to invest in emerging and innovative energy technology companies.

The companies today announced they will commit $300 million in capital to the new joint venture, called Energy Technology Ventures, to fund approximately 30 venture- and growth-stage companies over the next four years.

The first investments are in companies developing potentially game-changing technologies in solar photovoltaic (Alta Devices), cleaner coal (Ciris Energy, Inc.) and non-food biofuels (CoolPlanetBioFuels).

The joint venture brings together three market-leading companies with significant strategic interests in the development of next-generation energy technology. This is the first corporate venture investment program by both NRG Energy–owner and operator of one of the country’s largest and most diverse power generation portfolios–and ConocoPhillips–one of the world’s largest oil companies.

GE Capital–through its business units GE Energy Financial Services and GE Capital, Equity–is already an active energy technology investor. 

Energy Technology Ventures will invest in, and offer commercial collaboration opportunities to, venture- and growth-stage energy technology companies in the renewable power generation, smart grid, energy efficiency, oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy, emission controls, water and biofuels sectors, primarily in North America, Europe and Israel.

The joint venture’s initial investments are in the following companies (investment amounts were not disclosed):

  • Alta Devices (Santa Clara, CA), a company working to improve the production economics of advanced materials for high-efficiency, low-cost solar energy
  • Ciris Energy, Inc. (Centennial, CO), a company developing technology to biochemically convert coal to methane at large scale and low cost.
  • CoolPlanetBioFuels (Camarillo, CA), a company developing technology that converts low-grade biomass into high-grade fuel and carbon that can be sequestered.

“Partnering with major energy companies such as NRG Energy and ConocoPhillips enables us to pool our financial resources and technological expertise–along with our extensive relationships – to provide more than money to emerging energy technology companies,” said Kevin Skillern, a managing director and leader of venture capital at GE Energy Financial Services.

GE Energy Financial Services’ venture capital team has invested about
$200 million in 27 early- and growth-stage energy-related technology
companies since January 2006. Four of those companies have gone public: A123 Systems (NASDAQ: AONE), Codexis (NASDAQ: CDXS), Orion Energy Systems (AMEX: OESX) and China High Speed Transmission (658.HK).

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