A group of investors including Eneco is backing Dutch startup Solar Monkey. The firm develops software which allows solar panel installers to save time when designing, installing and monitoring solar energy systems
Eneco Ventures, together with several other investors, is investing €4m in the Dutch startup Solar Monkey. The company develops software that allows installers of solar panels to save time when designing and monitoring solar systems and producing quotations. Solar Monkey claims that this efficiency gain allows customers to install twice as many photovoltaic (PV) systems.
The company presents the software as a solution to the “huge workload” in the installation industry. Earlier this month, the NVDE – the Dutch sustainable energy association – concluded that delivery times for solar panels is increasing rapidly due to a shortage of installers, combined with the high demand and scarcity of materials.
Solar Monkey, founded in 2015, has quickly acquired a relatively large market share in the Netherlands among installers of solar panels. Its software, which is based on “advanced algorithms, aerial photos and 3D models”, is used in one in four solar power installations in the Netherlands, according to the company.
Little competition in Germany
The investment should primarily enable growth abroad. In addition to the Netherlands, Solar Monkey is active in Belgium and Spain, and Germany and England will follow shortly. “We see that the Netherlands is at the forefront of solar-tech innovation in software,” says CEO and co-founder Jan Pieter Versluijs.
He points out that the Dutch installation market has grown “explosively” over the past five years, from 0.3 GWp per year to 2 GWp per year. “We hope to achieve the same in other European countries, where the potential is still huge,” he said in a statement.
The latter is also emphasised by Hans Cool, investment director at Eneco Ventures. He has particularly high expectations of the German market, where competition for Solar Monkey is relatively modest.
Eneco’s subsidiary Lichtblick could play a role in this because it sells solar panels to customers. Lichtblick is the fifth energy company in the fragmented German market, after the big four: RWE, Eon, EnBW and Vattenfall. Two other investments by Eneco Ventures – Sunvigo and Installion – can also generate revenue for Solar Monkey. Both supply solar installations to the German market.
Stamp of approval
Eneco Ventures invests in startups in the energy transition. The magic word here is synergy, says Cool. “A company must be able to add value to our company, our customers or our assets, such as wind or solar parks. Vice versa, it often has added value for the startup to do business with us, because we have a lot of knowledge of the energy sector and because we are a large customer. In addition, an investment by Eneco for a startup is of course also a kind of stamp of approval.”
In addition to Eneco, Helen Ventures is responsible for a large part of the capital injection. That is the investment fund of the Finnish energy company Helen, short for Helsingin Energia. Last week, Eneco also announced an investment involving the Finns. At that time, it concerned €10m in growth capital for Gradyent, which makes digital copies of heat networks.
Two investors who have previously invested in Solar Monkey, 4impact capital and InnovationQuarter, have also invested money in this investment round. “In doing so, they have maintained their interest,” says Cool.