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Emily Bernstein, Veronica Fresneau

Why early stage investments are smart investments: Interview with Animesh Ranjan of Yard Energy

It’s been an exciting few months here at Rockstart. At the beginning of October, we were thrilled to announce the launch of the Rockstart Energy fund of €21m to invest in energy startups. With the goal of driving positive impact on a global scale, we are on a journey of becoming one of the leading accelerator-VCs in the world. And we are proud of that as over the years we have built a solid portfolio of energy startups, Sympower, Flexidao, Dexter Energy and Ammp Technologies being among some of the most successful ones.

Rockstart Energy was launched with the participation of institutional investors, family offices, business angels and other industry players. One of these players is YARD ENERGY, one of the largest privately owned onshore wind farm developers and investors in the Netherlands.

In the spirit of knowledge-sharing, we reached out to Animesh Ranjan, Chief Investment Officer at YARD ENERGY – to learn more about the company, their investment philosophy and their view on Rockstart Energy.

Meet YARD ENERGY

YARD ENERGY was founded in 2004 and their first years were spent on acquiring wind farms and offering advisory services. In 2013, they became a top three wind developer via acquisitions of leading developers in the Netherlands with operations in France, Belgium and Poland. The company then established a partnership with Eurus Energy in 2016, Japan’s largest renewable energy company. YARD ENERGY is now managing proprietary and third-party capital and is investing in the scale-up and mid-growth stage of companies.

Their mission is to accelerate the European energy transition by assisting committed teams in realizing their potential and turning their vision into reality. Furthermore, YARD ENERGY intends to establish a dedicated equity fund and will leverage their team strength, financial structuring capabilities, and expert knowledge of the renewable sector. Animesh Ranjan emphasizes YARD ENERGY’s hands-on approach: “We assume a proactive role in our portfolio companies and aim to embrace emerging technologies and invest in the scale-up and mid-growth stage of companies.”

In recent years, YARD ENERGY has been involved in several development initiatives and has worked on the purchase and sale of various wind energy projects. They have structured and raised €200m of equity and over €650m of debt, and in the past have managed €250m (150MW+) of wind assets for more than 100 external investors.

When asked about their investment strategy, Animesh highlighted the importance of identifying and investing in teams who can benefit from YARD ENERGY’s experience and expertise: “We invest in passionate teams with the potential to successfully build and grow their company.” YARD ENERGY’s current investment strategy is threefold, as it involves a blend of smart business plans, defensible positions, and scalability: “We invest in up to €5m per partnership or company, focusing on the scale-up or mid-growth stage of companies, and provide follow-up investments with co-investors.”

YARD ENERGY focuses its investments in three main areas: energy generation (wind, solar, geothermal, hydrogen), energy efficiency (storage, real estate efficiency, technology), and energy transition infrastructure (e-mobility, smart grid). “Primarily, we want to have an impact in the field of Energy Transition in the Benelux region,” Animesh explained. “Additionally, we mainly invest whereby the broader team can assist in growing the company. Although we prefer not to take on a management role in our investments, we don’t want to be a passive investor either.”

Long-term benefits of investing in Rockstart Energy

When asked why they decided to participate in Rockstart Energy, Animesh stressed the strategic importance of leveraging the early-stage venture ecosystem: “YARD ENERGY is not currently active in early stage and Venture Capital investments, though we do see ourselves as having an important role in supporting startups to reach scale up stage. We see natural synergies here that we can leverage in order to be involved with early stage startups while also assisting them when they need growth capital and expertise.”

Moving forward, YARD ENERGY also expects to accelerate the Energy Transition in the Benelux region and to benefit from the synergies between Rockstart and its team in terms of knowledge sharing, both for expertise and deals. “Additionally, we do anticipate playing an active role both in terms of investments either independently or together with co-investors in the Netherlands like APG, Invest-NL and regional funds during the scale up stage.”

Animesh also shared how YARD ENERGY’s selection strategy for investments has changed since their first investment. “We first invested mainly in wind projects or wind turbine companies but then and currently we are more looking for equity positions in companies in the broader energy transition sector. Additionally, our investments have more regional focus with preference for companies with Netherlands roots.”

As YARD ENERGY’s strategy shows, investing in Rockstart Energy has a variety of benefits for investors as well as for startups. Most notably, with the right long-term outlook, investors can identify the startups that will most benefit from their expertise at a crucial stage in their growth, while simultaneously making the best use of their investments.

Thank you for sharing your insights with us, Animesh!


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