Updated: May 3
- Renfe and Iberdrola finance zero-emission startups.
When it comes to High-Speed Technology and affordable and clean transportation options, Spain is serious about being in the forefront of global leadership. The Automotive, Infrastructure and Energy industries are combining their efforts and results are shown by Spanish tech startups like Zeleros and Wallbox.
National legacy counts. Did you know that Spain is one of the world leaders in renewable energies as a producer and as an exporter? In fact, back in 2013 it became the first country ever in the world to have Wind power as its main source of energy.
To stay future-proof, Spain’s state-owned Railway-company Renfe runs a startup incubator together with Telefonica's Wayra and the Ministry of Development. Renfe's inspiring and ambitious collaboration with both private and governmental key players is part of an ongoing modernization process of the Transportation sector in general.
Renewable energy from the sun
I have been following the evolution of Solar Energy for many years now. Since cost is the main driver in most decisions, solar energy hasn't had a decent chance before now. Finally, It seems that unit economics are in favor of this sunny and clean choice of fuel.
In an article in Forbes (May 2020) Enrique Dans, a Spanish Thought-leader writes:
"A decade ago, solar energy represented less than 1% of the world’s energy. Now it is 9%, and growing fast. Solar plants routinely win power auctions with bids that reach 4 cents per kilowatt-hour, a price that is no longer cheaper than a coal plant: it’s cheaper than coal itself."
He further elaborates on the current situation for Spain, saying:
"(Spain) has vast amounts of sunshine, the adaptation of the technology to the needs of the country will require a strong and unequivocal commitment to decarbonize industries that have come to depend on fossil fuels (...)".
Luckily there are many efficient initiatives in the making to make this transition to clean energy a reality in Spain and also to help boost this transformation worldwide.
Zero emission transportation
Released in 2013 as an Open source technology, by a joint team from Elon Musk companies Tesla and SpaceX, the Hyperloop system is said to be a safe, fast and energy-efficient transportation alternative for large numbers of people and goods.
Thanks to making the technology Open Source many talented teams in different parts of the world are simultaneously working on developing solutions to bring this type of Transportation to reality in the near future.
Spanish Zeleros is one of these Hyperloop companies with a value proposition being to minimize infrastructure costs by integrating the main technologies in an autonomous high-speed vehicle.
Based in the startup hub Valencia the company has made sure to collaborate through a global partnership with 3 other companies from Canada, the Netherlands and Poland, (announced June 2018), to create an international standard for Hyperloop.
Juan Vicén, Zeleros co-founder, commented on the collaboration:
"We are marking the beginning of a new era in high-speed transportation and the cooperation in Hyperloop standardization is key to ensure that the whole world benefits from it.”
Since then a lot has happened. Zeleros has announced €7 million in new funding from both previous and new investors; Altran, Grupo Red Eléctrica, Goldacre Ventures, Road Ventures, Plug and Play and Spanish Angels Capital, to secure the next phase in the roadmap:
"The following step will be the deployment of the European Hyperloop Development Centre in Spain, including a 3-km test-track to demonstrate the effectiveness of its technologies at high speed."
Referring to efficiently and sustainably connecting long-distance routes between 400 and 1,500 km for passengers and cargo transportation, David Pistoni, Cofounder and CEO further says in the corresponding press release:
“These new funds will boost a major milestone of developing and demonstrating our technologies in a real environment of operation, bringing Zeleros closer to a multibillion market opportunity to be captured in the next decades”.
European tourism and transport recovery plans following the COVID-19 outbreak
In addition, under the above headline The European Parliament shows its support for this type of technology in a motion for resolution (June 2020):
"Stresses that in the recovery plans for transport, along with support aimed at saving existing transport sectors, support should also be focused on innovative growth opportunities, such as Hyperloop connections between the major cities of Europe as an affordable, clean and fast alternative to short-haul air traffic."
Zero-emission chargers for electric vehicles
Another Spanish tech startup accelerating the use of clean energy is Wallbox founded in Barcelona 2015 by Enric Asunción and Eduard Castañeda. The company designs, develops and manufactures intelligent charging solutions for electric vehicles (EV). Its customers are major automobile manufacturers and large electricity utilities.
Wallbox announced (May 2020) additional €12 million in Series A investment, bringing the total Series A round to €23 million, led by Seaya Ventures securing capital from Endeavor Catalyst and existing investor Iberdrola.
Enric Asunción, CEO of Wallbox commented:
“The continued support of our investors and the addition of new shareholders into the Wallbox family will enable us to further our global growth. We are excited to start this new chapter in our mission to reduce the world’s dependency of fossil fuels.”
The funds will be used to drive Wallbox’s international growth in China and North America and to continue to expand its technology innovation and R&D efforts. Adds Allen Taylor, Silicon Valley-based Managing Director of investor Endeavor Catalyst:
“We have been working with Enric (Asunción) and the Wallbox team for over a year now, and we've been impressed by the vision he has created for the company and the speed in which they are turning it into reality,” "Innovators like Enric are creating the technologies and jobs of the future, and that's what the world needs today more than ever."
To wrap up, I would like to plant a thought-seed that, although Spain has not exactly been the most known for its high efficiency in the past, it is very possible that these innovations in CleanTech are allowing for more international collaborations to take place and speeding up the development of future Transportation, for the benefit of all.
--> Before you leave, I would love to get your comment on this piece!