Shell’s addition of flexibility aggregator Limejump to its New Energies stable was yet another signal of intent that, when it comes to the energy transition, the O&G major is not messing around.
Coming just two weeks after the acquisition of German battery storage manufacturer sonnen in a deal that’s widely expected to have been significant, concluding a deal for London-based Limejump is proof, if it were still needed, that Shell is willing and eager to dip into its significant resources to acquire the expertise it needs.
Speaking to Current± after the transaction, Limejump chief executive Erik Nygard said the deal stood to be significant for the firm in multiple ways. “We are now fully backed by literally one of the biggest energy firms in the world,” he says, adding that Limejump now had access to the kind of balance sheet position that it would not have had access to in “hardly any other way”.
Limejump will too benefit reputationally, as many other firms who’ve been snapped up by O&G majors in recent times. Lightsource BP, who BP took a minority stake in more than a year ago, has been quick to point to the way in which the energy giant was able to open the kinds of doors an independent Lightsource simply could not have wedged open.
Nygard says Limejump expects the same benefits. “It removes a lot of the friction to us to really scale and provide solutions to customers in the market… it means we have the possibility to really accelerate beyond anything we could’ve dreamed of before.”
Of course, Limejump are no stranger to major energy firms. Norway’s Statkraft was an early investor and the firm had a long-standing relationship with Shell long before initial discussions surrounding a potential acquisition started last year. Once those negotiations got serious, Nygard said the deal was completed in prompt fashion.
An accelerated trajectory
While there’ll be no change to how Limejump operates day to day – Nygard and his team will remain in place, as will Limejump’s identity and “innovation trajectory” – the company expects its aims and operations to be “super-charged”.
Shell’s deep(er) pockets will bring scale to Limejump’s operation and enable it to move far quicker than it has done previously, and the prospect of international expansion perhaps encapsulates that. Nygard insists the firm has currently has no plans to launch into new markets, but this is now something it could do “a lot faster than before. “It’s something we’ll have the power to do when we’re ready… there’s a possibility to become a lot more global in nature,” he says.
Of perhaps more interest to the energy sector as a whole, however, is the potential for Shell to combine its newly-acquired units into one or more transition-themed power company. Shell, BP, Centrica, Total, Statkraft, innogy and Enel – essentially any major energy company worth its salt – have all established some kind of alternative energy, innovation or R&D hub over the last two years as they scrap for share in the new energy paradigm.
The potential synergies for these companies are significant to the extent of being truly game changing. Shell, for example, has spoken widely of its potential to market sonnen batteries to the hundreds of thousands of UK energy consumers it gained access to by acquiring First Utility last year. Its purchase of New Motion gave it reach into the EV sector. Limejump could, feasibly, sit behind the scenes, accessing and using all of that inherent flexibility to its parent company’s advantage.
Nygard insists that there’s no real plan or strategy to connect and combine those units as it stands, but says it’s “definitely an interesting prospect” for Shell to have such a “community of companies” at its disposal.
Of greater and more immediate importance to Nygard is how the deal will enable Limejump to go through the gears and make a real, tangible contribution towards mitigating the impacts of climate change, something UK residents have been confronted with this week.
“Even though our changes here are incremental or marginal gains because we’re an optimisation or service or energy trading company, we need to exploit that at its maximum capability to be able to be a support vehicle for this new future. That’s what this gives us the power to do,” Nygard says.