SyndicateRoom’s recent podcast with Caroline Halliday – angel investor and Director with Green Angel Syndicate – provided some valuable insights into the world of green angel investing. We highly recommend listening to the full conversation, but if you’d like to whet your interest first, here are the three main takeaways.
1. Cleantech covers much more than just renewable energy and carbon capture.
Caroline: “It's very, very broad. The types of companies we have coming forward to Green Angel Syndicate are very varied. We're looking at agrotech companies, food production, improved yield production, avoidance of pesticides. We are looking at not just energy, and optimising energy production and distribution, but also the mitigation of climate change impacts.
We look at storm management, storm drainage management, for example, through one of our companies, Storm Harvester. And we look at the circular economy. And you can imagine, because of my background with SEPA and waste reduction, that I'm very interested in waste: in the circular economy and creating demand for what we see as waste products because that's the answer to creating that circular economy.”
2. Hydrogen is a compelling future fuel source in specific cases.
Caroline: “What I'm really most interested in at the moment is hydrogen. I have an energy background, so I understand the production process, and I think hydrogen has a role to play in the decarbonisation of transport and heavy industry. It presents a particular opportunity in the northeast, and particularly as we move away from oil.
While for smaller vehicles the economics don't make sense: a battery powered car makes a lot of sense. But for heavier vehicles such as bin lorries or long distance vehicles, then hydrogen potentially does make sense because the size of the batteries required for those large vehicles is going to be as huge. They will need to be recharged on a regular basis.
So it creates a different opportunity. I've invested in a company via Equity Gap called UlemCo, which converts existing bin lorries to hydrogen powered bin lorries, and that's already operational. That was the first company which introduced me to hydrogen, and what got me involved and interested in what hydrogen could do.
It's not going to be used for all sectors. But there are some areas where I think there is a role to play for hydrogen, and it might be trains, it might even be aviation. If we're producing it from offshore wind, so that it's green hydrogen, using existing pipelines, I think some of the economics start to make sense at that point. And I think 20 years ago, the economics of hydrogen probably just wouldn't have not made sense. But today, in the right circumstances, it could make sense.”
3. A strong, confident team that communicates effectively and practices what it preaches is key.
Caroline: “What are we looking for beyond the pitch deck? What will come across in the presentation is that the ability to communicate is very important, the enthusiasm of the team, whether that team has collected the right advisors around them, whether they've got the support structure to be able to take their ideas forward. Ultimately we're looking for a good idea that could potentially make a big difference but that is also, critically, going to be successful commercially.
Every company in the Green Angel Syndicate portfolio has to be able to measure and monitor its carbon impact. And we do track that, so that's a key part of the criteria, and a key question in our assessment.”