Notion Capital leads €11m Series A at Caeli Wind to transform and modernise the wind energy value chain.

Driving sustainable energy transition: Why we invested in Caeli Wind

Notion Capital leads €11m Series A at Caeli Wind to transform and modernise the wind energy value chain.

By Stephen Chandler & Maximilian Eichler

At Notion Capital, we are big believers in the potential of vertical SaaS and we were early backers of companies like Mews Systems, Easol and Protex AI. Caeli Wind disrupts a very specific value chain in the energy industry with a stack of software products, albeit with a different monetisation model than our historic vertical SaaS investments.

Massive demand for wind energy

The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is one of the most significant societal shifts of the 21st century. To reduce emissions and satisfy our ever-growing energy needs, we need to scale clean, sustainable sources of electricity. One of the most attractive renewable energy sources is wind energy. It is remarkably effective, safe and scalable. To put things into perspective: a single onshore wind turbine can power over 1,500 average European households and a single turn of a large wind turbine can power the average household for up to a day. It is, therefore, not surprising that Europe is aiming to double its wind energy capacity from 204 GW in 2022 to over 400 GW by 2030, the majority of which will be onshore.  

An industry facing substantial bottlenecks

The sector is, however, plagued by inefficiencies and the transition to wind is facing two major challenges: 1) finding suitable land for wind parks; and 2) the lengthy and costly development and approval process where it can take 4-6 years or more from identifying a suitable site to opening a power-generating wind park.

Finding suitable land is challenging, because of the plethora of restrictions that determine the feasibility of a wind park. These include not only federal and local planning rules but also the topography of the land, wind speeds, proximity to buildings, restricted air space, nature conservation areas, grid connections and many other factors.

The lengthy timelines in this value chain are partially caused by bureaucratic hurdles, but also by the fact that project developers have felt little pressure to innovate, as they can run very profitable businesses with minimal automation. The value chain has also been largely untouched by the SaaSification that has revolutionised so many other industries.

Caeli Wind’s contribution to the industry

To alleviate these bottlenecks, Caeli Wind digitises what is currently an entirely analogue process, including: 1) a comprehensive analysis & planning tool to identify suitable sites and assess capacity; 2) a marketplace to connect landowners and project developers for wind parks; and 3) a workflow automation product to accelerate the initial site development process.

The analysis & planning tool overlays 50+ types of constraints that influence the feasibility of a wind park. If a site is suitable for a wind park, it automatically calculates the best placement of wind turbines on the land and generates a complete business plan for the site, using advanced wind models to estimate power generation potential, as well as all the associated costs. This enables Caeli to rapidly provide a best estimate of the potential of a given site, with a very high probability that a wind park can in fact be realised on the land.

With the marketplace, Caeli Wind serves as an independent intermediary to alleviate the information asymmetry between the landowners and developers, as well as ensure fair terms, and a rapid execution of the project without undue delays. This can unlock new land, which has previously been not accessible to project developers, ensure fair terms for landowners and accelerate the realisation of wind farms by up to 18 months. 

Caeli charges a success fee per MW split between signing, receiving planning consent and go live of the wind park so is completely aligned to the interests of both landowners and project developers. Its commercial success in its first year of operations was nothing short of staggering for a start-up and, with a site pipeline of more than 3 GW of wind power capacity, the company is already a key player in the German wind energy market. Its next challenge is to extend these capabilities into other global markets, where the same challenges and friction points exist.

Led by industry veterans

Behind Caeli Wind stands a seasoned leadership team: Ben Schlemmermeier (CEO), Heiko Bartels (CCO), Andreas Rieckhoff (CTO) and Wilfried Gillrath (Chairman). All have decades-long track records of building iconic companies in the energy industry. Ben has been a trusted advisor to corporations, NGOs, and governments for over 35 years, providing his expertise on energy-related projects and turning his company, LBD, into one of Germany’s most successful strategy consulting firms in the energy market. Heiko launched his first venture-backed energy startup in 1999, building several successful tech companies over the past two decades. Andreas is a seasoned technical leader with 13 years’ experience as Head of Software Development at LichtBlick, before founding his own startup, Enyway. Wilfried built LichtBlick, a clean energy pioneers in Germany, which serves over 1m customers and generated over €1bn revenue in 2022.

We believe Caeli Wind has the potential to disrupt the wind energy industry and pave the way for a more sustainable and energy-efficient future. With their innovative products, visionary leadership, and immense global market potential, we think they are poised to become a game-changer in the renewable energy sector. We’re excited to support the team on their journey as they expand globally and develop their products along the value chain.

Why Notion? A note from the founders…

"We have spoken to many players in the current financing round. One VC stood out from the very first minute: Notion Capital. Because of its speed, its commitment and its platform concept. The phrase "a VC that we had wished for as entrepreneurs at the time" really hits the nail on the head. And by the way, it is a very likeable team. Many and sincere thanks to Stephen and Max and the entire Notion team for their trust. We are delighted."

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