Sep 30, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Energy industry veterans form SPAC to take climate startups public

A globe with energy thingies in it

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A group of energy industry veterans announced Tuesday that they are launching a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) aimed specifically at taking climate tech startups public.

Why it matters: They're self-branding as "the world’s first climate-focused" SPAC to launch.

  • The Climate Change Crisis Real Impact I Acquisition Corp. announced a $200 million IPO, with 20,000,000 shares priced at $10 each.
  • The new entity is poised to bring more capital into low-carbon tech companies.
  • Plus, some prominent names are leading. Co-founder and CEO David Crane is the former CEO of NRG Energy. Other co-founders include former senior GE exec Beth Comstock and John Cavalier, previously with Hudson Clean Energy partners.

The big picture: The SPAC, which is doing business as Climate Real Impact Solutions (CRIS), is looking at startups working on a range of technologies.

  • They're targeting sectors including renewables, grid stability, EV charging, climate-friendly liquid fuels, waste reduction, and sustainable farming.
  • They're also interested in the young but growing field of removing CO2 already in the atmosphere — an area also attracting investment from Bill Gates, Amazon and other deep pockets.

How it works: SPACs are public companies that operate as a shell, designed to acquire startups and thus make them public too.

  • SPACs aren't new, but 2020 has seen a burst of new ones and new deals.
  • Several companies in the electric transport space and other clean energy areas are going public via mergers with SPACs rather than traditional IPOs.

What we're watching: Who CRIS targets of course, and also other emerging players in the climate tech SPAC arena.

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