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SoftBank leads $120M investment in virtual power plant startup

Illustration of an electricity pylon with a dollar sign at the top.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Swell, a virtual power plant startup, raised $120 million in Series B funding co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund and Greenbacker Development Opportunities, the company exclusively tells Axios.

Why it matters: The deal is a reminder that SoftBank has the power to single-handedly remake the climate tech funding environment — just as it did with tech — should it decide to become a more active investor in the industry.

Details: SoftBank and Greenbacker both received board seats as part of the all-equity round. Ares Management Infrastructure Opportunities Fund also participated in the round. Swell CEO Suleman Khan declined to disclose the round's valuation.

State of play: SoftBank has invested in climate technology companies — albeit via smaller rounds — that are primarily software companies with a climate focus. Two examples are Raincoat and Clarity AI.

  • Swell is among Vision Fund 2's larger climate tech bets and is more squarely in the climate tech space.

How it works: Swell has three main components: a solar and battery project development arm, a consumer financing arm, and a virtual power plant business.

  • The financing arm will roll out widely next year, Khan says, via two funds that will help finance the projects using funds generated from the company's VPP contracts.
  • It currently works with utilities in California, New York and Hawaii to sell back residential storage capacity via software that is able to dispatch fleets of residential storage during peak usage.
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