Earlier this month, blockchain startup WePower revealed an investment from conglomerate Marubeni. The Japanese company entered into a convertible loan agreement with WePower for an undisclosed amount. WePower runs a renewable energy marketplace that enables commercial and industrial clients to source energy.
Marubeni believes that WePower’s marketplace helps to automate and reduce friction for commercial and industrial energy consumers. That’s because the platform allows corporates to transact directly with renewable energy producers in an automated fashion. They can also sell any excess energy.
“We believe that WePower is in a unique position to disrupt the traditional corporate energy procurement markets by allowing almost any company to buy energy directly from renewable producers,” said Yoshiaki Yokota, Chief Operating Officer, Marubeni Power Business Division.
The Lithuanian startup claims that the business sector consumes two-thirds of global energy production. Statistics vary depending on the source. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, residential use in the U.S. makes up just 21% of consumption. The balance is consumed by the transportation sector (29%), with commercial (18%) and industrial (32%) users accounting for the balance.
Hence in a blog post, WePower stated that “any meaningful change towards a fully sustainable future is not possible without full involvement by corporate consumers.”
Last year WePower tokenized energy in Estonia. It was seen as an ideal marketplace because all households have smart meters. The pilot was run in conjunction with Estonian power company Elering. Twenty-six thousand hours and 24TWh of energy production and consumption data was uploaded to the Ethereum blockchain producing 39 billion Smart Energy Tokens.
The company is also involved in a power project in the Startupbootcamp Energy Australia Accelerator (STBC).
In early 2018 the company completed a $40 million ICO. The fundraising targeted both the general public and accredited investors like Galaxy Investment Partners. With such a substantial ICO, why are funds from Marubeni needed? The startup says it will use it to develop the platform further, expand the sales team, and explore new markets.
WePower is one of several blockchain startups focused on renewable energy. The Energy Web Foundation, which launched its blockchain last month, has more than a hundred big-name affiliate partners including the likes of Shell. Two weeks ago, Shell joined Sumitomo to invest in another blockchain energy startup LO3. And PowerLedger recently announced a deal with a subsidiary of Austrian utility Energie Steiermark.