Q&A: Andrea Course, Venture Principal, Shell Ventures
Published 20th September 2021
By Kamogelo Motse, Portfolio Researcher, Climate Council
Q. What does Shell Ventures do and what does your role as venture principal entail?
Shell Ventures is the corporate venture arm of Shell that makes minority investments into tech startups that can help accelerate the energy and mobility transition. These innovative technologies are used by Shell to reduce our carbon footprint and become more efficient and effective. My role entails identifying these startups, presenting them as great opportunities to our investment committee then going through the deal and becoming part of the company’s board.
Q. Your current job is very different from what you studied, what made you want to get into the venture capital space?
I love the personal aspect of investments! I get to look into really cool and exciting innovative companies that are doing things that I didn’t even know were possible. Being in ventures allows me to learn new things everyday as well as making an impact by investing in these innovative companies.
Q. It has recently been in the news that Shell has bolstered its Venture Capital arm through increasing budgets, hiring more staff, and doing more deals. Can you provide some more detail on this?
We do think of Venture Capital as a way to innovate outside of the big corporation. It is important as we continue the energy transition, to support ideas and to support innovation as well as coming up with new technologies. We are disrupting rather than being disrupted.
Q. Your focus is mainly on Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning companies, why do you think it is important to invest in such companies and what role do you think they play in the energy transition?
The reason why I think Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is important is because technology has advanced so much in the recent years, we need to ensure that we are optimizing every process as we go along. The only way that we are going to make it in a future, where carbon footprint is decreased, is if we can make use of these technologies. The energy transition is not only about enabling new sources of energy but also about reducing unit cost to become more efficient and productive so there is less waste.
Q. Are there any particular up and coming technologies that you have your eye on?
There is a lot going on, people have gotten so creative, especially in this pandemic. I am personally looking into carbon capture utilization and storage markets. There is plenty happening in the carbon space when it comes to direct capture, point source capture and how we can use and create these carbon credits in a meaningful way to reduce carbon emissions.
Q. Why do you think focusing on ESG principles when investing is important? In addition, how does Shell Ventures approach this?
More investors are looking at ESG principles as something that must happen. You cannot ignore it. We have to work together to ensure that we meet the Paris Climate Agreement. At Shell Ventures we have to continue to listen to our customers, while also furthering the development of solutions that truly make a difference for both our company and the energy transition.
Q. Do you think there is diversity and inclusion in the sector that you work in? Is this something that still needs to be worked on? If so, what are some of the ways in which you think this can be achieved?
Venture Capital is a male dominated industry and when it comes to investments most people do not realize how little goes to female founders, globally about 2-3 percent went to female founders. When looking at fund managers and the amount that male fund managers versus female fund managers are able to raise you can see the disparity; women tend to raise less money and therefore get less money to invest. To change the problem, the first step is to acknowledge that there is a bias to women so that when decisions are being made people can ask themselves if they are making a certain decision because this person is a female or a minority.
Andrea Course works in Shell Ventures as Venture Principal where she invests in innovative start and scale-up companies that accelerate the energy transition, focusing in the areas of ML, AI, Robotics and Decarbonization. Currently she sits on the boards of Innowatts (Digital Energy Platform) and Osperity (Intelligent Visual Monitoring). Andrea has 15 years of experience in the energy sector as both technical SME and investor. Prior to joining Shell, Andrea worked as Venture Principal at Schlumberger Technology Investments. In addition, she is a speaker and gender equality advocate who supports minority-owned startups as founder and managing partner for Course Investments as well as an Advisory Board Member of the business angel Minority association (baMa). She holds a degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Central Oklahoma, a Master of Science from the University of Oklahoma in Aerospace Engineering and an executive MBA from the University of Houston.
For more information about Shell Ventures, please visit their website: https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/new-energies/shell-ventures.html
Our latest Q&A gives a spotlight toBo Bai, Chairman & Founder, Asia Green Fund & MetaVerse Green Exchange. Tasha is passionate about climate change and issues that impact women and people of color. Her life work includes investing over 10 years in the Renewable Energy industry with an emphasis in Power Systems read more
The Climate Council have brought together over thirty bright and great minds in the finance, investment, and energy worlds to identify the challenges females face in accessing capital and barriers to growth, with a focus on clean energy and early-stage fundraising. read more
A previous study from the PEW research centre has shown that women are more likely to consider climate change as a serious threat than men. The study has shown that women believe that lifestyle changes need to be made to combat climate and are more likely to make eco-friendly consumer choices. read more
During this years Climate Council Disrupt that was held in Dubai in May we got to talk to Citic Capital’s Managing Director, Fanglu Wang.
Fanglu Wang has over 25 years of experience in capital markets, corporate finance, financial engineering and risk management. read more
The United States has seen a cumbersome rise in the cost of power purchase agreements (PPAs) during recent years. Prices have gone up by 9.7% in the first quarter of 2022 and have represented a 28.5% increase year on year. Supply chain issues such as supply and demand volatility in the market and regulatory issues caused by independent service operators have caused this massive price increase. read more
The Climate Council sat down with Matthew Williams, Founder & CEO of IONATE, to discuss their proprietary hardware, the Hybrid Intelligent Transformer - reimagining an age-old technology with the future in-mind. We caught Matthew at an exciting time as IONATE secured £3.3 million Seed financing to scale their deep tech innovations read more
The Climate Council’s Kamogelo Motse got to chat with Angella Rainford, CEO and Founder, Soléco Energy. Angella took time to speak with Kamo about her work at Soléco Energy, her work at Rekamniar Frontier Ventures where they have co-developed the largest solar farm in Jamaica, and the recent market trends in energy storage solutions she is excited about. read more
The Climate Council highlighted five exciting companies in the United States and Canada that have developed innovative cleantech products in the fields of renewable energy, data, energy storage and electric vehicles. read more
Sara Chamberlain has worked in the energy and environment sector for nearly a decade, with a core focus on helping energy startups develop commercialization strategies. Working at the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship is a personal passion. She currently leads Energy Foundry’s investment activity and maintains an active role with each of the firm’s portfolio companies. read more
Q&A: Paula Singliarova, Head of Sustainability and Stewardship, Arabesque Asset Management to discuss how her sustainability function sits in between investments, business development and strategy. How her main responsibilities are overseeing proxy voting and engagement activities, working with the investment team on integration of sustainability scores in the investment process, monitoring latest sustainability news and of course, you can’t escape sustainability reporting… read more
The global renewable sector has matured it has seen many challenges, many great successes and has established a market that can compete with traditional avenues of energy production. Yet, the global energy crises defining the global economy, have created a moment for pause among many private equity investors as to whether or not renewables can provide the returns they were once used to with oil and gas. Despite such uncertainties, private equity investors committed to the energy transition have been sourcing projects that have potential to rapidly grow and assist in achieving the vision for a net-zero future. read more
Earlier this month, the Climate Council's Kamogelo Motse sat down with Ghada Rahal, Senior Engineer - Sustainability at Enova by Veolia. Ghada took the time to speak with Kamo about her work in the clean energy sector, the importance of highlighting women in the sector and how important women are to advancing the energy transition. We ended off the Q&A with Ghada giving advice to young women who would want to pursue a career in sustainable energy. Enjoy the interview! read more
BAYAKHA Infrastructure Partners flagship fund, the Bayakha Economic Infrastructure Fund expects to make equity and empowerment financing/structured equity investments into eight to ten qualifying, brownfield and late-stage greenfield renewable energy and other economic infrastructure projects (such as water, transport and ICT) in South Africa (SA), primarily, and to a lesser extent, select parts of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) read more
Our latest Q&A gives a spotlight toBo Bai, Chairman & Founder, Asia Green Fund & MetaVerse Green Exchange. "As an impact-driven private equity firm that is aligned with UN-SDG goals, we aim to create a lasting green impact to communities in China and throughout Asia by staying disciplined with our investment approach and focus." read more
Our latest Q&A gives a spotlight to Hulisani Neswiswi, Managing Director at Trilemma Impact Investments -driving sustainable investments in South Africa. "The idea was to answer the question of - what if the energy transition, can be used to challenge income inequality, through increasing local participation in the development, ownership and management of this current and subsequent waves of energy projects?" read more
The magnitude of the oceans is often difficult to comprehend, deeper than the highest mountain is tall and filled with life that feeds half of the planet’s population. We are largely coastal dwellers, and even when we are not, the globalized nature of the planet ensures that we rely on goods and resources that either come from the ocean or are transported across the ocean. This will not change, the oceans will continue to be the source of life, food and transport for many years to come – and so, what can be done to utilize the oceans more sustainably and create a viable business proposition for green, clean investments. read more
Global investment giant Blackstone has made one of the largest renewable investments in North American history with a $3 billion minority investment in Invenergy – a leading solar and wind developer. read more
The Climate Council will examine the development of solar policies in the USA and the implications of these policies in attracting both domestic and foreign investment into the US solar sector. read more
The Climate Council approached Sonnedix’s ESG manager, Dijana Vlaisavljevic, to explain to us her approach, some of their challenges and their successes as they exhibit what it means to be a leader in ESG. read more
Alistair Daynes, Co-Founder and Mattea Webster, Business Development from ReWild Africa explain to us the concept of rewilding and how the benefits of integrating nature-based solutions into business strategy will future proof companies and their profits from climate change and biodiversity loss impacts. read more
Investing in natural capital actually implies substantial economic, social, and environmental benefits. In addition to supporting national pandemic recovery plans and the prevention of future pandemics, it will support those vulnerable countries most affected by coronavirus which will likely exploit natural capital to overcome debts induced by pandemic. read more
The Taskforce on Nature-based Financial Discloures (TFND) Alliance is a financial activist market-led coalition, backed by the UN, seeking to utilize the financial tools at our disposal to induce a more rapid rate of change to our emissions-heavy habits. The Alliance interviewed organizations, government bodies and regulators that are in control of over $8 trillion in assets to develop the 'Nature In Scope' a summary report of proposals to initiate a global framework for nature-based financial disclosures. read more
Charlotte Aubin- 25 years of experience in environmental infrastructure investment, international financial asset management, including 12 years dedicated to international and Sub-Saharan Africa renewable energy and energy transition.
Founder of GreenWish Group in 2010 dedicated to financing, developing and operating and strategic advisory on renewable energy infrastructures and energy transition transactions. 2000- 09, Managing Director of Morgan Stanley Investment Management built the French and Swiss institutional activities up to a multi-billion dollar asset level across multiple global asset classes read more
Green Hydrogen is the trendiest clean energy source around, touted for its ‘simple’ ability to turn water into a highly combustible energy source capable of replacing our demand for oil and gas. However, the costs of green hydrogen are significant and from a commercial perspective, potentially unviable for some time. read more
Our focus is not so much on industrial businesses but more on financial business and businesses that have a social impact including social housing, renewables, transport and those which reduce carbon. To be clear, it is not an impact fund, it is ethical sustainable fund. read more
On the 16th of September the Climate Council held a webinar in partnership with White & Case, welcoming speakers from State Street Global Advisors, EOS at Federated Hermes, Orion Energy Partners, IHS Markit and Encourage Capital discussing how asset stewardship can bring about a low carbon economy. read more
The steel, cement & heavy-duty transportation sectors that we have become deeply reliant upon, are the very same that weigh us down as we seek to new paths to a cleaner, net-zero society. We have looked at the impacts of three of the most ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors and what alternatives may look like from the perspective of their emissions, costs and practicalities. read more
Andrea Course works in Shell Ventures as Venture Principal where she invests in innovative start and scale-up companies that accelerate the energy transition, focusing in the areas of ML, AI, Robotics and Decarbonization. Currently she sits on the boards of Innowatts (Digital Energy Platform) and Osperity (Intelligent Visual Monitoring). Andrea has 15 years of experience in the energy sector as both technical SME and investor. read more
ICE is a green fuel company focused on mega scale projects to deliver economies of scale and competitive pricing in green hydrogen, ammonia, methanol, and other synfuels. We have announced three projects: two are in Western Australia totalling 76GW+ of upstream wind and solar and downstream production of up to 30 MTPA of green ammonia. read more
Applying a climate lens to investing is, today, not an unfamiliar notion. Given that ‘environmental’ is a central pillar of ESG, reporting on climate and integrating it into business and investment decisions has had a lot of attention in recent years. read more
We believe green financing can play a huge part in reducing carbon emissions and, in the process, help mitigate the severe impact climate change will have on our lives. But in the past, it has often been overlooked as banks’ biggest impact is indirect by financing carbon-intensive companies or projects and disclosure on these financed emissions has been poor. read more
An indicator of sectoral strength has often been the quantity and value of M&A activity over an annual period, providing a sense of capital inflows and corporate interest in developing markets. The renewable energy sector has enjoyed year-on-year growth in M&A deals for the past decade, with a slight and expected dip in early 2020. read more
The Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) is a global coalition of leaders from across the energy landscape committed to achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century in order to limit global warming to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C. Our Commissioners come from a range of organisations – energy producers, energy intensive industries, technology providers, finance players and environmental NGOs – which operate across developed and developing countries and play different roles in the energy transition. read more
Commitment to environmental issues is influencing deal strategy across the globe and ESG’s momentum shows no sign of slowing down. In a survey conducted by the Financial times at the end of 2020, 83 percent of business leaders said that ESG factors will be increasingly critical to M&A decision making in the next 12-24 months.
Whether as a means for dealmakers to identify attractive M&A targets, a way to identify risk in the deal process or a response to government or investor pressure, ESG considerations can no longer be ignored. read more
'Special transactions' is a definition we use to indicate opportunities that present one of the following features: considerable size, multi technology, multi jurisdictions, teams. These are complex transactions, with a structured and very competitive process... read more
Globally, China has been the top investor in clean energy for nine out of the last ten years. And given the country’s own accelerated climate targets and opening up of the energy sector, the door for foreign investors has never been more open. read more
The South East Asian energy landscape has emerged over the last 20 years to become a driver of trends and a source of demand, all as a result of the rapid economic development among the South-East Asian Tigers (and their neighbours) - can the region do the same for renewable generation technologies? read more
Based on the IEA’s Current Policies Scenario, around US$7.7t is currently committed to renewables, but US$12.9t is required under the Sustainable Development Scenario. Join four industry-leading experts as they delve into the nitty-gritty of the biggest hurdles to closing the renewable energy investment gap. read more
As a technology focused impact investor, we are committed to achieving greenhouse gas emissions reduction through differentiated technology investments. Our investments fit a very precise profile. They are all in the growth stage of development with experienced management teams; have a differentiated offering in terms of technology; and possess a scalable business model. read more
A superb Q&A with Eoin Murray, Head of Investment at Federated Hermes - an investment manager with an exceptional global experience in the energy sector. Federated Hermes is a leading investment and stewardship firm with a vast portfolio of diversified asset under management. read more
Foresight manages a wide range of different investment vehicles backed by public and private institutional investors as well as retail investors. These funds have differing investment objectives and quite diverse portfolios. read more
While each investor will hold different motivations for what whets their appetite, it may be possible to isolate some areas within the renewable markets that may attract the excitement across the spectrum. Solar PV has soared to new lows, capital and installation costs continue fall and solar power auctions have brought consumers record low prices per kWh. Wind capacity expansion doubled in 2020, with offshore wind farms growing in utility-scale popularity. Green hydrogen, on the other hand, remains a costly ambition. read more
In 2015 at the United Nations Assembly, 17 Sustainable Development Goals were established. The purpose of the Sustainable Development Goals is to make sure that everyone has a better and sustainable future. One of them was coined SDG7 and aims to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy... Read more. read more
Emerging economy countries face the undeniably huge task to transition their economies to be cleaner and more sustainable. This transition however will impact jobs in fossil fuel-based energy production and could, if not considered from a social perspective, negatively impact millions of individuals in emerging economy nations. read more
Whilst the green finance revolution is well and truly underway, it risks leaving out emerging markets, including some of the world’s most vulnerable nations to climate change. The Climate Council asks how Green Bonds can affect this and assist the revolution. read more
Read our Q&A with Roeland Menger works as Investment Manager at EDF -a French utility- where he focuses on developing projects and strategic investments in sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia and the Middle-East. With a past experience in amongst others a finance consultancy and at a Silicon Valley start-up, he comes with a proven track record in project finance, corporate finance and M&A, mainly focused on frontier markets read more
Sustainable finance can be described as taking due account of environmental, social and governance considerations when making investment decisions. This process is intended to lead to increased longer-term investments into sustainable economic activities and projects and lasting benefits to both clients and society at large. read more
A future in which Green Hydrogen gas is set to replace the carbon-intensive fossil fuels of yesteryear has entered an era of quiet and confident anticipation. How can the global south participate in this shift... read more
The restrictive costs of infrastructure development across rural Africa leave millions without reliable access to power. Could solar PV panels and Micro-grid solutions finally solve this inhibitor to development? read more
On the 23rd July 2020, the Energy Council hosted the second webinar in their debate series which posed the question of whether “a subsidy-free renewable global industry is possible within 5 years”. read more
On 13 August 2020, we invited a panel of industry experts to discuss whether the corporate sector is the most important actor in advancing energy efficiency, decarbonisation, clean electricity, heat and mobility read more
On 9 July 2020, we invited a panel of industry experts to discuss whether the construction of new clean energy projects should be prioritised over ‘greening’ our existing infrastructure to maximise efficiency by society-at-large read more
Solar power is steadily growing in Africa, with 5.8 GW being installed in 2019. However, Africa has a capacity estimated at 1,000 GW for solar power. So why were only 5.8 GW installed in 2019? read more
9 July 2020 - With global investment in new renewable energy capacity (excluding large hydro-electric projects) at $282.2 billion in 2019, it is clear that there is a growing appetite to invest into new clean energy projects. But is investing large sums into new projects putting the cart before the horse? read more
We explore how banks and asset managers are providing debt and innovative capital products and how they are responding to very different circumstances than the ones laid out in their commitments published as recently as March. read more
The argument has been made that aligning corporate, and investment goals to the Paris Agreement is easier in a growth market than during a downturn. If so what does this current situation mean in practice for investors and corporates alike? read more
We delve into the economics of the hydrogen economy, exploring where we are and what is needed for hydrogen to be the saviour that so many claim it will be - this is what we discovered when we spoke to our members. read more
If executives are going to successfully access some of the $2 trillion a year in clean energy infrastructure being allocated, knowing what these investors look for is important. Much is written about why they are investing, but we asked our membership what holds them back from deploying capital. read more
Participants from the Capital Raising panel, that was due to take place at Mexico Assembly, met virtually to discuss the effects of COVID-19, what's keeping investors awake at night, how governments can help and more. read more
We are in a world where we are very much moving away from subsidies and where we are active is Spain and we think that’s the number one market in Europe where solar is absolutely profitable and sustainable in the long term without subsidies.. read more