November 19, 2022

What clean energy startups need to scale

To reach net zero emissions by 2050, clean energy startups need large amounts of capital and a shift in consumer attitudes


5 min read

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Hydrogen fuel station and storage tank

Cleantech — or technology that makes it possible to reduce or avoid harm to the environment — has seen impressive growth over the past few years and as the climate crisis worsens, all eyes are on the tech that could provide us with green energy.

But in order to reach net zero emissions by 2050, cleantech companies need to scale up their businesses — fast — and amid economic uncertainty.  

For Aurélien Narminio, head of equity listing at pan-European market infrastructure Euronext, one good option is listing on a stock exchange. 


“Initiating cleantech projects is often done in private hands, but you need large amounts of capital at the time of scaling up,” he says. “Public equity markets are particularly well suited for industries like cleantech because they give investors the ability to invest large amounts of capital on disruptive ventures.”

In addition, “your company remains independent and the timing of your strategy isn’t tied to the agenda of your investors, who have the liquidity they need to enter and exit their position swiftly,” says Narminio.  

So, what do clean energy startups need to scale? We hear from Euronext and the CFO of Hydrogen Refueling Solutions (HRS), a French cleantech company. 

Clean energy: A sector to watch 

Of the 700+ tech companies listed on Euronext markets, 159 are cleantech companies. The fastest growing subsector is clean energy, mainly driven by new listings of hydrogen companies. 

HRS, which provides filling stations for hydrogen vehicles, is part of Euronext Tech Leaders, a new initiative aimed at providing visibility to tech companies. HRS serves both commercial and industrial customers — refuelling micromobility startup Hype’s zero-emission taxis as well as manufacturing company Plug Power’s forklifts. 

A key benefit to hydrogen vehicles is that they only take a few minutes to refill, compared to electric ones which take around 30 minutes to charge.

Clean energy companies are resisting the economic downturn

HRS first sold shares to the public in February 2021 and raised €97.3m, while its CEO and founder Hassen Rachedi retained 74% of the company. 

“Clean energy companies are resisting the economic downturn,” Narminio says. “If you look at the amount of private investment and public subsidies flowing into clean energy, we think this is a key trend that will continue.”

But the issue with relying on subsidies to scale up is that they can take a while to come through. “We’re not counting on subsidies to grow, and I think it’s fair to say that if we had, we’d still be waiting,” says Kader Hidra, CFO of HRS. “But some of our customers are benefiting from subsidies, so we are benefitting indirectly.”

How the financial sector is supporting cleantech

The Euronext Tech Leaders initiative launched in June 2022. It’s composed of over 110 high-growth companies — including 26 cleantech companies — each meeting a specific set of criteria to qualify. 


Through Euronext Tech Leaders, Euronext and its partners are offering these companies a suite of services, including a new index, and advisory and communication services. They also say they are ensuring improved trading conditions on Euronext Tech Leaders stocks for retail investors, as well as analytics coverage.

As well as the Euronext Tech Leaders index, which includes all the Euronext Tech Leader member companies, Euronext has over 350+ ESG indices in Europe.

Euronext is also developing thematic ESG indices, which are packaged tools for investors to invest more money into the companies that are most active in the transition

“Being a member of a blue-chip index is important for attracting capital, so these indices are an incentive for companies to strengthen their ESG focus,” Narminio says. “Euronext is also developing thematic ESG indices, which are packaged tools for investors to invest more money into the companies that are most active in the transition.” 

Since listing on Euronext, HRS has been able to secure a €16m loan for a new production site to meet the demands of its project pipeline worth over €800m.

“The future is definitely to go global,” Hidra says. “We want to expand in Europe, and in the Middle East and US markets.” 

HRS is determined to be the most attractive place to work in South Grenoble, offering free health insurance, high minimum wages, a home office policy and a 4.5-day working week.

“The resource we need is people,” Hidra says. “We need to nearly double our staff between now and 2025.” 

The future of cleantech 

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), green hydrogen is key to helping the world reach net zero emissions while supporting energy security.

In order for this to happen, the price of green hydrogen needs to drop. Due to the rapid development of the hydrogen industry, it's now forecast to cost less than $2 per kilogram as soon as 2040. 

Another thing that needs to shift is consumer attitudes toward hydrogen. Hidra spoke to Sifted from the Paris Motor Show, which featured a few hydrogen cars. 

“It really reminds me of seeing the first electric cars back in the early 2000s. People were very sceptical, and I still remember people saying that Tesla would go bust,” he laughs. 

Hidra thinks people’s minds still jump to the Hindenburg disaster when they think of hydrogen, and they imagine a blimp exploding. But actually, people have been driving hydrogen cars since Hyundai and Toyota introduced the first models in the mid-2000s. 

The craziest idea right now is to produce green hydrogen from solar panels in the middle of the desert and export it

Hydrogen is difficult to transport long distances unless a battery is used — and even then, cold weather can impact its lifespan. But when kept in large amounts, hydrogen can be stored physically and transported without being impacted by weather conditions. This could be one way to accelerate decarbonisation. 

According to Hidra: “The craziest idea right now is to produce green hydrogen from solar panels in the middle of the desert and export it.” 

On 23 November 2022, the first annual flagship Euronext Tech Leaders event will bring together the Euronext Tech Leaders community and other private European tech companies.