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Felicity Bradstock

Felicity Bradstock

Felicity Bradstock is a freelance writer specialising in Energy and Finance. She has a Master’s in International Development from the University of Birmingham, UK.

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A Cleantech Boom Is Underway

  • Cleantech investment soars as Clean Energy Ventures secures a massive $305 million fund to target decarbonization solutions across various industries.
  • The fund prioritizes innovative clean technologies with the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including clean ammonia production, sustainable aviation fuel, and long-duration energy storage.
  • This investment surge highlights the growing relevance of cleantech investment as the energy transition continues.
Energy

There has been increasing interest and therefore greater investment in clean tech in recent years, as the U.S. strives to undergo a green transition. The Biden administration has pumped a huge amount of funding into the sector, which has encouraged significant private investment in clean tech. While a lot of this money is going to well-known tech companies, thousands of start-ups across the globe have emerged with their own green technology ideas. 

In May, the climate tech firm Clean Energy Ventures (CEV) announced it had raised $305 million in funding for clean tech projects. The firm had an initial target of $200 million but, following oversubscription, it expanded the fund. Funding partners include Carbon Equity, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, Builders Vision, and New Summit Investments. This comes five years after CEV closed its first fund, allocating $110 million to various cleantech companies. 

The company is exploring a range of clean tech beyond the traditional, looking at methods of industrial decarbonization.  Daniel Goldman, the co-founder and managing partner of CEV stated, “When you think about where do we need to have material impact, and where are sectors that technology really hasn’t changed for many, many decades, steel and cement rank at the top of the list. So, we think there’s a huge opportunity there.” He also emphasized the need to invest in bioplastics and plastics recycling, as well as grid-improving technologies for distributed energy, including virtual power plants. 

CEV used its first fund to support 20 companies, which is expected to help mitigate over 50 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. To date, none of the companies that received money from the first fund have gone public, but there has been interest in potential acquisitions. This time round CEV hopes to invest in a wide range of companies and has already announced six firms that will receive funding. It will be investing in Israel-based green ammonia company Nitrofix, the U.K.-based sustainable aviation fuel company OXCCU, battery storage company Noon Energy, and compressor technology firm Evari, as well as several others that have yet to be named. CEV plans to open an office in London, which it hopes will open doors to the European clean tech market. 

Through the fund, CEV has been successful in helping cleantech start-ups attract more private investment to produce technology that they would not otherwise be able to afford. Showing the right people a first-of-a-kind demonstration piece can help these start-ups gain the funding needed to scale operations and test their technology. CEV co-founder and managing partner David Miller stated, “We are eager to seize this next chapter in our firm’s growth with our second fund and support more early-stage companies with deeply technical, game-changing approaches to decarbonisation.”

Nitrofix, which announced $3.1 million in seed financing in July 2023, is aiming to clean up ammonia production. The Israeli company believes it has invented a revolutionary technology capable of producing ammonia directly from electricity, nitrogen gas, and water through a one-step electrochemical process. The process can be powered using renewable energy and operates at low temperatures and pressures. It does not require hydrogen gas as a feedstock, which will decrease the need for highly sought-after green hydrogen as well as simplify the process. 

At present, carbon emissions from ammonia production contribute around two percent of global emissions. If successful, Nitrofix’s technology could help decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors, from maritime shipping to freight transportation. This is extremely important as experts believe that the ammonia market could grow at a rate of around five percent per year between now and 2050. 

In November 2023, the British company OXCCU announced it had raised almost $3.6 million to transform carbon dioxide into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The company aims to directly convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen to produce SAF, which would reduce the existing multi-step process to just a single step. It will feed biogenic CO2 – captured from biomass combustion – and H2 – produced on-site via electrolysis using green electricity – into a reactor to power the process. OXCCU is running the project at the University of Sheffield Translational Energy Research Centre (TERC). 

Meanwhile, Noon Energy raised $28 million last year to scale its innovative carbon-oxygen battery to achieve sustainable long-duration energy storage. The Noon technology does not store energy in metals, unlike lithium-ion and other existing batteries, rather, it stores energy in carbon and oxygen using nature-based chemistry principles. If successful, this could reduce the need to source hard-to-mine metals, including lithium and cobalt, thereby lessening the impact on the environment. The CEV funding is expected to help Noon and other companies scale their operations to develop a variety of clean technologies that could be key to achieving a global green transition. More allocations of CEV funding are expected to be announced in the coming months.

By Felicity Bradstock for Oilprice.com

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