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Electrified - Issue 49
The Hard Truths
We’re back after taking election week off. This week’s edition is decidedly void of all anything to do with climate and the election. I’m sure you’ve had your fill of that context and we’ll have several opportunities to discuss it down the road. For now, let’s take a breather from politics.
We are in the midst of the largest energy transformation of our lifetimes. Over the last few weeks, the majority of guests on Electrified have mentioned the importance of equality in energy.
Climate change is already affecting the planet, increasing the likelihood or intensity of events like floods, heatwaves, and drought, and inflicting billions of dollars worth of damage. But climate change does not affect everyone equally.
The topic surfaced again this week when the city of San Francisco announced a ban on natural gas for all new buildings. The move sparked intense debate around the pros and cons of the new policy. Obviously, it is a win for us in the energy transition, but for a lot of the world natural gas is still a cheap, reliable source of energy rather we want to admit it or not.
However, we should be acutely aware that some of the progress we push for unfairly punishes those who are most vulnerable.
This issue isn’t just confined to developed nations. Africa and India are home to over two billion people. They face the worst impacts of climate change like extreme weather, drought, and heat, yet they aren’t the culprits.
To increase resiliency, they will need to build more infrastructure and new irrigation for their agriculture. To survive soaring temperatures, they will need cold storage and ACs in hundreds of millions of homes, offices, warehouses, factories, and data centers.
These are all energy-intensive activities. It’s hypocritical to deny them the capacity for adaptation and the cheap growth that we’ve enjoyed for the last century.
In the western world, we should be aiming for innovation to lower the cost and emissions intensity of energy consumption so that economics like Africa and India don’t have to make the choice between prosperity and emissions.
We’ve seen this same scenario play out over the last few decades in a tangent industry. Telecom left poor rural and urban areas behind at the start of the internet age. It’s a gap that still exists today. We should aim to prevent this within the energy transition.
However, we’re designing power markets that reward EV, solar, and storage owners and penalize those who can’t afford those luxuries all while building power plants in the poorest neighborhoods.
Moving forward, we must ensure that access to clean energy is ubiquitous and on equal footing for all. The energy transition is a noble mission, but we can and must be aware of the traps that await us as we try to power the whole world cleanly.
2010 was a time when U.S. venture capital firms were on the lookout for cleantech targets. Early that year, GTM published a list of 50 venture-capital-funded cleantech startups in areas ranging from solar to water technology “that have at least a fighting chance of succeeding.”
So where are they now? After 10 years, many of the names on the list are still familiar — and not always for good reasons.
Using state and federal highway ROWs for transmission accomplishes "two critical objectives," Putnam said. It "accelerates deployment" and it "prepares the system for transportation electrification so that in five years we are not waiting for upgrades to serve the growing load."
This is part of a broader pattern. Over the past two decades, China has dominated the clean energy sector but has struggled to break through in other advanced technological industries, from artificial intelligence to 3D printing.
Why the difference between these other sectors and clean energy?
Recent Investment Activity
KINETIC, a maker of wearable technology for safety in industrial workforces, raised $11.3 million in Series A funding. Primary Ventures and Crosslink Capital led the round.
Envoy Technologies, a Culver City, Calif.-based, provider of electric vehicle-sharing services, raised $11 million in Series A funding. Shell Ventures and Building Ventures led the round.
Polestar, a 24-year-old, Gothenburg, Sweden-based electric vehicle maker, is in talks to raise $500 million from investors at a $6 billion valuation, says Bloomberg.
Angaza—a software provider that enables solar power device makers and distributors offer pay-as-you-go consumer services, has raised $13.5M in a Series B funding round led by KawiSafi Ventures, an East Africa-based energy impact fund, with participation from Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures. Existing investors including Ajax Strategies, Emerson Collective, Rethink Impact, and Salesforce Ventures also participated in the round.
Solar cell startup, SunDrive secures $8M in Series A funding. The deal combines $5M from Blackbird Ventures and Grok Ventures (amongst others) with $3M via a grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
Ways2H, a Long Beach, CA-based developer of solutions that converts waste into hydrogen fuel for mobility, microgrids and power generation, raised $2.5M led by Pacific6 Enterprises.
Skeleton Technologies, an 11-year-old, Tallinn, Estonia-based cleantech company that manufacturers ultracapacitor-based energy storage, just raised €41.3 million in funding from all of its earlier backers, who were joined by unnamed angel investors. Past investors in the company include Harju Elekter Group, UP Invest, and Firstfloor Capital, among others.
Nuuve, a San Diego-based developer of electric vehicle-to-grid projects, agreed to go public via a reverse merger with Newborn Acquisition Corp.
Blackstone has agreed to acquire Therma, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of energy efficiency services, from Gemspring Capital. Blackstone also acquired RE Tech Advisors, an energy and sustainability consulting firm, to be combined with Therma. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
Baker Hughes (NYSE: BKR) agreed to buy Dutch carbon capture company Compact Carbon Capture.
What I’m thinking about
“If you wish to persuade, appeal to interest not to reason” - Benjamin Franklin
See you next weekend,