In honor of 51st anniversary of Earth Day, the ROI Team wanted to feature three fast-growth climate tech hubs and highlight a few of the companies making waves in the cleantech space.
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San Francisco is by far the biggest global hub of climate tech and dwarfs all other regions when it comes to VC funding.
Love it or hate it, Silicon Valley is the tech mecca of the world. It should come as no surprise that it is also the largest climate tech hub, with a diverse ecosystem of companies and nonprofits all jockeying to find solutions to the greatest problem of our time—climate change.
One term gaining notoriety in climate tech circles is geoengineering. Geoengineering, or as it is sometimes referred to, “climate engineering” or “planet-hacking” is the process of deliberate and large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climate system. Think about machines that suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, or aerosols sprayed from planes that partially reflect sunlight to offset the warming effect of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere.
Another idea being put forward is to use the oceans, rocks, and the power of waves to sequester carbon and relegate it to the depths. Project Vesta, a non-profit based in the Bay Area, is currently running small scale tests using a volcanic mineral olivine to absorb carbon dioxide. The hope is that crushing the olivine, spreading it on beaches, and letting the waves further pulverize the mineral into its constituent parts will speed up the natural process of how rocks sequester carbon, and offset anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere.
There is an inherent danger in believing that geoengineering is our silver bullet solution to climate change. If we do not address the root cause of climate change—the use of fossil fuels—geoengineering will become like a drug, and we will be the addicts.
If we rely solely on geoengineering as a solution to climate change, we will need to continuously increase our planet-hacking efforts, regardless of the costs. If we were to suddenly stop or interrupt these efforts, it could result in a catastrophic environmental disaster.
Many climatologists worry that the longer we struggle to develop a cohesive plan for a fair and equitable transition away from fossil fuels, geoengineering projects become more tempting. Fanciful ideas about planet hacking risk luring the public into a false sense of security that climate change is under control and that we have carte-blanche to continue dumping GHGs into the atmosphere with reckless abandon.
But the hard truth is, there is no magic solution to our climate change woes. It requires us to roll up our collective sleeves and work together like never before, with a unified goal of lowering our global GHG emissions. Geoengineering, to some extent, might be part of that solution, but it is not without risk and by no means ideal.
Shanghai is the second largest climate tech hub in terms of VC funding. China also produces more GHG emissions than any other country, and many Chinese cities suffer from poor air quality. Transportation is one of the largest sources of smog and GHG emissions in any country, so with a population of almost 1.4 billion, and rising car ownership rates, it should come as no surprise that China is investing heavily in the EV market.
China is selling enough electric vehicles (EVs) to make Elon Musk blush. According to Canalys, in 2020 a record 1.3 million EVs were sold in China. This represents 41% of global EV sales, just behind Europe at 42%. Meanwhile in the US, approximately 300,000 EVs were sold in 2020.
The battle for China’s EV market
One company making waves is state-owned SAIC Motor, China’s top automaker. Through a partnership with General Motors, and Liuzhou Wuling Motors, the Hong Guang Mini EV sold 119,255 units in 2020, coming in a close second place to Tesla’s Model 3 for the most EVs sold in China.
But in 2021, the Hong Guang Mini EV has taken the lead from the Tesla Model 3 as China’s best-selling EV.
By virtually any metric, the Tesla Model 3 outperforms the Hong Guang Mini EV when it comes to range, performance, and design. But the major difference is the price. A Model 3 costs around $38,000 USD, while a Hong Guang Mini EV costs $4,500. The huge difference in price makes Hong Guang Mini EV more accessible to regular citizens and if the sales continue, it could be a real game changer that pushes regular car owners to make the leap from traditional gas-powered cars to electric.
Bengaluru, located in the southern state of Karnataka, is known as the Silicon Valley of India. Like Silicon Valley in the US, Bengaluru is India’s leading climate tech hub—with a specialization in solar power technologies.
As India continues a massive infrastructure and electrification effort across the nation, the unique geography, the immense size of the country, and widespread poverty means that many remote communities are underserved or lacking electrical infrastructure entirely. For those who are connected to a larger grid, a lot of that power is coming from fossil fuels, with coal being the predominant source of energy at 71%.
Decentralized solar power technologies
India is making efforts to increase renewable energy production to feed their electrical grid but what about the remote villages and lower income citizens that are not connected?
Disconnected and remote villages are where decentralized solar power technologies have the most transformative potential and there is a new generation of Indian energy entrepreneurs looking to make that change a reality.
One of these enterprising energy entrepreneurs is Harish Hande, who cofounded SELCO, a company that provides decentralized solar power solutions to rural, semi-rural and urban poor communities.
Since many of the country’s poor are also the ones underserved by national power grids, being able to afford these solar power solutions poses a unique challenge. SELCO, and other companies like it, are getting around that challenge by persuading financing institutions to supply the upfront capital that can then be paid off over time. After the amount is paid, the end user, which can be a community, family, or individual, will own the infrastructure and have their basic energy needs met free of charge, courtesy of the sun.
Empowering people through electrical power
The electrical current running through our cities and towns does more than simply power our gadgets and appliances, it empowers us to do more.
Energy keeps the lights on that allow students to read at night. Energy connects us to the outside world by powering our devices. Energy saves lives by refrigerating food and medicines.
Energy makes our world a better place. On this Earth Day, we want to celebrate the amazing contributions of the climate tech entrepreneurs, policy makers, scientists, engineers, economists, and everyone else seeking to empower all world citizens with clean, affordable, and plentiful energy access.
Top Climate Tech Companies
We talked about some of the hottest climate tech hubs around the world but now let’s take a closer look at some of the fastest growing climate tech companies out there to help supercharge your green energy lead generation efforts.
Did you know: According to the Brookings Institute, many regions of the US that are the most heavily associated with oil and gas actually have some of highest potential for renewable energy power generation?
This data was taken from our AI-powered business intelligence platform, Gazelle.ai. Want more companies like this? Want us to help you target Climate Tech companies? Reach out to us today.
1. Scuter offers a Mobility as a Service (MaaS) solution based on an innovative electric smart ride-on scooter designed just for sharing.
2. Station A is the first AI-powered clean energy marketplace. With just a few clicks, our technology evaluates available clean energy solutions for your buildings, enables data-driven decisions, and sources the best offers from our provider network.
3. Power Ledger is the operating system for new energy markets enabling tracking and trading of energy, flexibility services and environmental commodities.
4. TransPod is designing ultra-high-speed transportation vehicles to travel at over 1000 km/h using fully electric propulsion to carry passengers and cargo.
5. Atmonia provides sustainable nitrogen fertilizer and electrochemical catalysis for ammonia production for on-site applications in precision agriculture.
6. Northvolt AB is a Swedish battery developer and manufacturer, specialized in lithium-ion technology for electric vehicles.
7. Otovo promises to make the selection, purchase, and installation of residential solar panels as easy as any online purchase.
8. The Water Council is a nonprofit organization dedicated to solving critical global water challenges by supporting innovation in freshwater technology and driving those new solutions to the industries that need them.
9. Novoloop’s breakthrough Accelerated Thermal Oxidative Decomposition (ATOD™) technology harvests plastic waste as a carbon-rich feedstock and stores them as performance materials with virgin qualities.
10. Puraffinity develops biologically derived materials for industrial water treatment.
11. H3 Dynamics is building the future of commercial drone services by combining machine learning, remote tele-robotics, and off-grid capability so that condition monitoring, security and safety solutions can be deployed anywhere, and managed from anywhere.
12. Genecis proprietary technology utilizes bacteria to convert food waste into PHA plastic, a biodegradable alternative to traditional plastics.
13. DroneSeed provides rapid reforestation after wildfires using drones. Six times faster than hand planting seedlings.
14. VoltSafe is a Canadian tech startup that has reinvented the pronged electrical plug with the first ever prong-less magnetic electrical plug for high power.
15. Sulapac aims to replace traditional plastic with a sustainable and fully biodegradable alternative.
16. Veregy is an industry leader made up of eight engineering and energy service companies bringing energy-efficient, smart building technology, and distributed energy solutions to our markets.
17. Bodle Technologies developed SRD® technology for a low-power display of vivid colours that don’t look washed out in bright conditions.
18. Turbulent offers resilient, cost-efficient hydroelectric turbines designed to power businesses, communities and inject energy into the grid.
19. WePower platform connects energy suppliers, corporate buyers and energy producers for easy, direct green energy transactions.
20. NuLeaf provides decentralized, all-natural wastewater treatment and recycling units that range from the size of a septic tank to modular units that treat industrial brewery wastewater.