Weekly roundup 12/24/2023

Hi there,

Happy holidays! Last roundup of the year! We’ll take next Sunday (New Year’s eve) off.

If you miss my musings, you can a) look forward to Thursday, when we’ll summarize our favorite content from the year, b) listen to our latest podcast here, c) read last week’s 4,000 word ‘year in review’ piece (sorry).

In today’s email:

  • Top 5 deals and headlines from the week

  • More climate tech fundraising announcements 

  • More climate tech and energy headlines

DEALS IN FOCUS

I took the liberty of keeping this shorter today, given it's Christmas Eve. Here were the five most noteworthy deals and headlines from my vantage point this week:

Electrification: Nio, a major EV manufacturer and battery-swapping proponent based out of China, raised an eye-watering $2.2B from Abu Dhabi-backed CYVN Holdings, which will take a 20% stake in the company. 

Energy storage: Form Energy received $30M from the California Energy Commission to build a 5 MW/500 MWh iron-air battery storage project in Mendocino County, which would be one of the largest long-duration energy storage facilities in the state (and country). Form Energy aims to energize the project by the end of 2025.

Hydrogen: The Biden admin released long-awaited guidance for a new hydrogen tax credit this week, establishing stringent requirements for producers to qualify for the $3 / kg credit. Hydrogen producers must satisfy three key criteria to qualify, as follows: 1) Electrolyzers must be powered by low-carbon sources; 2) the low-carbon electricity must stem from additional capacity, i.e., it can't simply be diverted from an existing source that could power the grid; 3) evidence of low-carbon electricity use must be established based on 'hourly matching' (more on that here.)

Super polluters: Cummins, a prominent American manufacturer of engines, filtration, and power generation systems, will have to pay close to $1.7B to settle claims that it violated the Clean Air Act. The United States and the State of California accused Cummins of installing emissions defeat devices on more than 100,000 engines used on Ram pickup trucks for model years 2013 to 2019. The penalty represents the "largest civil penalty … ever secured under the Clean Air Act, and the second largest environmental penalty ever."

Trending in the wrong direction: SunPower, a major U.S. home solar, storage, and EV charging provider, issued a going concern notice this week, noting it breached a credit agreement. The company's shares dropped as much as 40% on the news on Monday. Elsewhere, Bird Global, the scooter company that flooded cities with electric scooters, also (finally) declared bankruptcy (after raising $600M+ in venture capital over the years), and Enphase Energy, a U.S.-based micro inverter manufacturer and supplier, announced it will cut its global workforce by ~10%.

DEAL HEAT

Large funding rounds

🔌 Nio, based out of Shanghai, raised $2.2B from Abu Dhabi-backed fund CYVN Holdings, which will take a 20% stake in the company. More here. (China, Transportation)

Octopus Energy, based out of London, raised $800M for its renewable energy and cleantech hardware manufacturing business from existing investors, including Origin Energy, Tokyo Gas, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and Generation Investment Management. More here. (U.K., Energy)

Medium-sized funding rounds

🌱 NewLeaf Symbiotics, based out of Creve Coeur, MO, raised $45M in Series D funding to make pink-pigmented facultative methylotrophs (PPFMs). These microorganisms can serve as an agricultural amendment to promote plants’ nutrient uptake and resilience. Re:food led. More here. (U.S., Food & Agriculture)

🧂 Sweetch Energy, based out of Rennes, France, raised ~$27.5M in Series A funding for what it calls ‘osmotic energy,’ i.e., using the difference in the salinity between seawater and river water to generate electricity via membranes and osmosis. Révolution Environnementale et Solidaire led. More here. (France, Energy)

🧑‍🌾 Agtonomy, based out of San Francisco, raised $22.5M in Series A funding for its software and hardware solutions that help farmers retrofit tractors for autonomous operation. Momenta led. More here. (U.S., Food & Agriculture)

🏍️ Ampersand, based out of Kigali, Rwanda, raised $19.5M for its battery-swapping technology for motorcycles. Ecosystem Integrity Fund led. More here. (Rwanda, Transportation)

🌞 Solar Duck, based out of Nijmegen, Netherlands, raised ~$16.5M in equity funding for its offshore floating solar power technology. Katapult Ocean, Green Tower, Energy Transition Fund Rotterdam, and Invest-NL invested. More here. (Netherlands, Energy)

🪵 Lingrove, based out of San Francisco, raised $10M in Series B funding for ‘carbon-negative’ wood veneer alternatives made out of flax fiber and plant-based resins. Lewis & Clark Agrifood and Diamond Edge Ventures led. More here. (U.S., Materials)

Smaller funding rounds

✈️ Aether Fuels, based out of San Francisco, raised $8.5M in convertible note / Pre-Series A funding to make alternative, sustainable fuels for aviation and maritime applications. JetBlue Ventures, TechEnergy Ventures, and others invested. More here. (U.S., Transportation)

Green Eagle Solutions, based out of Madrid, raised ~$6.6M in Series A funding for its automation software solutions for renewable energy. A&G led. More here. (Spain, Energy)

💳 Future, based out of Silver Spring, MD, raised $6.5M in equity funding for its debit card that rewards users for making low-carbon, eco-friendly purchases. The company also acquired a startup, Fan Rewards, to expand its rewards platform. More here. (U.S., Climate Fintech)

⚔️ Salvador Technologies, based out of Rehovot, Israel, raised $6M in seed funding to help critical infrastructure operators recover from cyberattacks and malfunctions. Pico Venture Partners led. More here. (Israel, Energy)

📦 Cloudline, based out of Cape Town, South Africa, raised $6M in seed funding to make emissions-free and autonomous airships for cargo transportation in Africa. Schmidt Futures, 4Di, and others participated. More here. (South Africa, Transportation)

📊 DTE, based out of Reykjavik, Iceland, raised $6M in extended Series A2 funding for its energy use optimization software for commercial and industrial buildings. Eyrir Vöxtur and EIC Fund invested. More here. (Iceland, Energy)

⬇️ Standard Biocarbon, based out of Portland, ME, raised $5M in equity funding to make biochar. Nexus Development Capital led. More here. (U.S., Carbon Removal)

🔋 BatX Energies, based out of Gurgaon, India, raised $5M in equity funding for its lithium-ion battery recycling business. Zephyr Peacock and Lets Venture led. More here. (India, Industry)

💨 Vectoflow, based out of Gilching, Germany, raised ~$4.4M in equity funding to make advanced 3D-printed flow measurement systems and air data systems for wind energy, aviation, and other sectors. Bayern Kapital, WN Invest, and others invested. More here. (Germany, Industry)

Suena, based out of Hamburg, Germany, raised ~$3.3M in seed funding to offer power trading as a service for distributed energy resources. Santander InnoEnergy Climate Fund led. More here. (Germany, Energy)

📊 Helin, based out of Rijswijk, Netherlands, raised ~$3.3M in seed funding for its industrial edge intelligence platform, which helps maritime and energy companies optimize management of industrial devices. FORWARD.one led. More here. (Netherlands, Industry)

♻️ TômTex, based out of Brooklyn, raised ~$2.3M in seed funding for its sustainable biomaterials. Its founder, Uyen Tran, led. More here. (U.S., Materials)

📊 Zeroe, based out of the UAE, raised $2.2M in seed funding for its carbon management platform that helps companies measure emissions and report on their decarbonization performance. Owen Rahadiyna, an Indonesian investor, led. More here. (UAE, Climate Data Management)

🏗️ 4QT, based out of Zurich, Switzerland, raised ~$2.2M in pre-seed funding to electrify heavy machinery and construction equipment. Unruly Capital led. More here. (Switzerland, Industry)

📊 Gentian, based out of London, raised $1.6M in pre-seed funding for its biodiversity monitoring software. Ecolab, Techstars, Blu Venture Investors, and others invested. More here. (U.K., Biodiversity)

🔋 Cling, based out of Stockholm, raised $1.3M in bridge funding for its battery recycling business. Trucks VC and First Ventures invested. More here. (Sweden, Industry)

🚙 Munro Vehicles, based out of Glasgow, Scotland, raised an additional ~$1.3M from Elbow Beach Capital to make electric SUVs. More here. (Scotland, Transportation)

🚜 Chipotle made undisclosed investments in Cheney, KS-based Greenfield Robotics, a developer of robots for farms, and San Francisco-based Nitricity, which makes more sustainable fertilizers. More here. (U.S., Food & Agriculture)

Powerside, based out of Alameda, CA, raised an undisclosed amount of growth funding from Energy Growth Momentum to help companies measure and manage power quality challenges. More here. (U.S., Energy)

Other funding rounds

In private equity funding: 

⬇️ Entropy, based out of Calgary, raised $200M from Brookfield Asset Management and Canada Growth Fund Inc. for its carbon capture and sequestration project portfolio. Specifically, the deal’s structure includes “a fixed-price carbon credit purchase agreement of up to one million tonnes per annum.” More here. (Canada, Carbon Markets)

In acquisitions:

🔩 Nippon Steel, a Japanese steel manufacturing conglomerate, will acquire Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel for close to $15B. These aren’t ‘climate tech’ companies by any stretch of the imagination, but whether, when, and how they decarbonize is essential progress for the broader climate industry to track. More here. (International, Industry)

🌬️ Infroneer, a construction company, will acquire wind farm developer Japan Wind Development from Bain Capital for ~$1.4B. More here (paywall). (Japan, Energy)

In grant funding:

🔋 Form Energy, based out of Berkeley, CA, received $30M from the California Energy Commission to build a 5 MW/500 MWh iron-air battery storage project, which would be one of the largest long-duration energy storage facilities in the state so far in Mendocino County. Form Energy aims to energize the project by the end of 2025. More here. (U.S., Energy)

New funds

💰 Cambia Capital, based out of Salt Lake City, UT, launched with $20M in capital to invest in sustainability-focused real estate. More here. (U.S., Built Environment)

ELSEWHERE IN CLIMATE AND CLIMATE TECH

🔋 LDES deployment: Form Energy received $30M from the California Energy Commission to build a 5 MW/500 MWh iron-air battery storage project, which would be one of the largest long-duration energy storage facilities in the state so far in Mendocino County. Form Energy aims to energize the project by the end of 2025.

💦 Hydrogen rules: The Biden admin released long-awaited guidance for a new hydrogen tax credit this week, establishing stringent requirements for producers to qualify for a new $3 per kg of hydrogen tax credit. Hydrogen producers must satisfy three key criteria to qualify, including that electrolyzers must be powered by low-carbon sources; the low-carbon electricity must stem from additional capacity, i.e., it can't simply be diverted from an existing source that could power the grid; evidence of low-carbon electricity use must be established based on 'hourly matching' (more on that here.)

📜 Policy: Canada will require all new car sales to be "zero-emission" by 2035, copying policy that's proliferated from California to other states, the EU, and beyond.

Elsewhere, the U.K. will introduce a carbon border tax in 2027 for imports of iron, steel, aluminum, ceramics, and cement. The tax applied will depend on the amount of carbon emitted in production and the delta between the U.K.'s carbon price and any carbon price in the product's country of origin.

💨 Super polluters: Cummins, a prominent American manufacturer of engines, filtration, and power generation systems, will have to pay close to $1.7B to settle claims that it violated the Clean Air Act. The United States and the State of California accused Cummins of installing emissions defeat devices on more than 100,000 engines used on Ram pickup trucks for model years 2013 to 2019. The penalty represents the "largest civil penalty … ever secured under the Clean Air Act, and the second largest environmental penalty ever."

📉 Not all roses: SunPower, a major U.S. home solar, storage, and EV charging provider, issued a going concern notice this week, noting it breached a credit agreement. The company's shares dropped as much as 40% on the news on Monday. 

Elsewhere, Bird Global, the scooter company that flooded cities with electric scooters, also (finally) declared bankruptcy, and Enphase Energy, a U.S.-based micro inverter manufacturer and supplier, announced it will cut its global workforce by ~10%.

🚫 so good news: New York City's Local Law 97 placed limits on how much greenhouse gas buildings larger than 25,000 square feet could emit. It also mandated city government operations reduce their emissions faster than private properties, including by 40% by fiscal year 2025. New York City officials now admit they're not on track to achieve or enforce Local Law 97 by 2025, saying they've achieved roughly 25% emissions reductions so far but won't make it to 40% by next year.

🌞 Closing on good news: Hanwha Q Cells posted updates on its progress on a solar wafer manufacturing complex that it’s building in Georgia. It’s the only solar wafer plant currently under construction in the U.S.; Hanwha invested $2.5B earlier this year to both expand its Dalton, Georgia solar plant and to build the new plant near Atlanta.

Cheers from Lucy and the California coast,

– Nick

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