The evolution of Keep Cool

Hi there,

There’s exciting and evolving news about Keep Cool in this newsletter. Take the time to read it, if you’ll allow me to ask that of you. tl;dr’s included throughout.

tl;dr #1 is: a) the newsletter isn’t going anywhere b) it’s going to get even better c) there may be a touch of ~wonkiness~ during its transformation.

I’ll expand on all this in the first section. After that, as always, we’ll round up the deals and announcements from climate tech and energy this week.

In today’s email:

  • Keeping cool while Keep Cool transforms

  • Climate tech fundraising announcements 

  • Climate tech and energy headlines

AHEM, AN ANNOUNCEMENT!

Bear with me here. Things might get messy, at least for a bit. I’ll cut to the chase to start: Keep Cool is no longer part of Workweek.

I won’t obfuscate, mask, or mince words here – I got laid off!

But that’s OK. Good in many ways, even. First and foremost, I own 100% of the Keep Cool brand and content again. I get to make it exactly what I want and get to take 100% responsibility for making it great.

Make no mistake, this isn’t happening because Workweek or I believe that Keep Cool isn’t a stellar offering for the world. The monetization just wasn’t happening. That was Workweek’s job, not mine. So I understand that given that they couldn’t crack the ‘how do we make money on this’ nut, they needed to move on. Media is a ‘widow-maker’ of a business.

Workweek is a stellar organization. I have immense gratitude for its co-founders, Adam and Becca, and to many other people I worked with (shout-out Alex, Anton, Anushka, Ashley, Ben, Blake, Brett, Hebba, Lindsey, Nicole) for helping me build this brand.

Keep Cool has grown from ~1,000 to ~20,000 readers over two years. We’ve illuminated many meaningful climate conversations. I’ve learned a ton, and hopefully, you have too.

Workweek also gave me a vote of confidence in my abilities as an analyst, synthesizer, and, most importantly, writer and storyteller. Ultimately, we only ever need our own permission to follow our passions in this life. Still, sometimes it helps to have someone else’s.

What happens now?

We keep going! As you can tell, the format of this newsletter has changed. I was also a day late in sending it. I’m working through migrating my email management system from Sailthru onto beehiiv. beehiiv seems awesome so far. 

This is where the mess may come in. Things might be clunky for a bit as I figure this all out.

At the most basic level, this email might have landed in your spam folder. It’s coming from a different address. Some of you may miss it as a result, but, I guess, you wouldn’t be reading this (at least not ‘till later), if that’s true.

Some of this will be annoying. Maybe somewhat for you. Certainly, for me. 

But there’s beauty in that. Not in the annoyance, to be sure, but in the mess. In embracing it. In rolling around in it a little bit, like a pig who relishes rolling around in the mud.

How to help

The most impactful things you can do if you feel inspired to help are:

  • Stay the course: Open, read, and respond to these newsletters

  • Help us grow! Forward this to folks in your network who may not read yet and tell current readers this newsletter might have landed in spam. If you feel inspired, promote on social, too. Here’s our landing page.

  • Tell us how we’re doing: I’ll always welcome your honest feedback.

The perch in Boulder where I had the fortune to ponder this last week.

How I feel

I grew up in Silicon Valley, literally in the shadow of Google HQ. As a result (and for a myriad other reasons), I’ve always felt immense pressure to present myself immaculately to the world.

I still, at this moment, writing this right now, tell myself the story that I have to be perfect to earn a living (my security), to have an audience to see me and listen to me (my community), and frankly, to receive love. The fear of losing control over any or all of that, of presenting myself less than perfectly, is terrifying. 

But it doesn’t always have to feel that way. For me. Or for you if you resonate with that. Over the same two-year timeframe during which Keep Cool was part of Workweek, I’ve found amazing paths and community – both inside climate tech circles and outside of them – that has helped me get more comfortable in, well? Discomfort. In ambiguity. In mess.

This all ties back to climate tech (*I promise*). Allow me to practice my craft here for a moment, namely, to weave, to connect the dots. So much of climate change, the energy transition, decarbonization, and all the ensuant work required is a barely lit path. It’s messy. It’s uncomfortable (and frightening). There’s an incredible amount of ambiguity and stickiness in it. There’s anger, confusion, doubt, and suffering. 

The same is true of all the other challenges we encounter every day. In our jobs, relationships, in our physical bodies. We’re all stumbling along, at least some of the time. We fall. We get lost. We feel separated, stranded, alone.

We often forget, though, when we stumble, when we walk the barely lit path, that we’re doing it together. We (especially I) often underestimate the grace, spaciousness, and understanding others have the capacity, not to mention the desire, to afford us when we struggle and stumble.

So, first of all, thank you for being here. For reading this far. In this edition of this newsletter. Over the course of the past two years. 

In response to this news, you may feel like saying, “I’m sorry.” Thank you, and you may. But I don’t need you to. What’s happening is perfect. My life has improved immeasurably every time I’ve pulled my dreams, day-to-day work, habits, relationships, thought patterns, and the rest of my life into even 0.1% greater alignment with what brings me the most creativity, flow, and joy.

Building and growing Keep Cool in concert with Workweek was fantastic. And, it was still only ~80% aligned with what I want and know the brand and its offerings can and should look like.

Now I get to shepherd Keep Cool towards greater harmony as best as I know how. Responsible to no one but a) myself, b) you, my readers, and c) being in service of Mother Earth and all beings.

What I will ask for, especially as there may be parts of the newsletter that are imperfect over the coming weeks, is to grant me a little grace. I ask because a) I’ll need it and b) because I have often found it nigh impossible to ask for the things I want and need. From anyone. I need to practice.

Here’s to more practice on the things we find hard. And to more coverage of the things that are hard in climate tech and energy. 

A few more logistics

  • Audio: I will be pausing the podcast for a moment. If you recorded a pod with me recently, don’t worry; it will come to life still.

  • Content archive: Eventually, I will migrate all past content to a new website. It will look 10x better than the old blog (no offense, Workweek). For now, if you want access to an old piece, let me know.

  • Getting a hold of me: The best place to contact me now is [email protected]. You can also respond directly to these emails. I had emails at [email protected] and [email protected] that I no longer have access to.

If you’re interested in catching up, exploring collaboration, or have other ideas, suggestions, and words of encouragement, it’s all welcome.

The net-net (tl;dr)

I own Keep Cool. Again. I’m navigating everything else that all this means. This is profoundly exciting; I feel more creative already. 

Everything I’ve said today is true of climate work. Of living in this world. In every moment, there’s an invitation to stay humble, agile, curious, and open-minded as we navigate climate change, all its cascading impacts, and how we live our lives in relationship to one another, all beings, and Mother Earth.

That’s the ethos I want this newsletter to embody. I hope it already does. Thanks for reading, thanks for listening, thanks for seeing me. I appreciate you.

DEAL HEAT

Large funding rounds

🚌 May Mobility, based out of Ann Arbor, MI, raised $105M in Series D funding to develop autonomous vehicle systems for municipalities and businesses. NTT Group led. More here (paywall). (U.S., Transportation)

Medium-sized funding rounds

🔁 Refurbed, based out of Vienna, raised $57M in Series C funding for its marketplace for refurbished and upgraded electronics. Evli Growth Partners and C4 Group co-led. More here. (Austria, Industry)

🧲 Niron Magnetics, based out of Minneapolis, MN, raised $33M to make rare earth-free magnets for EVs from GM Ventures, Stellantis Ventures, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the University of Minnesota, and others. More here. (U.S., Industry)

🔋 Princeton NuEnergy, based out of Bordertown, NJ, raised $16M in Series A funding for its lithium-ion battery material recycling business. Wistron group led. More here. (U.S., Materials)

🔌 Euler Motors, based out of New Delhi, India, raised $14M in extended Series C funding for its three-wheel EV manufacturing business. British International Investment led. More here. (India, Transportation)

🧲 Frenetic, based out of Madrid, raised ~$12M in Series A funding to manufacture custom high-frequency magnetic components for a myriad of devices that require power. Kibo Ventures led. More here. (Spain, Industry)

📦 Fibmold, based out of Mumbai, raised $10M in equity funding for its sustainable packaging business. Omnivore and Accel led. More here. (India, Materials)

Smaller funding rounds

📦 Raiku, based out of Tallinn, Estonia, raised ~$9.4M in grant and equity funding for its sustainable packaging business. The European Innovation Council led. More here. (Estonia, Materials)

🚲 Ridepanda, based out of San Francisco, raised $7.5M in seed funding across both equity and debt to help corporations offer employees subsidized e-bike/scooter subscriptions as part of their work benefits. Blackhorn Ventures and Yamaha Motor Ventures led. More here. (U.S., Transportation)

🦠 Bioomix, based out of Odense, Denmark, raised ~$6.75M to develop microbes for sustainable farming and agriculture. West Hill Capital led. More here. (Denmark, Food & Agriculture)

🧀 Dreamfarm, based out of Parma, Italy, raised ~$5.3M in pre-seed funding from angel investors to make plant-based mozzarella. More here. (Italy, Food & Agriculture)

↩️ ReturnGO, based out of Tel Aviv, Israel, raised $4.8M in extended seed funding for its “post-purchase operating system” that aims to make the reverse logistics process for online retailers more efficient. Trestle Partners has led the comprehensive seed round, which now totals $11.3M. More here. (Israel, Industry)

 👕 Octarine Bio, based out of Copenhagen, Denmark raised ~$4.6M in Series A funding to make sustainable dyes. Unconventional Ventures, Óskare Capital, The Footprint Firm, and DSM Venturing participated. More here. (Denmark, Industry)

🪨 InPlanet, based out of Germany and Brazil, raised ~$4.6M in seed funding for its mission to spread enhanced rock weathering carbon removal techniques to the tropics. FoodLabs and Salvia led. More here. (Germany / Brazil, Carbon Removal)

🔩 SpinDrive, based out of Lappeenranta, Finland, raised ~$4M in Series A funding for its frictionless magnetic bearing technology, which could have applications across a variety of industrial applications that rely on integrated bearing technologies. Rhapsody Venture Partners led. More here. (Finland, Industry)

🌞 Coperniq, based out of San Diego, CA, raised $4M in seed funding for its “end-to-end operations & service platform for solar companies.” More here. (U.S., Energy)

🌱 Lucent Bio, based out of Vancouver, Canada, raised $3.6M from PacifiCan via its business scale-up and productivity program for its biodegradable and micro-plastic free seed coating designed to promote readier germination and crop resilience. More here. (Canada, Food & Agriculture) 

🌞 Ensol, based out of Paris, raised ~$3.2M in equity funding from Otium Capital to manufacture solar photovoltaic equipment. More here. (Paris, Energy)

💸 Pioneer, based out of San Francisco, raised $2.9M in seed funding to help climate companies track down government funding track and access government funding opportunities. Blue Bear Capital led. More here. (U.S., Financing)

🚲 Clip, based out of Brooklyn, raised $2.8M in seed funding to convert conventional bicycles into e-bikes. More here. (U.S., Transformation)

🔋 Tiger New Energy, based out of Bangladesh, raised $2.5M in seed funding for its battery-swapping technology targeted at two and three-wheeled EVs. Wavemaker Partners led. More here. (Bangladesh, Transportation)

⬇️ Phantm, based out of Cremore, Australia, raised $2M in seed funding to help businesses use less plastic. Blacknova VC, Salus Ventures, and CoVenture VC all led. More here. (Australia, Industry)

🏠 Boldr, based out of London, U.K., raised $1M in venture funding to make connected hardware and software to help people reduce their energy bills and balance the grid. FP Solutions led. More here. (U.K., Energy / Built Environment) 

Other funding rounds

⚛️ Westinghouse Electric, a nuclear power company based out of Pittsburgh, PA, was officially acquired by Brookfield Renewable Partners and Cameco, a Saskatoon, Canada-based uranium fuel supplier (and one of my proudest, top-performing public equity investments), for $7.9B. More here. (U.S. / Canada, Energy)

🚗 Hyundai Mobis, an auto parts division of Seoul-based Hyundai Motor Group, raised $940M in 'green' debt financing from seven institutional investors to build plants to manufacture electric equipment and make EVs in the U.S. More here. (U.S., Industry)

⬇️ BlackRock, based out of New York City, invested $550M in one of Occidental Petroleum and 1PointFive's "Stratos" direct air capture project, which is being built in Ector County, Texas. BlackRock will form a joint venture with 1PointFive to own the plant, which aims to capture 500,000 tons of CO2 annually, with commercial operations slated to begin in 2025. More here. (U.S., Carbon Removal)

🛞 Carbon Revolution, based out of Melbourne, Australia, raised $70M from Orion Infrastructure Capital for its lightweight advanced technology carbon fiber wheels. More here. (Australia, Industry)

⬇️ Skytree, based out of Amsterdam, raised $2.7M in grant funding from the European Innovation Council Accelerator for its carbon capture and re-utilization technologies. More here. (Netherlands, Carbon Management)

♻️ Bower, based out of Stockholm, Sweden, raised $1.8M in grant funding for its mobile app that rewards consumer recycling. Google's Impact Challenge: Tech for Social Good initiative provided the grant and Bower will join a fellowship program in 2024 to work with full-time Google employees to develop their app further. More here. (Sweden, Materials)

💸 The five winners of this year's Prince William's Earthshot Prize will all receive ~$1.2M in grant funding. More here. The winners include: 

🔋 GRST, based out of Hong Kong, runs a lithium-ion batteries recycling technology and business. (Hong Kong, Industry)

🐟 WildAid Marine Program, based out of San Francisco, aims to scale marine enforcement on illegal fishing. (U.S., Conservation)

🍌 S4S Technologies, based out of Maharashtra, India, builds technologies and systems to mitigate and process food waste. (India, Food & Agriculture)

🌳 Acción Andina, based out of Cusco, Peru, is building a community-based initiative to promote ecosystem conservation in the Andean forest. (Peru, Biodiversity)

‎‍🌾 Boomitra, based out of San Mateo, CA, "uses satellite and AI technology to measure, report, and verify soil carbon credits across the globe." (U.S., Carbon Markets)

New funds

💵 KKR, based out of New York City, raised $2.8B for its second global impact fund, with which it will focus on investing in companies that "contribute measurable progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals." More here. (U.S., Funds)

💰 Bison Ventures, based out of Seattle, raised $135M for a debut fund to invest in climate and biotech companies between seed and Series B. More here. (U.S., Funds)

ELSEWHERE IN CLIMATE AND CLIMATE TECH

🏭 Onshoring: Siemens announced it will invest $150M in a manufacturing plant in Dallas to produce electrical equipment for data centers, batteries, semiconductors, EV charging infrastructure, and rail transport. 

Elsewhere, analysts anticipate GM will invest up to $13B in its U.S. manufacturing presence over the next four years to satisfy the terms of its tentative agreement with the UAW. A substantial portion of that will go toward retooling and expanding factories to produce EVs.

🎀 Ribbon-cutting: Heirloom unveiled its first (and the U.S.'s first) commercial direct air capture facility this week in Tracy, California.

The facility has the capacity to remove 1,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere annually and is powered by 100% renewable energy to make the net-negative CO2 math pencil. 

Lithos Energy also opened a 65,000-square-foot factory in Hayward, California, to produce lithium-ion battery systems.

🔌 Electrification, beyond cars: A 100% electric container ship made its maiden voyage in China this week. It features a 50MWh battery pack and features battery-swapping technology.

⚡ Green H2: H2B2 Electrolysis Technologies unveiled its SoHyCal facility this week, which is the largest operational green hydrogen production plant in North America that's powered entirely by renewable energy. The company expects to produce 3 tons of green H2 daily, powered by photovoltaics, by Q2 of 2024.

⬇️ Industrial decarb: Ohio-based Cleveland-Cliffs, an iron and steel manufacturer, has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by approximately one-third since 2017 by transitioning to direct reduction in its iron manufacturing.

In direct reduction, non-coking coal or natural gas is used as a reducing agent to remove oxygen from iron ore, as opposed to using coking coal as a source of carbon and reducing agent. The DOE recognized the company's efforts as a "2023 Goal Achiever" as part of the agency's Better Climate Challenge.

🔩 Federal procurement: The U.S. General Services Administration launched a $2B federal effort to procure 'low-embodied carbon' steel, concrete, glass, and other sustainable materials and products for over 150 federal building construction projects. 

📜 Policy: Michigan passed legislation that will require 100% of the state's electricity to come from low-carbon sources by 2040. By 2034, 60% of the state's electricity must come from wind, solar, other renewable sources, or any of the above combined with batteries. The other 40% can come from nuclear power or natural gas with carbon capture. New York, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Oregon also have similar mandates.

The Biden administration will also soon announce $16B in federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to improve public rail transportation in the Northeast along the Amtrak rail corridor. 

📉 Not all roses: NuScale, a Bill Gates-backed small modular reactor developer, lost its primary client as the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems and NuScale announced this week that they have mutually agreed to terminate their project.

The DOE had previously provided a cumulative $232M for the project. We'll see what the path forward for NuScale holds. It has ~$150M cash and cash equivalents on hand, as best as I can tell at a quick glance, while its market capitalization has fallen to about ~$150M, too.

Elsewhere, Fifth Season, a U.S.-based robotic vertical farm startup, filed for bankruptcy and liquidation this week.

🚫 so good news: Methane emissions from livestock (enteric fermentation, more specifically) continue to rise with few concrete plans from major industry stakeholders to mitigate emissions. 

I've written about emergent technologies here and here, but these have yet to be applied at a significant commercial scale. Hopefully, we see demo projects and trials at the scale of tens or hundreds of thousands of cattle in 2024.

🌞 Closing on good news: California's public employee retirement fund (CalPERS) plans to invest $100B in climate solutions by 2030, ~doubling current commitments. CalPERS is the largest public pension fund in the U.S.

Also in California, PG&E officially filed a License Renewal Application with NRC to extend operations at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which provides ~17% of California's low-carbon electricity, for up to 20 more years.

Talk to you again on Thursday!

– Nick

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