In today’s edition:
💰 EU support for clean tech
🌼 Flower-based leather
💨 Tech to tackle air pollution
Forwarded on this email by a friend?
💼 Big Business (1-minute read)
EU Commission head says EU must support clean tech to compete with the U.S.
What’s happened: The European Union needs financing tools to help its clean tech compete against U.S. rivals that are set to benefit from support under the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), according to the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
Why: European countries welcome Washington’s commitment to the green transition but fear the IRA will unfairly disadvantage their companies because many subsidies only go to products, such as electric cars, built in North America.
Importance: 37% of the EU’s existing 800 billion euro recovery fund was earmarked for climate change-related investment, but this points to more financing tools to preserve industry supporting EU climate tech. It could also lead to further trading blocs doubling down on climate funding.
Oil chief appointed president of the COP28 climate summit in UAE
The head of Abu Dhabi’s state-owned oil company — Sultan al-Jaber — has been appointed COP28 president — sparking debate among climate advocates and commentators…
Those against the appointment say: The role is a conflict of interest as its difficult for the president to unite countries around more aggressive climate action while simultaneously promoting domestically produced oil and gas.
Those supporting the appointment say: al-Jaber brings the experience of brokering a transition away from fossil fuels and has served as the UAE’s special envoy for climate change and guiding the UAE’s early adoption of renewable energy (Masdar is set to be the world's second largest renewable investor by 2030)
The bigger picture: At COP27, fossil fuel-producing nations blocked a push to promise to 'phase down' all fossil fuels in the final deal. Balancing the interests of many conflicting parties will be challenging for the COP28 president.
Stella McCartney and LVMH back$200mn climate-linked venture capital fund
Collab SOS is a new early-stage climate venture fund backed by Stella McCartney and LVMH (French Luxury goods company). The fund focuses on sustainable materials, energy and supply chains in the fashion industry. The scaling and value proposition are clear:
1. The fund invests in businesses with 500k-1m annual revenue.
2. Stella McCartney helps them to scale to 3-5m of revenue to de-risk the technology
3. LVMH becomes a customer and supports scale to 30m of annual revenue.
What we love: An interesting twist for a corporate venture capital fund with a different flavour.
🤖 Future of Tech (1-minute read)
A successful trial could = hydrogen for the energy grid
The headline: The UK’s national electricity grid has completed a successful trial of hydrogen-powered backup generators (or HPUs) at substations. Backup generators provide power at substations for crucial activities such as cooling, pumping and lights — ensuring substations can always perform their role in the electricity transmission system.
The importance: Current diesel generators are emission intensive - generating over 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year — the equivalent of flying from London to Boston and back x500, with 250 substations currently in the UK. HPUs are important in achieving their net-zero ambitions in the national grid.
HPU momentum: Microsoft has also used HPUs in trials to replace diesel backup generators at data centres. The next step for adoption at scale is making green hydrogen widely available and economically viable.
Vegan leather from waste flowers
Problem 1: Producing leather from animals poses environmental hazards — it is energy and water-intensive, and the treating process can release toxic chemicals that pollute water bodies.
Problem 2: In India, tonnes of flowers (like marigolds and roses) are deposited into rivers after being used by temples and worshippers. The mass-grown flowers are often covered in pesticides which contaminate the water.
Solution: Kanpur-based startup, Phool, uses these waste flowers to create Fleather - a new material providing an alternative to animal leather by repurposing floral waste. Fleather has been used in several prototypes, including wallets, sandals and trainers.
Next steps: Fleather isn’t currently tough enough for items like belts, so after being a finalist of the 2022 Earthshot Prize, Phool is working with Clavin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger to develop the material’s tensile strength so it can be applied to more products.
💡 Start-up Spotlight (1-minute read)
One liner: Hyper-local air quality monitoring, helping over 600 local governments reduce their emissions and protect public health.
Problem statement: More than 10 million people die yearly from air pollution. State-owned air quality monitoring stations are usually only affordable for large first-world cities. Since they are expensive, there are often only three to five covering large expanses of land, so data is often not granular enough to identify pollution hotspots and target interventions.
How it works: Airly offers iPhone-sized air quality sensors at around $300. Using the data collected, Airly’s AI-driven algorithms predict air pollution for the next 24 hours with a verifiability of up to 95%. The platform’s insights are available in real-time to app users and can help communities gauge real-time health risks of poor air quality based on WHO standards or illegal emissions. It analyses trends to identify sources of pollution and gives recommendations for improving air quality. For example, it can tell communities if they should implement low-emission zones, solid fuel bans and green school streets.
- Selling Sensors - Companies wishing to buy sensors and contribute to data
- Sensing as a Service - Local governments, companies and media outlets pay a yearly subscription to access insights from the sensors network ($540 per node per year).
- CSR/ESG Consulting - Using air quality data to support clients' marketing campaigns
Potential Impact: Democratising air quality data with 2 Million App downloads across 50 countries has enabled communities to use the data collected to lobby local governments to take air quality action. With increased data granularity, governments can also ensure funding to combat air pollution is most effectively targeted. What gets measured gets managed.
Founders: Aleksander Konior, Michal Misiek & Wiktor Warchałowski
Latest Funding: $5.5m (£4.7m) Series A (November 2022)
Partnerships: Veoila, Philips, PWC
💭 Little Bytes
Quote: “Around the world, regulators are starting to confront the growing greenwashing issue. Addressing the problem will require those bodies leading the charge… to establish a global equivalence in ESG reporting.” Planet Tracker’s director of research, John Willis
Stat: The global market for manufactured clean energy technologies will be worth around $650bn annually by 2030 — The IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives 2023
Watch: The Netherlands building giant, artificial islands to protect wildlife
🗞 In other news…
- Real estate firms pledge to halve emissions this decade under WEF initiative.
- Tesla Slashes Prices Up to 20% in Broad Bid to Boost Sales.
- India sets green hydrogen consumption targets for some industries to generate demand for cleaner fuel, having already announced incentives to develop hydrogen production.
- A fresh wave of single-use plastics bans to be implemented in England later this year.
Written by Colin and Ollie - Drop us a message!