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💸 "What Emerging Climate Tech Sectors Are Ready for Growth?"

The Energy Gang

Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Hosts: Stephen Lacey & Katherine Hamilton
Guest: Nneka Uzoh Kibuule | Senior Vice President | Aligned Climate Capital
Category: 💸 Funding

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[4:36] “Our firm was founded to invest in the technologies that are going to either accelerate towards a green economy or help stop climate change. So for us, that means everything from renewable energy, clean transportation, resilient and efficient infrastructure to sustainable land use.”

[5:40] “I believe that there's a lot of money that needs to go into the pre commercial space. There's a lot of capital intensive tech that needs support on the early end, whether that's space technology or battery chemistries. But once we find that companies have a commercial product, there's a lot of interest in them. But they don't always have the support to do wide scale deployment, or understand the complexities of who their partners are and what it takes to serve them.”

[6:09] “Some of the areas that I'm really excited about are heavy duty, trucking, or even the ways that people are thinking about mass transportation of people, which is very different from micro mobility. And what makes these areas really hard to scale are just the sheer amount of stakeholders who are involved. […] On the other side, when we look at the way that the United States was designed in the westward expansion, it's the world of the car, we talk about route 66 and there are a number of small towns that were built up around gas stations and rest stops. But if we're changing the way that trucking is happening, we need to make sure that some of those petrol stations are being changed to EV charging stations and understand how we do fleet electrification at scale. So it's really cool to watch some of these EV companies get funding, seeing some of these fleet electrification companies get a lot of attention. But at the end of the day, where we need a lot of support is how do we connect all of those? What's the sauce that brings people together? And who is that underlying layer that makes this transition more seamless?

[9:34] “I think that the drive trains can always get better. The technology can always get better, but climate has changed. We're seeing these massive wildfires, terrible floods, all these things that are happening, and we honestly don't have the luxury of waiting until every single manufacturer is in 100% peak perfect shape. So we're looking at people who are thinking about modular deployments, thinking about technology that can be dropped into current manufacturing processes, or is a really easy swap out for current drive train engine setups, etc. So that way, when you're thinking about it as a modular application or thinking about it as OEM partnership, it's no longer about building a whole new trucking company. It's about creating services, to help existing infrastructure, thrive and survive for this next stage of the world that we're living in.”

[11:52] “Aligned Climate Capital […] early on […] saw the need for community solar. So that's something we're really invested in. Because […] we don't believe that clean tech is only for the people with a lot of disposable income. It's for all of us, and community solar gives and micro grids and all of those things, give opportunities for people to partake, and share. And we're talking about a real sharing economy, not necessarily a gig economy. So for us, we're thinking about who are the people who benefit from all of these technological breakthroughs.”

[12:56] “I think there's this other piece around community in terms of who is feeling the negative effects of the current systems that we have. And the folks that are feeling the negative effects most immediately of some of the emissions are people who live in fence line and frontline communities, that means that they're along highways, or along manufacturing plants. So the sooner that we get to cleaner, emitting vehicles or cleaner generation through microgrids, or other features, that means that there's going to be less asthma, it means that there's going to be cleaner water, and it's going to mean a higher quality of life for everyday individuals. And this is not just thinking about clean tech or climate tech from a Tesla driver’s perspective. It's about clean tech and climate tech and the human dignity perspective.”

[22:02] “I've been so impressed by how quickly some of these [electric] aviation companies have been able to scale. […] And just to see the level of interest that's going into the space that's […] super capital intensive, tons of regulations, but people are understanding [that] there has to be a better way. And with the right investment, this can be phenomenal. And this is also one of those places where […] there's no excuse. The airlines have been complaining about their low margins for years. And they're leaning into this, because they're acknowledging that they're going to be on the hook for their emissions. The customers are desiring a cleaner way of transportation.”

[23:18] “Another place that I'm particularly interested in scaling is this indoor agricultural space. People have been growing indoors for years […]. This is not a new thing. But it's also so interesting to see a lot more capital going into the space of growing things that are not just greens and microgreens and a greenhouse. And like changing the way that we're utilizing water, as we're doing agricultural development.”

[25:22] “When we're talking about institutional investors, we're seeing some investors that have historically been looked at as being more sophisticated, whose clients are really thinking about conserving wealth, and growing at a steady pace, rather than some of our typical venture capital investors who are okay with kind of the frenetic pace of tech innovation. So you're seeing a lot more pension funds, endowments, corporate governments, etc, investing in clean tech. And it's interesting, because after clean tech 1.0, when there was a lot of volatility in the market, you would hear people say, we don't invest in clean tech or climate tech anymore. But now they feel like they have to. I mean you're seeing monumental growth on especially in the EV space, solar has become a commodity, everything is becoming a normalized, that you're seeing some of the OGs coming into the space, which is really exciting.”

[27:03] “There's also sometimes potentially opportunity where there's more money than opportunities. More recently, there have been a couple billion dollar funds that have been announced. At the same time, we have so many startups, they're a little bit more nascent in their adventure. So they might need $2 and $3 million checks. And they're not quite ready for the $10 million and $50 million checks. But it's also really exciting, that when they get to that level, there's going to be someone waiting, you know, with the opportunity for them to help them scale their business and growth equity.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 54 min | 🗓️ 08/04/2021
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