Biden betters battery bottlenecks #59

Shoring up battery supply chains for the energy transition

Happy Monday! As the world increasingly returns from URL to IRL, global supply chains rush to keep up. The White House has taken note and issued recommendations to shore up battery manufacturing and sustainable mining - key tenants of electrification and decarbonization, but China is the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to rare earth elements.

The debate over the climate infrastructure bill continues in real time, with some senators calling for #NoClimateNoDeal. Meanwhile in the climate tech future you can commute on a giant hydrogen airship, and juice up your EV at 7-11 while sipping your slurpee.

A bevvy of deals include seaweed digestives for cows, tree planting at the speed of Reddit, and more faux-chicken nuggets.

Thanks for reading! And congratulations to Wasabi the Pekingese - though we had our heart set on Striker the Samoyed and Jade the GSP 🐾

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Battery materials made in China

From timber to soil to rare metals to semiconductors, it seems like everything is in short supply these days...

The White House is determined to fix supply chain bottlenecks in several industries as consumer demand roars back post-pandemic. As part of the effort to accelerate electrification, Biden moved to shore up domestic and international battery manufacturing and sustainable mining of raw materials through a multi-agency initiative. The push includes a blueprint to develop supplies for lithium batteries as well as a $17b provision for advanced battery loans that would help shift the country to electric vehicles.

Today’s mineral supply and investment come up short on what’s needed to electrify and decarbonize the energy sector. Supply of materials like lithium, nickel, cobalt, and other rare earth elements are directly correlated with the ability to meet net-zero targets, and yet existing supply-demand imbalances are already driving up prices. According to The Economist, the price of a basket of five minerals used in electric cars and power grids soared by 139% this past year.

Some of the battery-centric recommendations out of the White House to address domestic supply chain shortages include:

☔️ Establishing a new Supply Chain Resilience Program at the Department of Commerce to monitor and address supply chain challenges as well as invest $50b to strengthen US supply chains across a range of critical products.

💸 Investing in the development of next generation batteries to reduce the critical mineral requirements and improve US competitiveness in electric vehicles and grid storage technologies.

👀 Identify potential sustainable production and processing locations for critical minerals in conjunction with the US Geological Survey’s Mineral Resources Program at DOI to develop a comprehensive map of domestic critical mineral resources and reserves.

This domestic shortage comes with the context that China originates ~60% of rare earth element production, and the Democratic Republic of Congo provides ~70% of global cobalt. Meanwhile, the US currently controls only a 10% market share on battery manufacturing. Collaboration with other countries will be essential to the US’ battery strategy.

The supply chain bottleneck initiative will undoubtedly shine a light on just how reliant US manufacturing is on China - and global climate targets generally. Concurrently, the G7 gathered last week where Biden urged our allies to take a harder line against China.

Deals of the Week (6/7-6/13)

⚡ Northvolt, a Sweden-based maker of lithium-ion batteries for EVs, raised $2.75b in new equity funding from OMERS Capital Markets and Swedish pension funds, Goldman Sachs, Volkswagen and insiders Baillie Gifford, Baron Capital Group, EIT InnoEnergy, Norrsken VC, and others.

🔋 EcoFlow, a San Francisco-based developer of portable power stations, raised $100m in Series B funding from GL Ventures.

⚒️ Jetti Resources, a Boulder, CO-based developer of copper extraction technology, raised $50m in Series C funding from Mitsubishi Corporation, Freeport-McMoRan, BHP Ventures, Orion Resource Partners, and T. Rowe Price.

🐔 SIMULATE, a New York, NY-based plant-based chicken nuggets company, raised $50m in Series B funding from SEVEN SEVEN SIX, Chris and Crystal Sacca, NOMO Ventures, McCain Foods, Imaginary Ventures, and Day One Ventures.

🌲 Terraformation, a Hawaii-based startup supporting the scaling of forest restoration projects, raised $30m in Series A funding from Sam and Max Altman, along with nearly 100 angel investors, including Joe Lonsdale.

🛰️ Sentera, an AI-based agricultural insights platform, raised $25m in Series C funding from CDPQ, S2G Ventures, Akroyd, Continental Grain Company, iSelect Fund, and Middleland Capital.

☀️ Clir Renewables, a renewable energy software company, raised $22.4m in Series B funding from Longbow Capital, ArcTern Ventures, Canada Pension Plan Investments, BDC Capital, Active Impact Investments, and Tokio Marine.

💨 Circulor, a UK-based supply chain traceability and CO2 tracking company, raised $14m in Series A funding from The Westly Group, Salesforce Ventures, BHP Ventures, Future Positive Capital, 24Haymarket, and Sky Ocean Ventures. Read more in last week’s feature here.

☀️ NEXT Energy Technologies, a Santa Barbara, CA-based maker of transparent photovoltaic coatings for windows, raised $13.4m in Series C funding from Alon Blue Square, GEAR Innovation Network, Viracon, and Rincon Advisors.

🍅 Red Sea Farms, a Saudi Arabia-based agtech startup growing tomatoes in an environment-controlled farm using primarily saltwater, raised $10m in Series A funding from Wa’ed, Future Investment Initiative Institute, King Abdullah University for Science & Technology and Global Ventures.

⚡ Lumenaza, a Berlin-based SaaS platform for green utilities, raised $7.9m in Series B funding from First Imagine!, New Kraftwerk Technology, Future Energy Ventures, and IBB Ventures.

💧 PowerTech Water, a Lexington, KY-based developer of water treatment technologies, raised $6m in Series B funding from HG Ventures, the State of Kentucky, and Bluegrass Angel Network.

🐄 Blue Ocean Barns, a Redwood City, CA-based producer of a cattle supplement which significantly reduces the animal’s methane emissions, raised $5m in Seed funding from Valor Siren Ventures.

🌱 Spinnova, a Finland-based maker of textile fibers from wood and agricultural waste, raised $3.65m in funding from Adidas.

🌱 PlanetWatchers, a UK-based crop monitoring company that provides insurance claims assessment, raised $3.5m in pre-Series A funding from Seraphim Capital, Creative Ventures, Trendlines Agrifood Fund and Ridgeline Partners.

🥩 Hooray Foods, a San Francisco, CA-based plant-based meat producer, raised $2m in Seed funding from Evolution VC Partners, Gaingels and Sand Hill Angels.

⚡ Amogy, a New York, NY-based developer of ammonia-based emission-free, high energy-density power solutions, raised an undisclosed amount in funding from AP Ventures, DCVC, Collaborative Fund, and investor Shaun Arora.

Later-Stage Fundings / New Funds:

⚡ Wallbox, a Spanish maker of EV charging solutions, agreed to go public via Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp. II, valuing it at around $1.5b.

Credit Suisse closed a $318m Climate Innovation Fund which will commit capital to ten venture funds in North America, Europe, and Asia that are active in facilitating the reduction of carbon emissions.

Trucks VC, a transportation-focused venture firm (which we featured recently), raised $52m for its second early-stage fund and an undisclosed amount for its first growth fund.

United Airlines launched a corporate venture fund focused on travel and sustainability.

In the News

A group of 10 senators from across the aisle proposed an infrastructure deal that focuses on “hard” infrastructure but mostly excludes the more ambitious parts of Biden’s package - including most climate components. This story is evolving but leading sentiment on the proposal is #NoClimateNoDeal.

The DOE announced the first of its Energy Earthshot initiatives, the Hydrogen Shot program to reduce hydrogen production costs by 80% to $1/ kg. Sharp H2 shooters can apply to the DOE’s request for information for viable hydrogen demonstrations by July 7th.

BNEF published their latest annual EV outlook, projecting mostly EVs sold by the 2030s and on the road by 2040.

In an attempt to bring solar panel manufacturing back to domestic soil (see: our news headline above), First Solar is building a $680m plant in Ohio that would double its current production and create 500 jobs.

The Keystone Pipeline is (finally) dead after facing a decade of controversy.

Despite a pandemic dip, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels set a record last month. A stark reminder that CO2 emissions are like filling a hot tub and meeting zero-carbon just stops the flow.

New York Green Bank and the NY State Housing Finance Agency teamed up with Workforce Housing Group to finance and launch a project to bring high-speed broadband and Wi-Fi access to low-income residents, using cost savings from solar power.


Up, up, and away! Cruise in style on the world’s largest airship, complete with liquid hydrogen fuel, 90% lower emissions, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Just don’t call it the Hindenburg.

Get your slurpee and your juice. 7-11 is installing 500 EV chargers at 250 stores.

What do LA and Stockholm have in common? Both have mayors pushing to turn their cities into test beds for sustainable technology.

Environmental risks are flooding the home-buyer’s checklist. Check out the companies shedding light on real estate climate hazards.

ICYMI: If you liked last week’s feature on project finance, check out this excellent panel moderated by Rob Day of Spring Lane Capital on new models in sustainable real assets.

As Biden pushes to waive COVID-19 vaccine patents, experts weigh in on whether the move sets a precedent for climate tech innovation.

PG&E’s new CEO calls herself a “recovered climate-denier.” Now, her ability to act on climate change might determine her fate.

Must-Read: The IPBES and IPCC teamed up to warn the world to stop treating climate change and biodiversity loss separately. Some methods to address climate change could destroy biodiversity. Meanwhile, the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) launched to guide companies in reporting on their biodiversity impacts and strategies.

Opportunities & Events:

💡 LACI Market Access: Applications are live for the LA Clean Energy Incubator’s pilots-focused program for later-stage startups deploying leading cleantech solutions in SoCal alongside LA DOT and LA Metro. Apply by June 30th.

💡 Climate Subak: Looking to accelerate your climate nonprofit? Apply to Subak’s second cohort by July 31st.

💡 Techstars Sustainability Challenge: Calling all climate tech startups focused on carbon accounting, carbon removal and storage, and industrial decarbonization. Apply by August 2nd to Techstars’ Net Zero challenge.

💡 Greentown Healthy Buildings Challenge: Greentown Labs, Saint-Gobain, and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center are partnering to launch an accelerator seeking startups innovating in buildings materials and digital platforms. Apply by August 25th.


Venture Capital Analyst @TotalEnergies

Energy Transition Senior Analyst @Broadscale

Head of Philanthropic Partnership @Elemental Excelerator

Data Architect @Subak

Head of Projects @Skyven Technologies

Senior Electrical Engineer @Gradient

Head of Investor Relations @Joby Aviation

Head of Communications @Commonwealth Fusion Systems

Inventory Strategy Associate @Bowery Farming

Software Engineer @Phaidra

Engineering Manager @Myst AI

Sr. Chemical Engineer @Amogy

Program Manager @BlueSwell

Feel free to send us new ideas, recent fundings, or general curiosities. Have a great week ahead!

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