Nuclear option: Diablo plant extends #116

California marks $54B for climate and extends Diablo Canyon nuclear plant

Happy Monday!

Hope everyone is having a lovely Labor Day! In this week’s issue, we click into nuclear’s resurgence as an energy option; somewhere between economics, war, and the realization that it ain’t all that bad, nuclear has emerged as an unlikely salve with California deciding to uncontest a once contested plant.

In fundings, Swiss plant-based meat alternatives raise $72m, lithium-ion recycling raises $50m, and Israeli cultivated meat raises $40m from Leonardo DiCaprio (aged less than 25 years!)

In the news, CA approves $54b in aggressive new climate spending, Pakistan floods, Europe overheats, and the Amazon is on fire. Also, Nigeria proposes trading development goals for climate commitments.

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Diablo fuels nuclear’s comeback

California is back in the spotlight after last week’s headlines. The fifth-largest economy approved a record $54B in climate spending along with the passage of SB846 extending the life of Diablo Canyon Power Plant to 2029 (+ $1.4B to PG&E to continue Diablo’s operations). Diablo Canyon accounts for a whopping 9% of the state’s total electricity and 15% of its clean energy generation, making it the largest single source of electricity in the state.

The passage of SB846 marks a calculated 180 pivot for Gov. Newsom, who was a vocal opponent of Diablo Canyon and advocated for the plant’s closure by 2025. Now the facility is a key component of his energy de-risking strategy. It’s also a drastic shift from a state that has historically been a frontline for the anti-nuclear movement, with Diablo Canyon at the center of the heated debate.

Now, with the threat of rolling blackouts, a looming energy crisis, and global supply chain disruptions delaying new renewable power, Diablo Canyon has found itself a crew of unlikely allies, from politicians to environmental activists, who see its continued operation as crucial to keeping California’s lights on and zero-emission goals attainable.

However, the decision to keep the power plant online comes with its own set of tradeoffs.

⚡ A nu-clear energy picture. Keeping Diablo Canyon online brings California’s clean energy future one step closer to reality. According to a study by Stanford University and MIT, keeping Diablo Canyon online to 2035 would enable California to achieve ~11% reduction in CO2 from electricity generation relative to 2017 levels, and realize approximately $2.6B in cost savings.

Emissions reduction in California with/ without Diablo (Source: Stanford and MIT Study)

These gains are no small feat, especially since the state has already missed the mark on about 40% of its 4 GW target for new solar and battery resources by this summer. Jesse Jenkins sums it up best:

🩹 Bandaid to buy more time. Diablo’s extension buys more time for renewables capacity and grid reliability to ramp up. The ruling should further ignite the state’s aggressive push on solar and batteries, geothermal resources, long-duration energy-storage, and offshore wind - and in some cases, act as a low-cost bridge for offshore wind interconnection.

But as often goes with nuclear, it’s never quite so simple. Diablo still faces short-term logistical obstacles, including requesting DOE funding support for plant operations and new federal licensing approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after years of deferred maintenance.

☢️ Nuclear’s shifting tide goes global. The conversation surrounding Diablo Canyon is a microcosm of global sentiment shifting back to nuclear in light of the rampant energy crunch. Historically anti-nuclear Germany and Japan are extending old plants and considering new investments, while other countries are firing on all nuclear cylinders - the UK is planning 8 new nuclear plants and South Korea announced a goal to reach 30% of power generation to come from nuclear by 2030.

The pendulum on nuclear has swung from clean energy controversy to critical (albeit interim) climate solution, though we’re not quite ready to call it a baked sentiment yet. Whether or not it holds ground will depend on how quickly countries are able to spin up reliable renewable capacity, and how far geopolitical crises push global energy regimes.


Deals of the Week (8/29-9/4)

🌱 Planted, a Switzerland-based company developing plant-based meat-alternatives raised $72m in Series B funding from L Catterton, Vorwerk Ventures, TEV Ventures, Movendo Capital, Gullspang Re:food, ETH Zurich Foundation, Be8 Ventures, and Ace & Company.

🔋 Ascend Elements, Westborough, MA-based lithium-ion battery recycling and materials company, raised $50m from SK Group.

⚡ Blue World Technologies, a Denmark-based developer of methanol fuel cells that act as alternatives to non-renewable fuels, raised $37m in Series B funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Vaekstfonden, and DEUTZ AG.

🌿 Pattern Ag, a Emeryville, CA-based company providing crop risk predictions and recommendations raised $35m in Series B funding from Continental Grain Company, Valor Capital Group, The Production Board, Ospraie Ag Sciences, Launch, iSelect Fund, Founders Fun, and Bidra Innovations.

⚡ Recurve, a Mill Valley, CA-based virtual power plant platform, raised $18m in Series B funding from Calpine Energy Solutions, Quantum Energy Partners, Toshiba Energy Systems and Energy Foundry.

⛏️ Zanskar, a Provo, UT-based AI geothermal exploration and discovery company, raised $12m in Series A funding from USV, Lowercarbon, Munich Re Ventures, Safar Partners, Grantham Foundation, and First Star Ventures.

🌱 Neutral, a Portland, OR-based carbon-neutral food company, raised $12m in Series A funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Global Brain, Norinchukin Bank, and numerous celebrity investors including LeBron James and John Legend.

🧺 Oxwash, a UK-based startup providing on-demand laundry services that reduce environmental costs raised $11.6m in Series A funding from Untitled VC, Vala Capital, TrueSight Ventures, and System Capital Management.

🚗 Populus, a San Francisco, CA-based transportation data platform helping cities manage fleet services, raised $11m in Series A funding from Zero Infinity Partners, Climactic VC, Comcast Ventures, Precursor Ventures, and FootPrint Coalition.

🚗 SparkCharge, a Somerville, MA-based EV charging network, raised $7m in additional Series A funding from Cleveland Avenue.

🌳 Carbon Counts, a Cambridge, MA-based mobile gaming company planting trees globally raised $4.5m in Seed funding from Borderless Capital, Algorand, Grantham, Susquehanna Foundation, Oceans Ventures, Winklevoss Capital, and Capital Factory.

💨 Direct-C, a Canada-based company developing oil leak monitoring technology, raised $3.9m in Series A funding from Henkel and GreenSky Capital.

🌾 Puna Bio, an Argentina-based developer of extremophiles, microbes that thrive in extreme environments, to increase agricultural yields and restore soil, raised $3.7m in Seed funding from Builders VC, At One Ventures, SP Ventures, IndieBio, Grid Exponential, Glocal, and AIR Capital.

🧜🏽‍♀️ Mermade Seafoods, an Israel-based developer of cell-based scallops, raised $3.3m in Seed round funding from OurCrowd and Fall Line.

⚡ Cellfion, a Sweden-based company developing bio-based membranes for energy storage and conversion devices, raised $1.3m in Seed funding from Voima Ventures, LIU Invest, KTH Holding, Klimatet Invest, and Almi Invest GreenTech.

🔋 Mobile Power, a Nigeria-based pay-per use battery sharing platform, raised $1.2m from All On, a Shell-funded independent impact investing firm.

💨️ GreenTrade, a Germany-based, blockchain-based carbon credit and impact claims marketplace, raised $750k in Pre-seed funding from Cerulean Ventures, Flori Ventures, Draft Ventures, and Allegory Labs.

🛰️ Pixxel, an India-based developer of satellites assessing climate risks, raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Accenture Ventures.

Exits & New Funds:

Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, raised $3B for its CI Energy Transition Fund, aimed to fund clean hydrogen projects globally and reach commitments outlined by the Paris Climate Agreement.

Convalt Energy, a Watertown, NY-based renewable, manufacturing and power generating  company, is going public via SPAC GigInternational1.

EnergyCap, a State College, PA-based provider of energy and sustainability ERP software, acquired Wattics, an Ireland-based energy management analytics platform.

Measurabl, a San Diego, CA-based property portfolio management software firm providing ESG data management solutions acquired WegoWise, a Boston, MA-based utility analytics company.


In the News

One day after California officials declared a statewide grid emergency to cope with surging demand for power amid a blistering heat wave, CA approved $54b in aggressive new climate measures, setting a goal to reach 90% clean electricity by 2035. Funding breaks down as follows: $6.1b for EVs, including new battery-powered school buses; $14.8b for transit, rail, and port projects; >$8b to clean up and stabilize the electric grid; $2.7b to reduce wildfire risks; and $2.8b in water programs to deal with drought.

President Biden will appoint John Podesta, a veteran Washington insider who led the Obama administration’s climate strategy, to oversee IRA’s $370b clean energy federal investment. Climate advisor Gina McCarthy plans to step down this month.
A Nature study pegs the social cost of carbon at $185/ ton CO2 - more than 3x the current federal government figure of $51.

The Biden administration awards $560m from last year’s infrastructure law to plug orphaned oil and gas wells in 24 states, the largest single investment in oil field cleanup in history.

A “monsoon on steroids:” Pakistan has been battered by ongoing floods affecting more than 33 million people. Rainfall this year is running 780% above average levels, while melting Himalayan glaciers are only making floods deadlier.

Brazil's Amazon rainforest sees the worst August fires in over a decade, while a rare ‘triple-dip’ la Nina is likely for the first time this century, increasing global drought risk. Mississippi’s governor declares a state of emergency ahead of massive flooding.

Europe is living through its worst heat wave since the Renaissance. The energy tug-of-war from dwindling oil and natural gas imports from Russia continues to impact the energy supply chain. In the UK, surging energy prices have been declared a national emergency, and led to this coffee shop receiving a $10,000 monthly energy bill).


Germany approved the Energy Saving Ordinance to combat high energy prices over the next six months after experts calculated that household bills will rise by €2,000 for a small apartment and by €5,000 for a house. Mandatory measures include: switching off illuminated advertising after 10pm, no heating for halls and corridors in public buildings or private pools, temperature limits of 19°C for offices, and warm water cuts.

China’s CO2 emissions fell by a record 8% in Q2 2022, a 230 MtCO2 reduction that is the largest in at least a decade, driven by China’s ongoing real-estate slump, strict Covid control measures, weak growth in electricity demand and strong growth in renewable output.


Pop-up

McKinsey released a report on the breakdown of plastics. Good timing, to pair with our recent feature Life in bio-plastic, it's fantastic!

For the academic journal version of last week’s John Oliver, check out Climate Policy.

Third Sphere wants to “view climate change like an alien invasion,” and we’re here for it. Calling Will Smith for a threequel. Now that’s a movie we would watch.

Don’t stress, forgive debt. Nigeria wants developing countries to trade debt, for climate commitments.

Climate action is more popular than you (and most Americans) think. So let’s start, because we’ve got an awfully long way to go…

New York City gets more networked, with Revel’s launch of the first ever rideshare-to-grid system.

Philip Anschutz’s, known as the billionaire “who owns LA” and Coachella, is building a wind farm in Wyoming that can supply energy to Californians.

France put a €4K bounty on cars, encouraging drivers to switch to bikes. Turn in your cars people.

Would you rather – eat or heat. UK residents are expected to spend 10% of income this winter on energy bills, leading to impossible trade offs.

Battery recycling supply chains are ramping up, but lack one critical component - the scrap itself.

Copper demand is expected to increase by more than 50% between now and 2040. “It is literally the wiring that connects the present to the future,” and it will depend on recycling technology.

George Church is attempting to “de-extinct” the Tasmanian tiger which was hunted to extinction in the early 20th century. Is this #climatetech? Regardless, it sure is fascinating.

A modern-day Noah’s ark? Zimbabwe is moving 2,500 wild animals (including 400 elephants, 70 giraffes, 50 buffaloes, 50 wildebeest, 50 zebras) because of drought caused by climate change.

A new study shows that letting bison run free improved plant native plants in prairie ecosystems by a whopping 86%, and three times as much as cows.

The University of Toronto is #krill-in it. Scientists there are studying how the tiny fish cool themselves down, in order to make big gains in building HVAC efficiency.

So domestic. The Inflation Reduction Act needs smart policy abroad to make headway at home. Will Biden’s crowning achievement require cooperation, competition, or both?

Yale’s Environmental Short Film Contest honored “From Dreams to Dust” for covering the dirty impact of nickel mining.


Opportunities & Events

🗓️ The Health + Wealth of Our Planet: Join our friends from Worth & Techonomy at City Winery on Sep 20 for this event in the midst of UN Week and Climate Week in New York. Along with Sophie Purdom and Kim Zou, the event will be joined by leaders from businesses in a wide range of industries, the nonprofit sector, investing and government. CTVC community members can use this link to register for $100 off tickets.

🗓️ HolonIQ’s Global Impact Summit: Join Sophie and Kim on Sept 22 for HolonIQ’s climate track featuring CTVC favorites like Carbon Direct, Aether Diamonds, BlocPower, among many more. CTVC readers can use the promo code “CTVCVIP” for complimentary tickets - but hurry, free tickets are reserved for the first 100 registrants!

💡 Greentown Go Move 2022: Apply by Sep 30 for the chance to pursue partnership outcomes with BASF and Magna through Greentown Labs. Open to startups decarbonizing the transportation sector through material and recycling process innovations.


Jobs

Chief Operating Officer @Zero Acre Farms

VP of Operations @Transect

Head of Marketing @Arc Boats

Business Development Representative @Fox Robotics

Business Development Representative @Hopthru

Growth Lead @Hopthru

Digital Associate @OnePointFive

Mechanical Engineer @Artyc

Robot Technician @Fox Robotics

Senior Water Expert @Waterplan


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

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