Peaty blinders: in bog we trust #101

Peat is depleting faster than forests, drawing down its carbon sink potential

Happy Monday!

Outside of great potential for puns, peat also contains more than 3x the carbon as forests on a hectare basis. Despite it taking longer to form, its stewardship and carbon removal capacity is at odds with its’ use as a cheap fuel alternative. Innovation in its preservation is burgeoning, though its carbon credits markets are still relatively immature despite the potential.

In this week’s fundings, Group14 Technologies, a developer of lithium-silicon battery materials raised a whopping $400m in Series C funding followed by Series B raises from an India-based vertical farming platform and climate tech fan favorite Pachama.

In the news, John Doerr drops $1.1b to Stanford’s new climate school and Caltech breaks ground on their $750m new sustainability school.

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Removing bog fog: peat’s neat carbon cheat

We typically default to thinking about protecting trees and restoring soils when it comes to land-based carbon sinks. However, two deep dives this week prompted us to look beyond the fog and into the bog.

One article describes the ‘turf war’ in Ireland on the use of peat for cheap heat as opposed to carbon capture, and the other introduces a 200,000-acre project in Scotland to repair dried peatland to generate carbon credits. We were reminded that peat, while causing a rift in some places, is neat for both ecotourism and its carbon sequestration potential.

What is peat anyway? Peat is a thick, mucky substance made up of dead and decomposing plant matter. It develops over hundreds, even thousands of years, as wetland vegetation slowly decays beneath a living layer of flora and in the near absence of oxygen. "Rewetting" peatlands aka flooding areas to restore degraded bogs helps keep carbon sequestered.

Peat’s carbon credentials:

  • One meter of peat can contain 3x+ the amount of carbon as the forest above
  • Forests cover ~ 8% of the land area and sequesters ~272 ± 23 Gt of carbon, while northern peatlands cover ~2% of global land surface and stores ~415 ± 150 Gt of carbon
  • Drawdown finds that peatland protection and rewetting ranks among the top land sink solutions with 41.93 Gt CO2e reduction potential in the 2˚C scenario
Source: The one and only Nicole Kelner. Check out her climate watercolors, and follow her on Twitter for serotonin-boosting drops throughout the week. Notes: Shows “restoration” and “protection” Land Sinks and Land Use solutions from Project Drawdown.

Despite peat’s carbon sequestration prowess, the first carbon credit sale from peatland rewetting only occurred in mid-2020. Of our Twitter survey of startups working on peatlands, only two startups surfaced – Peatland Technologies and Revere.  So, why has peat continued to stay in murky carbon market waters? We have a few theories.

  • Low tech. Peatland rewetting is challenging boots on the ground work, not tech-enabled venture
  • Time. It takes 1,000 years for a meter deep of peat to form
  • Geography. Peatlands are located in wealthier and colder regions, making them less appealing for carbon project
  • Emissions variability. Emissions dynamics are complex & locally dependent and a lot of wetland work isn't climate-focused
  • MRV. Peatland restoration faces the same challenges with additionality, permanence, and leakage as forestry carbon credits, with even more MRV uncertainty

Deals of the Week (5/2-5/8)

If you’re reading on your phone, get your deals dose, TikTok style 🕺🏽

🔋 Group14 Technologies, a Woodinville, WA-based developer of a silicon-carbon composite material that replaces the graphite anodes in lithium-ion batteries to make them more efficient and charge faster, raised $400m in Series C funding from Porsche AG, OMERS Capital Markets, Decarbonization Partners, Riverstone Holdings LLC, Vsquared Ventures, and Moore Strategic Ventures.

🌱 Absolute Foods, an India-based AI-driven platform enabling vertical farms, greenhouses and open farms to grow crops without synthetic enzymes and GMOs, raised $100m in Series B funding from Sequoia Capital India, Alpha Wave Global, and Tiger Global.

💨 Pachama, a San Francisco, CA-based carbon credit platform, raised $55m in Series B funding from Future Positive, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, LowerCarbon Capital, Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, Saltwater Capital, Ellen DeGeneres, ReGen Ventures, MCJ Collective, AirAngels, Seaya Ventures’ Andromeda, and Wollemi Capital. (concert lineup)

🌱 Vitro Labs, a Milipitas, CA-based startup making cell-cultivated leather, raised $46m in Series A funding from Agronomics, Kering SA, Invest FWD, Khosla Ventures, Leonardo DiCaprio, New Agrarian, and Regeneration.VC

🍫 Voyage Foods, an Oakland, CA-based startup creating environmentally sustainable food alternatives for products like peanut butter and chocolate, raised $36m in Series A funding from UBS O’Connor, Level One Fund, Horizons Ventures, SOSV’s Indie Bio, and Social Impact Capital.

🌱 Tomorrow Farms, a New York, NY-based startup partnering with deep tech food companies to build a portfolio of "next-generation" food products, raised $8.5m in Seed funding from Lowercarbon Capital, Maveron, Valor Siren Ventures, Simple Food Ventures, and SV Angel.

☀️ Optivolt, San Mateo, CA-based developer of shade tolerant solar systems to power electric devices and machines, raised $8.2m in Seed funding from Atlas Innovate, Social Impact Capital, Alpha Bridge Ventures, City Light Capital, and others.

⚡ Amperon, a Houston, TX and New York, NY-based provider of AI-powered grid forecasts, raised $7m in Series A funding from HSBC Climate Tech Venture Capital Fund, Riverstone Holdings, Muus Asset Management, and Climate Capital.

💨 Goodcarbon, a Germany-based investment and trading platform for climate solutions, raised over $5.3m in funding from Planet A Ventures, 468 Capital, and angel investors.

💵 YvesBlue, a New York, NY-based startup that tracks ESG compliance for financial institutions, raised $5m in Seed funding from Illuminate Financial, Aflac Ventures, Tribeca Early Stage Partners, SixThirty, Day One Ventures, and Walter Ventures.

🌱 Infrascreen, a Switzerland-based provider of nanotech solutions for energy-efficient greenhouses, raised $1.5m in Seed funding from Investbridge Capital and ACE & Company.

♻️  Lineat Composites, a UK-based startup using reclaimed carbon fiber used to manufacture new composite components that can be commercially recycled, raised an undisclosed amount in Seed funding from UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund and SFC Capital.

⚡ Tan90, an India-based provider of portable cold storage intended to simplify the transportation of temperature-controlled products, raised $653k in pre-Series A funding from Blue Ashva Capital, 3i Partners, and angel investors.

🌱 Garuda Aerospace, an India-based drone-as-a-solution startup aimed at increasing efficiency and reducing cost of production in various sectors including agriculture, raised an undisclosed amount in a pre-Series A funding from Ocgrow Ventures and angel investors.

Exits & New Funds:

Apollo launched a comprehensive sustainable investing platform focused on the energy transition and industry decarbonization, through which it aims to deploy over $100b (!) by 2030.

Marble launched as a new deeptech startup studio aiming to accelerate the development of technologies and solutions necessary for “difficult to decarbonize” sectors.


In the News

A big week for new Californian climate schools. John & Ann Doerr donated a record $1.1b to kickstart Stanford’s new climate school doubling down on climate and sustainability as the new “computer science”. In the same week, Caltech broke ground on their new $750m sustainability school.

The US Justice Department and the EPA formed a new Environmental Justice office to enforce environmental policy violations that disproportionately impact marginalized communities.

The US Department of Energy unveiled their $2.3b initiatives to reduce and manage carbon. Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the notice of intent details how the DOE will build out permanent geologic storage sites, fund investments in new CCS technologies, and reduce the cost of CO2 abatement down to below $100/ton.

After the US Government launched an investigation on 80% of the US solar supply chain, solar deployment delays have been piling up everywhere, causing utilities to push solar online dates as far back as 1.5 years. Meanwhile, Biden announced a new $3.1b grant to boost domestic battery supply. But stalling today’s solar deployment and waiting for future domestic batteries to ramp leaves us in a clean energy drought.

Methane’s combustible moment continues. The World Bank details how methane flaring reduction efforts have stalled in the last decade despite studies showing that controlling methane emissions could shave 0.5C off our current global warming trajectory. We covered methane flaring and Crusoe Energy’s solution here.

The heat wave in South Asia sent temperatures past 120F in South Asia. Across the Pacific, folks in Southern California brace for another summer of water shortages, leading to the harshest water restrictions in the state.


Pop-up

The nuclear option. The Washington Post explores why nuclear energy may need a rebrand.

Bidirectional charging could help drivers power their electric cars and their homes. But are they ready for your garage?

The dams are damned. According to a new study from the Associated Press, more than 2,200 dams - representing 52% of clean generation in the U.S. - are in poor condition.

Noah Smith discusses the future of energy and climate policy with Ramez Naam in an incredible interview.

With rigorous climate budgeting and planning, Oslo, Norway pioneers zero-emission city living.

Jules Kortenhorst announces his decision to step down as CEO of RMI later this year.

Frunky fresh. EV manufacturers and owners make the most of their front trunks - or “frunks”.

Bitcoin’s biggest names urge the EPA not to regulate the climate impacts of crypto mining.

In a new profile of RJ Scaringe, the Financial Times dubs Rivian’s CEO the “anti-Elon” as he works to advance electric trucking.


Opportunities & Events:

💡 Real-Time Energy Monitoring (RTEM): Apply by May 23rd with a solution that can accelerate the decarbonization of commercial and multi-family buildings and become a part of NYSERDA’s Hackathon awarding $55k in cash awards.

💡 LACI Innovators & Incubation: Apply by May 31st to join LACI’s Innovator or Incubation program which is searching for ambitious cleantech startups developing solutions who could benefit from an advanced program curriculum which helps develop products, establish strategic partnerships, and provide capital to entrepreneurs.

🗓 AirMiners XPRIZE: Join on May 18th to hear from select AirMiners’ startups and entrepreneurs who will talk through their stories and discuss what’s next following their achievement of a Milestone Award from the $100M XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition.

🗓 Elemental Interactive: Tune in on May 25th or attend the in-person version (for investors only) of Elemental Excelerator’s gathering of investors and entrepreneurs from their most recent Cohort of startups selected from a pool of 600 applicants.

🗓 We’ll be at Aspen Ideas: Climate conference this week, drop us a line to say hey if around!


Jobs

**Managing Editor @Climate Tech VC

Head of Communications & Marketing @The Engine

Climate Associate @SecondMuse

Investor, Frontier Fund @Energy Impact Partners

Senior Analyst/ Associate @Angeleno Group

Investor @Overture VC

Climate Tech VC Fellowship @World Fund

Sustainability Analyst @Minimum

Supply Manager US @Carbonfuture

Product Manager @Flux Auto

Software Engineer @99 Counties

Business Development, Marketplace Partnerships @Cloverly


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

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