Climate tech has been receiving a lot of attention recently, and for good reason. According to experts, global emissions need to be cut 45% by 2030 to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
These companies – which are developing products and services ranging from long-duration batteries to land use planning software – can play a key role in decarbonizing the global economy.
After talking to experts in the space, The Hustle compiled a list of some of the most innovative and exciting climate tech companies to watch in 2023.
Top climate tech companies
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Best for: Solar developers and farmers looking to optimize production
What they do: Astraea has developed a SaaS platform that sources and analyzes satellite imagery. This geospatial tool can be used for developers who are building solar farms and looking to optimize productivity, or for farmers looking to develop regenerative farms.
Why it matters: Purchasing detailed land images from satellite imagery providers is expensive. Astraea provides a more affordable tool that’s useful to smaller companies looking to develop renewable energy and agricultural projects.
Location: Pasadena, California
Best for: Carbon capture
What they do: Direct air capture is a process that extracts carbon from the atmosphere. Once sequestered, the carbon can be stored underground or used to make plastic, concrete, fuel, and other industrial products.
CarbonCapture is trying to lower the cost of this process by using inexpensive commercial catalysts called zeolites to absorb carbon.
The company is currently working on Project Bison – a facility in Wyoming that’s aiming to capture 5m metric tons of CO2 a year by 2030. Project Bison is expected to be the first “massively scalable” direct air capture project in the US.
Why it matters: Carbon capture technology is relatively new, and it’s currently prohibitively expensive. Experimenting with low-cost catalysts, as CarbonCapture is doing, could get the world closer to affordable direct air capture solutions.
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Best for: Making environmentally friendly cement
What they do: Once carbon is captured, figuring out where to store it can be quite challenging.
CarbonCure has developed a process for injecting captured carbon into water, which can be used to make concrete. When the carbon-infused water binds with the rest of the ingredients in the concrete mixture, it also makes the end product stronger, the company told The Washington Post.
Why it matters: Cement, the key ingredient in concrete, is responsible for ~7% of global carbon emissions. Concrete is also the second-most-used resource on Earth, after water.
CarbonCure’s process for making cement has the potential to turn concrete into a carbon sink, absorbing carbon rather than emitting it.
Location: Wiener Neudorf, Austria
Best for: Utility and industrial storage of renewable energy
What they do: CellCube makes energy storage systems with a type of long-duration battery: vanadium redox flow. The company’s battery systems are being used at more than 130 sites across the globe, including a mining plant in South Africa, a medical device company in California, and an EV charging station in Switzerland.
Why it matters: Vanadium, the metallic element used to make these batteries, is more abundant than lithium, and there are large supplies of it across the US.
Compared to lithium-ion batteries, vanadium redox flow batteries are also cheaper to buy for industrial and grid applications; they don’t degrade quickly (as Li-ion batteries do); and there’s no risk of combustion. Vanadium redox flow batteries hold promise for being able to store large amounts of renewable energy at utility scale.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Best for: Supporting the EV infrastructure ramp-up
What they do: ChargerHelp! hires, trains, and dispatches technicians to fix EV charging stations. CEO Kameale Terry started developing the business idea while working at a company that made software for charging stations.
Nneka Kibuule, a principal at Aligned Climate Capital, describes ChargerHelp! as an AAA (of sorts) for EV charging stations. Its technicians are familiar with chargers’ communications and point-of-sale systems, and are trained to remedy issues specific to chargers.
Why it matters:The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – a ~$90B investment in public transportation upgrades – allocates $7.5B for building out a network of 500kEV charging stations across the US.
As charging stations are rapidly deployed, ChargerHelp! is poised to help them stay in service.
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Best for: Carbon capture
What they do: Climeworks is behind the largest direct air capture storage plant in the world, located in Iceland. As part of an effort to invest in innovation in the sector, Microsoft, Stripe, and Shopify have all purchased future carbon removal services from Climeworks.
Why it matters: According to the latest IPCC report, direct air capture technology will be needed to be implemented to achieve net-zero emission goals. Climeworks raised $650m in 2022 to further develop its technology.
7. Form Energy
Location: Somerville, Massachusetts
Best for: Storing renewable energy at utility scale
What they do: Form Energy makes batteries for the renewable energy grid. They’re developing an iron air battery that can store electricity for 100 hrs and is cost competitive with energy from legacy power plants.
Why it matters: Currently, renewable energy from the grid is stored in lithium-ion batteries, but this method is pricey and the energy can only be stored (affordably) for a handful of hours. Form’s technology can deliver longer-duration batteries needed to power the grid.
Raised $450m in Series E funding (2022)
Co-founder and CEO Mateo Jaramillo helped develop the Tesla Powerwall, a battery system that stores energy produced by at-home solar panels
8. Impossible Foods
Location: Redwood City, California
Best for: Meat lovers who want to eat less meat
What they do: Impossible Foods makes plant-based beef, chicken, and pork. Their “meat” is on the menu at chains like Applebee’s, Qdoba, and Umami Burger.
Why it matters: The average person living in the US consumes about 55 pounds of beef per year. And about 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions related to raising and growing food can be attributed to beef.
A lot of people regularly forgoing the real thing in favor of its plant-based counterpart could have a significant impact on emissions.
Impossible Foods has raised a total of $1.9B in funding
“Alternative protein” startups won 8% of climate tech-related venture capital dollars during 2022, making it one of the hottest sub-sectors in climate tech
Location: Berlin, Germany
Best for: Managing and reducing your own carbon footprint
What they do: Klima is an app that tracks your carbon footprint, shows pathways to reduce it, and helps you purchase carbon offsets.
Once you download the app, you quickly answer questions like: What are your flying habits? How much do you drive? And how often do you shop? The app then calculates your estimated personal carbon footprint and presents ways for you “to go carbon neutral immediately and sustainably.”
Why it matters: If everybody – or a majority of the population – reduces their carbon footprint, it’ll put a real dent in emissions: 72% of greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by consumer behavior, according to Klima’s website.
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Best for: Scaling up EV battery manufacturing in western countries
What they do: Northvolt makes lithium-ion batteries for EVs. The best-funded startup in Europe, it’s responsible for building Europe’s “first homegrown battery factory” in Skellefteå, Sweden.
The goal is for the Skellefteå factory to be able to produce batteries for at least 1m cars per year. Encouraged by incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act, Northvolt is planning on opening a new battery factory in the US.
Why it matters: Lack of batteries is holding up the pace of EV production – and most EV batteries are currently made in China. (Right now, Chinese-based Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. has ~37% of the market share alone.)
As Northvolt scales, it’s expected to help supply the American and European EV markets, which could be important for both emissions and national security purposes.
Won the most VC funding awarded to a climate tech company during 2022 ($1.1B), per Climate Tech VC
Client list includes BMW and Volkswagen
Has $55B of orders in the pipeline
11. Oneka Technologies
Location: Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
Best for: Making salt water drinkable
What they do: Oneka Technologies focuses on desalination technology, which involves removing salt from salt water. Each of Oneka’s desalination units can produce drinkable water for 20-1.5k people per day, and the units do not require electricity.
Why it matters: Globally, about 2B people lack access to clean drinking water, and about half of the world experiences extreme water scarcity for some portion of the year, according to the UN. A majority of the population, however, lives within 125 miles of the coast.
Location: Arvada, Colorado
Best for: Regenerative agriculture
What they do: Propagate gives farmers access to software, planning, and financing tools that allow them to transition to agroforestry and regenerative farming practices.
The software helps with farm design and gives insights into which crops to grow where.
Why it matters: About 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture and food production. Integrating intelligent agroforestry (e.g., planting fruit trees, nut trees, and/or trees that can be harvested for timber) can lessen greenhouse gas emissions, enrich farmers, and benefit the food system.
Location: New York, New York
Best for: Upcycling food waste
What they do: Make organic, hydroponic nutrients for indoor growers that are sourced from food waste. Re-Nuble produces ~50k gallons of its liquid nutrients each month. Its customer base includes greenhouse and vertical farmers.
Why it matters: Soil emits methane and nitrous oxide, and land being used for agriculture emits even higher levels of these greenhouse gases.
Also, about one-third of the food produced in the US is wasted, creating annual carbon dioxide emissions equal to 42 coal-fired power plants, according to the USDA.
Utilizing food waste to grow crops without soil can reduce emissions while minimizing waste.
Location: New York, New York
Best for: Reducing carbon footprints at home
What they do: Sealed designs and facilitates home upgrade plans that improve energy efficiency. Common upgrades include replacing oil and gas heaters with heat pumps, air sealing, installing insulation, and switching to LED light bulbs.
Why it matters: Energy-efficiency-focused home upgrades save customers money on utility bills, reduce indoor air pollution, and lower carbon emissions. But the upfront costs can be prohibitively expensive.
Sealed covers the upfront costs associated with home upgrades and then charges the homeowner a monthly fee, based on the energy savings the company’s machine-learning algorithms predict.
15. Swell Energy
Location: Los Angeles, California
Best for: Reducing carbon footprints at home
What they do: Swell Energy sells home lithium-ion battery systems that connect to solar panels, allowing users to generate and store their own power.
Customers use the Swell battery system in conjunction with electricity from the traditional power grid. And Swell’s underlying software can manage users’ energy consumption, shifting usage from the grid to the battery system when rates rise during peak hours, for example.
Why it’s important: With extreme weather events on the rise, power outages are occurring more frequently. Swell’s battery system can serve as a backup generator for users if the power goes out, and it has the potential to take pressure off the grid.
Raised $120m in 2022 to develop 600 megawatt-hours (MWh) of virtual power plants across 26k energy storage systems in homes and businesses around the US
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