HomeCarbon NewsThe Biggest Funding Surges in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Tech

The Biggest Funding Surges in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Tech

January was surprisingly vibrant, with major companies securing impressive funding rounds of hundreds of millions, defying the typical post-holiday lull. Crunchbase data shows that included in the biggest rounds last month are companies that are into renewable energy and agtech, while investors’ money is also flowing into water tech startups.

An industry report indicates that investment in clean energy technologies and infrastructure is experiencing a substantial surge, surpassing spending on fossil fuels. This trend is driven by growing affordability of clean energy, particularly renewables, and security concerns. 

As a result, momentum is building behind more sustainable options in the energy sector. Two companies operating in the sector, Generate Capital and Recurrent Energy, raised the biggest funding per Crunchbase database. 

Renewable Energy is Powering the Future

Generate Capital secured a substantial $1.5 billion in funding for renewable energy projects. This San Francisco-based green infrastructure investor and operator had previously raised $1.1 billion early in 2023, following a $1 billion raise in 2021. 

The recent round saw contributions from various investors, including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. Generate specializes in investing in diverse infrastructure projects, ranging from community solar systems to municipal wastewater treatment and electrifying fleets. 

Since its inception in 2014, Generate has amassed a total funding of $4.2 billion.

The company specializes in building, owning, operating, and financing sustainable resource infrastructure, focusing on four major categories:

  • Sustainable Power: This includes energy efficiency and storage, fuel cells, green hydrogen, and solar energy projects.
  • Sustainable Mobility: Generate engages in developing charging stations, electric and hydrogen vehicles, and sustainable fuels to promote eco-friendly transportation solutions.
  • Sustainable Water & Waste: Projects under this category span across biogas, renewable natural gas (RNG), precision agriculture, carbon capture and storage, and recycling initiatives.
  • Sustainable Cities.

Through its diverse portfolio spanning these areas, Generate contributes to the advancement of sustainability across various sectors of the economy.

Another energy startup, Recurrent Energy, headquartered in Austin, Texas, received a noteworthy $500 million preferred equity investment from BlackRock. This recent investment supports Recurrent Energy’s endeavors in utility-scale solar and energy storage project development, ownership, and operations. The fundraising aims to foster the growth of the company’s high-value project development pipeline. 

A subsidiary of Canadian Solar, Recurrent Energy will maintain the majority of its shares post-investment. Established in 2006, Recurrent Energy has raised a total of around $1.4 billion in funding.

To date, the company successfully developed 9 gigawatts peak (GWp) of solar energy projects and 3 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of battery storage projects spanning six continents. Around the world, Recurrent has a pipeline of ~25 GWp in solar and 47 GWh in battery storage under development. 

The Seeds of Change

Unusually making it to the top list of last month’s fundraising is an agtech startup based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Inari. The company secured $103 million in funding for its agtech innovations. 

Specializing in AI-powered predictive design and multiplex gene editing, Inari focuses on developing higher-yielding seeds with reduced water requirements. The technology particularly targets crops like corn and soybeans. 

The biotech company’s process operates within the natural DNA of plants, so modifications are similar to those observed in traditional breeding methods. However, their technology offers significantly greater precision and efficiency, requiring fewer resources and, notably, accelerating the process considerably.

While no lead investor was specified, notable contributions came from entities like Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Rivas Capital. Since its founding in 2016, Inari has raised a total of $575 million in funding.

Water Tech Startup’s Thirst for Innovation

Despite a widespread contraction in venture investment globally, funding for startups focusing on water purification and conservation technologies has remained resilient in recent quarters. 

An analysis of Crunchbase data reveals that investment in various water industry categories has not dried up. Surprisingly, funding totals for 2023 surpassed those of the more buoyant startup financing climate of 2021. And the trend has continued into this year, showing a robust start in terms of investment in water-related startups.

funding to water tech companies Crunchbase

Source, a company headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, specializes in manufacturing solar-powered devices designed to extract drinkable water from the atmosphere. 

The startup designs the world’s first renewable drinking water system. Its hydropanel is like a solar panel, but instead of generating energy, it creates clean, safe drinking water without electric hookups or infrastructure.

Established a decade ago, the company has garnered significant investor interest, having raised over $360 million to date. Notably, Breakthrough Energy Ventures is among its leading backers. 

Source’s proprietary hydro panels are currently operational in some of the world’s driest regions, generating water from atmospheric humidity. A single Source Hydropanel eliminates the need for 54,000 single-use plastic water bottles over its 15-year lifespan.

January’s robust funding rounds demonstrate a clear shift towards sustainable energy and agtech innovations. Companies like Generate Capital, Recurrent Energy, Inari, and Source are spearheading the charge, backed by significant investments to propel their environmentally conscious solutions forward.

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