ClimateTech Updates For February 2021

Humanity’s beautiful lifeboat. Source: NASA

This article is the first installment of my column’s new feature, ClimateTech Updates. In ClimateTech Update articles, I pass along the latest news about companies I have featured in previous columns.

The inaugural update covers:

Xpansiv

I wrote about this amazing company last August in the article Using Big Data And The Power Of Markets To Solve Climate Change.

Xpansiv gathers traceable production data to differentiate clean commodities from dirty ones, hereby empowering the free markets to decide what a low carbon footprint is worth. Xpansiv then provides investors a global market for an expanding ecosystem of proven environmental commodities like Renewable Energy Certificates, carbon offsets, and differentiated fuels.

With Xpansiv’s technology and framework in place, clean commodity producers can get paid for both the physical commodity and its digital twin — a tradeable asset that Xpansiv calls Digital Feedstock. The Digital Feedstock file contains data about production methods to create “Intelligent Commodities” that provide a clear path to net-zero. It’s a beautiful, brilliant idea that has the potential to be as disruptive to commodity markets as Napster was to record labels.

The big news for Xpansiv is that, in January, the firm announced it had raised another round of pre-IPO capital to the tune of $40 million. The new round of funding — which came from both existing and new investors — demonstrates the strength of Xpansiv’s innovative offerings in two ways.

First, the firm had originally only planned to raise $35 million, but ended up expanding the round to accommodate strong investor demand. Pro Tip: when people want to write you a check that is seven figures larger than the one you were looking for, that’s a good sign.

Second, the fact that existing investors upped their bets suggests that they see the potential in the company and didn’t want their positions to be diluted in the raise. Keep in mind that one of the companies that had already invested in Xpansiv is Oxy Low Carbon Ventures — one of the smartest and most strategic investors in this space. Pro Tip: when the smart money decides to increase the size of their bet, that’s a good sign.

(By the way, OLCV is a division of Occidental Petroleum, an old-school carbon miner that just delivered the world’s first carbon-neutral crude.)

The last bit of exciting Xpansiv news is that, according to CEO Joe Madden, the firm is eyeing a listing on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) in an initial public offering sometime in 2021.

To quote Madden.

Subject to market conditions, all key existing and potential investors are supportive of the plan to list on the ASX in 2021. The capital will be used to fund growth initiatives that continue to strategically position Xpansiv for success.

I ended my last article about Xpansiv with the sentence “Time to follow the smart money….” Looks like that time is nigh for anyone who can trade the ASX!

Using Xpansiv’s technology, commodity tanks of gasoline turn into multi-dimensional “Digital Feedstock” — a digital asset that contains information about how that gasoline was made. Source: Xpansiv.com

PrairieFood

I last wrote about this Kansas-based start-up in September 2019 in an article entitled Capitalism vs Climate Change: The Case of PrairieFood. I kept up with the company’s progress during 2020 and will be featuring them again in a series planned for March about carbon sequestration.

PrairieFood is an amazingly innovative AgTech company that has invented a reactor system capable of turning waste organic matter (e.g., cow manure from dairy farms, sludge from sewage treatment plants, etc.) into a 100% clean and organic soil amendment for organic or conventional fields. The amendment, PrairieFood, creates soil that plants love so much they grow like crazy.

The big news for PrairieFood is that the company just released a field trial report for the 2020 growing season and the results are truly outstanding, from fields growing 20+ different crops — alfalfa to corn.

The study shows a notable improvement in soil health. After applying PrairieFood to organic crops, soil organic matter (SOM) — a key variable for farmers that relates to plant health and nutrition — increased spectacularly. One corn field gained 1.2 percentage points of SOM during one season — an improvement that normally would take on the order of 12 years. Soil health and microbial activity — two other key drivers of robust plant growth — also showed enormous improvement.

Happy soils translate into higher yields and higher yields translate into more revenues for farmers. The maximum increase in yield after applying PrairieFood to corn fields was 42 bushels per acre; that equates to a boost in farm revenue of over $150 / acre based on 2020 average corn prices. A large family farm is around 1,400 acres, that works out to an additional $210,000 in revenue.

I love this company and can’t wait to write about them in next month’s feature series.

Flowers love PrairieFood as well. These are photos from an earlier test of PrairieFood by an organic flower grower. Source: PrairieFood.com

Carbon Engineering

I have been writing about Carbon Engineering for a few years now and had the pleasure of visiting the company’s R&D site in beautiful Squamish, British Columbia in the summer of 2019. CE is on the vanguard of Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology and is the first company to have a truly industrial-scale solution to remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere. I last wrote about CE in October of last year in an article entitled Carbon Engineering’s Licenses To Print Money.

The big news for CE is that this January, it was awarded the 2021 North American Company of the Year Award by Cleantech Group, and was listed on Greentech’s Global Cleantech 100 list for the second year running.

Of course, the financial markets have already rewarded Carbon Engineering’s approach with tens of millions of green sheets of paper but being included in the Cleantech 100 list is a notable accomplishment as well. Prior Cleantech 100 lists have included companies like Tesla, Airbnb, Beyond Meat, and Uber. Prior winners of the North American Company of the Year Award include Impossible Foods, Proterra, Nest, and CarbonCure Technologies.

Keep your eyes open for more about Carbon Engineering in the March series on carbon sequestration technologies.

Carbon Engineering’s R&D Center and Test Facility in Squamish, BC. Source: CarbonEngineering.com

1PointFive

I wrote about 1PointFive — a company whose CEO, Jim McDermott, is on the board of Carbon Engineering — in the article Carbon Engineering’s Licenses To Print Money. McDermott’s investment company partnered with Occidental Petroleum to form 1PointFive last August. The joint venture acquired a license to use Carbon Engineering’s DAC technology and leverage Occidental’s geological and engineering expertise and will build the first industrial-scale DAC plant in the Permian Basin of Texas.

The Washington Post published a story about the big news for 1PointFive — namely, United Airlines publicly announced it would invest in the DAC venture and would pay to have 1PointFive sequester CO2 in its Permian Basin plant. The Post story quotes McDermott and Carbon Engineering’s CEO Steve Oldham and discusses why United prefers sequestration to buying carbon credits in the offset market.

With the Biden Administration all in on climate-related infrastructure projects and with influential and deep-pocketed partners piling into the investment, 1PointFive has a strong wind at its back.

Engineering rendering of 1PointFive’s planned DAC plant in the Permian Basin of Texas. Source: 1PointFive.com

These leading companies know, as I know, that if civilization is to thrive and survive, it must create new ways of operating and new models for resource usage and sustainability. Their products and services represent the best of human ingenuity and the power of capitalistic adaptation and innovation.

Intelligent investors take note.

Originally published at https://www.forbes.com.

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Erik Kobayashi-Solomon

Erik Kobayashi-Solomon

Passionate about harnessing the power of the free market to solve humanity’s biggest adaptation challenge.

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