New York, April 14th, 2022 – BloombergNEF (BNEF) today announced the twelve winners of its 2022 BNEF Pioneers – early-stage companies that are pursuing significant low-carbon opportunities. The winners’ innovations fill important gaps that address the challenges of generating 24/7 clean power, achieving net-negative carbon-capture, and decarbonizing aviation. Additionally, BNEF selected three wildcard winners.
Since the inception of the BNEF Pioneers program over a decade ago, cheap, clean technologies such as renewable energy and electric vehicles have seen continuous growth and uptake. Although these technologies have the potential to decarbonize large parts of the world economy, there are still many hurdles to fully achieving net-zero emissions. With this decade being pivotal in reaching long-term decarbonization goals, the Pioneers awards recognize transformative technology solutions that fill some remaining net-zero innovation gaps. This year BNEF called for nominations from companies, non-profits and projects that specifically addressed three climate-tech innovation areas:
- Providing round-the-clock zero-emissions power
- Scaling long-term carbon removal technologies
- Decarbonizing aviation
The competition received over 270 applications from 27 different countries. A team of lead analysts at BloombergNEF evaluated candidates against three criteria: the potential impact on greenhouse gas emissions and the planet, the degree of technology innovation and novelty, and the likelihood of adoption and potential scalability.
The 2022 BNEF Pioneers by challenge:
Challenge 1: Providing round-the-clock zero-emissions power
- Energy Dome (Italy) has invented a CO2 battery to make long-duration energy storage an economically viable proposition.
- Kairos Power (U.S.) has developed a novel advanced nuclear reactor technology to complement renewable energy sources.
- Nuvve (U.S.) offers a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology to manage power among EV batteries and the grid.
- Reactive Technologies (U.K.) helps grid operators, electric utilities, and regulators to measure grid inertia more accurately.
Challenge 2: Scaling long-term carbon removal technologies
- Carbfix (Iceland) captures CO2 and turns it into stone underground in less than two years.
- Climate Robotics (U.S.) develops agricultural implements to produce biochar – a soil amendment that improves soil health while sequestering carbon.
- Verdox’s (U.S.) technology removes CO2 from industrial emissions and the air with 70% energy savings versus conventional approaches.
Challenge 3: Decarbonizing aviation
- Twelve (U.S.) transforms captured CO2 into critical chemicals, which can be made into materials and fuels, using a patented CO2 PEM electrolyzer.
- ZeroAvia (U.S.) designs and develops zero-emission, hydrogen-electric aviation powertrains, targeting a 500-mile range for a 10–20 seat aircraft.
- Addionics’s (Israel) 3D electrodes increase energy density and power, enhance safety, extend lifetime, and lower cost for lithium-ion batteries with any chemistry.
- Blue Frontier (U.S.) combines efficient building air conditioning products with integral, low-cost energy storage.
- Carbon Clean’s (U.K.) technology reduces the costs of carbon capture when compared to existing solutions.
Claire Curry, selection committee co-chair and global head of technology, industry & innovation research at BloombergNEF, commented: “This year we selected three specific areas – 24/7 power, negative carbon removal and decarbonizing aviation – where BNEF believes new technologies must play an important role in decarbonization. We are cognizant of how essential new technologies are for tackling climate change, and how hard it is to scale innovation. Since 2010, this award has been a positive influence on climate-tech innovation, and we believe it is now more urgent than ever to highlight the technology gaps to reaching net-zero and the entrepreneurs addressing them.”
While solar, wind and batteries will be able to provide 75% of power demand in the future, other technologies will be essential to reach net-zero. BNEF Pioneers solve these issues in a number of ways, with Reactive Technologies measuring grid inertia to allow more renewables integration, Kairos Power increasing the safety of nuclear power, Nuvve increasing vehicle-to-grid adoption, and Energy Dome allowing for long-term energy storage via CO2 liquefaction.
Carbon removal from the atmosphere and its effective sequestration for long periods of time will increase in importance to meet decarbonization goals. Verdox’s new electrochemical direct-air-capture technology allows for energy-efficient carbon removal at any location, Carbfix can sequester captured CO2 in sub-surface stone, and Climate Robotics allows biomass-trapped carbon to be sequestered back into soil as biochar.
Commercial aviation is one of the hardest sectors to abate, as certifications for new aircraft technologies require lengthy processes and take a long time to integrate once certified, given 30+ year lifespans of aircraft. Sustainable aviation fuels are one solution, which Twelve’s CO2 electrolyzer and technology can play a key role in producing. Another route is zero-emission fuels aircraft, such as those propelled by hydrogen drivetrains, which ZeroAvia is in the process of constructing.
Alongside these three challenge areas BNEF selected three wildcard winners – innovations that did not fit specifically in the selected challenge areas but each address unique decarbonization issues. Addionics integrates 3D electrodes into batteries, Carbon Clean increases efficiency and decreases the cost of point-source carbon-capture, and Blue Frontier uses load shifting AC units to reduce building emissions.
Quotes from the 2022 BNEF Pioneers:
“Better performing, safer and cheaper batteries are integral to increasing EV adoption and realizing a net zero future. We are deeply honored to receive this recognition for our efforts to build the best battery architecture in the world and unlock the full potential of next-generation chemistries. With the support of our OEM and supplier partners, we look forward to accelerating our product development and laying the groundwork for commercialization in support of global electrification.”
Moshiel Biton, CEO, Addionics
“We at Blue Frontier are beyond excited about this recognition. This validates our mission to eliminate the tremendous climate impact of indoor comfort systems. We at Blue Frontier are developing next-generation air conditioners that not only have dramatically higher efficiencies than conventional units, but also intelligently shift their electricity consumption to match grid renewable energy generation, without compromising the comfort of building occupants. Widespread deployment of our units will fundamentally change the load shape of buildings, making them compatible with low-cost net-zero grids. This is an enormous mission and through this award BloombergNEF and its partners are lending us a big hand in helping us achieve it.”
Daniel Betts, CEO, Blue Frontier
“We are proud, honored, and grateful to have been selected as a 2022 BNEF Pioneer winner. The award comes at an exciting time for Carbfix, as we work towards implementing our proven technology on a significantly larger scale than before. The potential for applying permanent CO2 mineral storage in basalts around the globe is enormous, and increasingly being recognized. We are very much looking forward to maximizing the impact of the Carbfix technology in coming years.”
Edda Aradottir, CEO, Carbfix
“It’s an honour to be selected as a 2022 BNEF Pioneer winner – this recognition highlights the critical role carbon capture technologies will play in transitioning to a net zero world. Carbon Clean is revolutionising industrial decarbonisation for essential hard-to-abate industries such as cement, steel, refineries and energy from waste. Our latest breakthrough product, CycloneCC, reduces the size of carbon capture technology by 10x and physical footprint by 5x. Inclusion in the program reinforces the impact we’re making to enable capturing 1 billion tonnes of CO2.”
Aniruddha Sharma, CEO, Carbon Clean
“We are honored to be selected along with so many amazing companies helping to decarbonize our planet. At Climate Robotics, we are developing solutions to durably sequester atmospheric carbon in the soil as biochar, while improving the economics of commercial row-crop agriculture. By deploying our equipment on farms around the world, we will sustainably increase global soil health while sequestering over 1 billion tonnes of CO2 each year.”
Jason Aramburu, CEO, Climate Robotics
“For years, BloombergNEF has been the stand-out information platform in the global energy sector. To be selected by them as a 2022 BNEF Pioneer is not only a huge honor but also a strong validation of our product, the CO2 Battery, of which we are truly proud. We believe that our approach, relying on tried and tested components, combined with a low cost and high efficiency, paves the way for rapid adoption of the CO2 Battery in the global power sector. We believe that the CO2 Battery will help to significantly accelerate the energy transition by replacing baseload fossil fuels with fully dispatchable solar and wind energy.”
Claudio Spadacini, CEO, Energy Dome
“Kairos Power is thrilled to be named a 2022 BNEF Pioneer; it’s an honor to be the first advanced nuclear company recognized in the award’s 13-year history. We believe nuclear power is necessary to fight climate change and we must deliver a cost-competitive and safe technology to achieve our mission of enabling the world’s transition to clean energy. Kairos Power’s dedicated team is working hard every day to solve difficult problems and accomplish a feat that has never been done before. We are grateful to have BNEF Pioneers award recognition as we progress on our path toward commercialization.”
Mike Laufer, CEO, Kairos Power
“We’re proud BloombergNEF has named Nuvve a Pioneers winner in recognition of our work utilizing vehicle-to-grid to intelligently introduce electric vehicles to the grid and better harness renewable energies as the world moves towards closing the zero-emissions gap. As the electrification of everything unfolds simultaneously with decarbonization, the challenge of synchronizing energy production with load becomes more complex. At Nuvve, we’re focused on intelligently electrifying the planet and are grateful for our ecosystem of partners and customers who are aligning with us to blaze a new path – a path for the world to follow.”
Gregory Poilasne, CEO, Nuvve
“2021 was a transformational year for Reactive with a record fundraising involving Breakthrough Energy Ventures, BGF and Eaton and a first commercial deployment of our Grid-Sonar technology with U.K. electricity system operator National Grid ESO. 2022 is the year of our international expansion as we will continue to enter more markets with our strategic partners. By supporting resilience for power grids, throughout the transition to 100% continuous clean energy, with first-of-its-kind real-time grid measurement data, we aim to help as many operators and utilities as possible get to net zero safer and faster. We are honored to receive this prestigious recognition from BloombergNEF, for the work we have already done and the huge potential that we have.”
Marc Borrett, CEO, Reactive Technologies
“Addressing the climate crisis will require new, innovative technologies in all sectors. As we scale and develop new partnerships with globally-leading brands in some of the hardest-to-abate industries, we are helping companies address emissions and pave the way for a fossil-free future. We’re proud to be recognized as 2022 BNEF Pioneer for E-Jet, our carbon-neutral jet fuel, which will enable commercial aviation to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.”
Nicholas Flanders, CEO, Twelve
“Verdox is very pleased to be recognized as a 2022 Pioneers company. We believe carbon removal will be essential to humanity’s sustainable development, but it will never be deployed at a significant scale if the required energy and cost cannot be reduced significantly. We launched Verdox two years ago on the promise of our novel electrochemical carbon capture system, which has been shown to reduce the energy penalty for capture by up to 70%. The future of carbon removal will be electric.”
Brian Baynes, CEO, Verdox
“Being included in such a prestigious program as BNEF Pioneers shows that our mission – using hydrogen-electric engines to tackle the aviation sector’s full climate impact – is seen as an imperative. We are initially targeting the regional commercial aviation market with our hydrogen-electric powertrain for 19-seat aircraft with trips up to 500 miles. However, as we scale, we will implement the technology into larger aircraft and be able to fly for longer trips. We believe that with our zero-emission technology, we can reduce life cycle greenhouse gas emissions by more than 90 per cent and simultaneously substantially reduce operating costs, thus enabling more people to fly with all of the positive societal impacts that brings.”
Valery Miftakhov, CEO, ZeroAvia