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Cleantech Outlook 2022: Momentum Shows No Sign of Slowing Down

Click here to read the previous cleantech outlook.For the past few years, the cleantech sector has been gathering interest from investors as the world turns to green energy sources to fight climate change.Cleantech spans several industry verticals, includ

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Click here to read the previous cleantech outlook.

For the past few years, the cleantech sector has been gathering interest from investors as the world turns to green energy sources to fight climate change.

Cleantech spans several industry verticals, including renewable energy generation, energy storage, energy efficiency, transportation, air and environment, clean industry, water and agriculture.

With 2021 now in full swing, the Investing News Network (INN) spoke to experts and market participants in the cleantech field to discuss their outlook for the industry. Continue reading to learn what they had to say.


Cleantech trends 2021: The year in review


Following an uncertain 2020 that saw the cleantech sector gain traction and stocks perform strongly, in 2021 attention from investors was set on the COVID-19 recovery path. At the end of last year, most experts and market watchers were optimistic, expecting another strong year for the cleantech space.

Speaking with INN about whether his forecast for the sector in 2021 was correct, Yuan-Sheng Yu of Lux Research said the momentum is still there and many of the larger themes predicted for 2021 came to fruition.

“Hydrogen was the big winner,” he said. “There were several multi-billion-dollar investments announced in the space from both the private and public sector.”

The UK officially launched its hydrogen strategy, which has the goal of using hydrogen to provide 20–35 percent of the UK's energy by 2050. It has a focus on blue hydrogen production, transportation and downstream use in the commercial and residential sector.

On the companies’ front, Lotte Chemical committed 4.4 trillion won (US$3.8 billion at the time) to boost South Korea's hydrogen economy and Ineos invested 2 billion euros in electrolyzer manufacturing capacity in Europe.

“A pleasant surprise in 2021 was the continued injection of capital in the startup ecosystem,” Yu said. “While we were expecting the total venture capital (VC) funding to continue to rise from the approximately US$1.5 billion in 2020, we did not see it rocketing up to nearly US$6 billion last year.”

Some key VC rounds that stood out to the expert include crop nutrition-focused Pivot Bio’s US$430 million Series D, bioengineering company Genomatica’s US$118 million Series C and carbon capture solutions company Svante’s US$100 million Series C.

“This is just pure VC funding rounds; many startups also IPO’d and continued to raise funding afterwards as well as more traditional forms of capital raises,” Yu said. “The types of companies also highlights the wide range of technologies being aggressively supported too.”

Cleantech outlook 2022: What’s ahead


Commenting on what he is expecting to see in the new year, Yu said all that has happened in 2020–2021 in the cleantech space will just continue to roll forward in 2022.

“There are really no signs that point to any of this momentum slowing down,” he said. “While supply chain issues will continue to be a factor across all industries, it may have an impact on the more “traditional” cleantech that are scale and face the same supply chain issues as all other sectors — but for the innovators in the space, we don’t see this playing too much of a deterrent.”

One of the key developments for the sector in 2021 was what unfolded at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), with the Glasgow Climate Pact expected to accelerate the energy transition and bring along for the ride the various cleantech that will be required to enable it.

A key aspect worth noting from COP26, according to Yu, was the increase in discussions and attention around industrial decarbonization and addressing emissions in the agricultural sector.

“This was a dramatic shift from previous COP events, which typically focuses on cleaning up the electricity mix and transportation,” he said. “This will continue as the world attempts to address the multi-faceted challenge of decarbonization and that no sectors in the global economy will be immune to its impact.”

But change is not only taking place at a government and regulation level, the private sector is also experiencing a transformation.

“Corporate sustainability was more of a buzzword and marketing tool without real action, but today many — but of course not all — companies have made firmer commitments to reaching net-zero carbon emissions and are backing those commitments with investments and partnerships to meet those goals,” Yu said.

However, even though in 2021 several emerging technologies saw encouraging progress, these positive trends need to accelerate rapidly over the current decade to achieve deployment levels in line with a net zero by 2050 trajectory.

“Additions of battery storage capacity jumped by 50 percent last year to their highest ever level, while hydrogen saw a record year for policy action and low-carbon production,” the International Energy Agency says in a recent report. “Momentum behind carbon capture, utilisation and storage has increased in recent years, but its deployment remains far below the level required in a pathway to net zero by mid-century.”

In terms of trends expected in 2022, energy storage, electric vehicles, hydrogen solutions and carbon capture are key areas that will continue to have momentum.

“We should not expect anything less than numerous partnerships, announcements and funding in these four areas,” Yu said.

For Zarko Meseldzija, chief technical officer of lithium-ion battery recycling company American Manganese (TSXV:AMY), 2021 saw his expectations materialize — a higher focus on critical minerals and higher commodity prices.

“(In 2022,) I am expecting a better market on the back of increasing demand for electric vehicles coupled with the demand for critical battery materials,” he said.

One area within cleantech that Lux Research expects to rise in popularity in 2022 is decarbonized heat because of the growing attention around decarbonizing the industry. At the root of the emissions is the need for low- to high-temperature heat, which largely comes from fossil fuel combustion.

“We began to see an uptick in interest in this area towards the end of 2021 and expect that to carry over in 2022 and become more prominent in the discussion,” Yu said. “While it may not be headline grabbing like the other technologies, it will be a key piece to the future of cleantech.”

In terms of renewable energy, additions of renewable power capacity are on track to set yet another annual record in 2021, driven by solar photovoltaic (PV).

“Almost 290 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable power will be commissioned this year, which is 3 percent higher than 2020’s already exceptional growth,” according to the IEA. “Solar PV alone accounts for more than half of all renewable power expansion in 2021, followed by wind and hydropower.”

The agency forecasts the growth of renewable capacity to accelerate in the next five years, accounting for almost 95 percent of the increase in global power capacity through 2026.

“Globally, renewable electricity capacity is forecast to increase by over 60 percent between 2020 and 2026, reaching more than 4,800 GW,” the IEA says. “This is equivalent to the current global power capacity of fossil fuels and nuclear combined.”

Even though another bright year is expected, in 2022 the cleantech space will still have to face quite a few challenges, but the main one continues to be the potential of not living up to expectations.

“When the type of capital that is being invested in the space keeps going up, the expectations also go up,” Yu said. “It is one thing to bring a technology into market, but it is pertinent that a viable business model and the economics of it also works out when competing with the incumbents.”

Unfortunately, the patience for the timeline from investors might not be realistic.

“Many of these technologies may require over 10 years of further development, piloting and industry buy-in before becoming a commercially available solution and that will be a key risk,” Yu said. “If investors run out of patience and the initial capital runs dry, many cleantech startups will end up in the infamous valley of death with an unclear path forward.”

A key catalyst investors should watch out for that most likely will impact the cleantech sector is the shifting of numerous decarbonization pledges and commitments to actionable policies.

“A blanket policy is unlikely, but we’ll start to see various forms and bit-by-bit regulations that will enable the transition,” Yu said. “Those policies will be critical in moving the needle on much of the activity we’ve seen over the last two years.”

Commenting on what type of companies he will be paying attention to, Yu said he is following electrolyzer companies closely.

“Whether it be the larger established firms such as ITM Power (LSE:ITM) or Nel (OSE:NEL), or emerging players looking to bring a novel aspect to electrolyzer technologies, such as Ionomr, H2Pro and Sunfire,” he said.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Technology or real time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: American Manganese is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.

The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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Economics

Economic Growth Forecasts Lowered On Longer Russia-Ukraine Conflict And Rising Inflation, Article Says

Economic Growth Forecasts Lowered On Longer Russia-Ukraine Conflict And Rising Inflation, Article Says
PR Newswire
NEW YORK, May 18, 2022

NEW YORK, May 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A number of macro variables have deteriorated since our most recent eco…

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Economic Growth Forecasts Lowered On Longer Russia-Ukraine Conflict And Rising Inflation, Article Says

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, May 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- A number of macro variables have deteriorated since our most recent economic growth forecast at the end of March, said S&P Global in its article "Global Macro Update: Growth Forecasts Lowered On Longer Russia-Ukraine Conflict And Rising Inflation." We've marked down our GDP forecasts due to weaker first-quarter numbers in many countries, higher energy and commodity prices, a longer-than-expected Russia-Ukraine conflict, faster monetary policy normalization, and slower Chinese growth.

The global economy continues to face an unusually large number of negative shocks. 

"We now expect U.S. growth to decline by 80 basis points to 2.4%, eurozone growth to drop by 60 basis points to 2.7%, and China's growth to fall by 70 basis points to 4.2%. Changes to 2023-2025 are relatively minor," said Global Chief Economist Paul Gruenwald. "The balance of risks to our baseline has deteriorated since our last forecast and remains firmly on the downside."

The global economy continues to face an unusually large number of negative shocks. At the beginning of 2022, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were in retreat in most geographies. As a result, we forecast a robust but uneven rebound, with above-trend growth in most countries and moderately high but transitory inflation. The main questions were when economies would regain their pre-COVID-19 path of output, and what changes brought about by the pandemic would be structural.

Two developments have altered the macro picture. One is Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February. This sent energy and commodities prices (even) higher for (even) longer and put a dent in confidence, which was at high levels. The second is inflation, which has turned out to be higher, broader based, and more persistent than thought just a few quarters ago.

This report does not constitute a rating action. 

Media Contact:

Orla O'Brien, New York (1) 857-407-8559
orla.obrien@spglobal.com

S&P Global Ratings is the world's leading provider of independent credit ratings. Our ratings are essential to driving growth, providing transparency and helping educate market participants so they can make decisions with confidence. We have more than 1 million credit ratings outstanding on government, corporate, financial sector and structured finance entities and securities. We offer an independent view of the market built on a unique combination of broad perspective and local insight. We provide our opinions and research about relative credit risk; market participants gain independent information to help support the growth of transparent, liquid debt markets worldwide.

S&P Global Ratings is a division of S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI), which provides essential intelligence for individuals, companies and governments to make decisions with confidence. For more information, visit www.spglobal.com/ratings.

 

 

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SOURCE S&P Global

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Economics

New Digital Advancement Municipal Index shows the importance of digital access for U.S. cities’ prosperity

New Digital Advancement Municipal Index shows the importance of digital access for U.S. cities’ prosperity
PR Newswire
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022

The Digital Advancement Municipal Index uses 16 key indicators to profile U.S. cities’ prosperity in the…

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New Digital Advancement Municipal Index shows the importance of digital access for U.S. cities' prosperity

PR Newswire

  • The Digital Advancement Municipal Index uses 16 key indicators to profile U.S. cities' prosperity in the digital economy.
  • The index provides a resource for cities and states to uncover opportunities for targeted action as they prepare to respond to historic federal investments in broadband infrastructure and digital equity.
  • The index shows that while digital access and adoption are foundations for a vibrant city, they work jointly with other factors to improve quality of life.

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Centri Tech Foundation launched the Digital Advancement Municipal Index (Muni Index), which uses 16 indicators from four categories – technology, socioeconomics, education, and housing – to capture and compare a city's overall prosperity and digital equity metrics across 308 U.S. cities with populations over 100,000 people.

Digital Advancement Municipal Index tool shows the impact of digital infrastructure on U.S. cities' overall prosperity

The interactive digital tool offers city leaders seeking to achieve digital advancement a clearer perspective on the greatest opportunities to drive impact in their communities.

"The Digital Advancement Municipal Index is an excellent resource for cities across the country," said Juliet Fink-Yates, the digital inclusion manager for the City of Philadelphia's Office of Innovation and Technology. "Philadelphia has made great strides to increase digital equity, and we're building on that progress with a 5-year plan to expand digital access across every neighborhood in the city. This index is a great tool to help us get there."

To measure technological advancement in each city, the Muni Index employs four metrics: average download speeds for households in a zip code or county, share of households with a desktop/laptop computer, share of households with broadband subscriptions, and percent of households with only a cellular plan and no other subscription. But access to technology alone does not automatically have a positive impact on a city's score; the extent to which digital inequities persist also matters. For example, the share of households with "cell only" access has a much greater negative impact on a city's score than greater speeds have a positive impact.

"Cities bring different assets to the table in fostering people's capacity to use digital tools to improve their lives. This index shines a light on cities' relative strengths and weaknesses as they embark on improving constituents' digital readiness. Users will not only understand levels of tech adoption, but also how they interact with other social challenges, such as housing affordability and a history of residential segregation," said Dr. John B. Horrigan, senior fellow at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society and designer of the index.

The Muni Index is based on the premise that expansion in the availability, affordability, adoption, and quality of digital tools is essential to building a strong foundation for a vibrant and growing city. Yet digital access alone will not lead to better outcomes. The Muni Index demonstrates that how cities invest in technology works jointly alongside other factors that influence quality of life. It is this leverage of technology toward prosperity that defines Digital Advancement.

"Digital advancement aims to promote a genuinely inclusive digital economy, of which the impacts can be measured well beyond technology metrics. Access affects all facets of life today, from healthcare to education," said Laura Mueller-Soppart, program director at Centri Tech Foundation and co-designer of the index.

The insights drawn from the Muni Index, which is based on publicly available data sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and Microsoft broadband usage data, invite users to explore the relationships between a range of factors. For example, ensuring children have health insurance has a strong impact on a city's index score. Furthermore, cities with lower rates of residential segregation and a higher share of foreign-born residents have significantly higher-than-average scores.

By design, all indicators chosen for the index impact a city's overall score and none of the indicators are weighted. The mission of the Muni Index is to offer decision-makers a tool that helps shape holistic strategies that can deliver the greatest positive impact for city residents and regional neighbors.

"As the historic federal investments in broadband infrastructure and digital equity begin to open up, we're pleased to introduce the Muni Index as a resource for strategic planning," said Marta Urquilla, president of Centri Tech Foundation. "Cities and local coalitions have been working to address digital access, many long before the pandemic, and require added investment to expand their efforts. States are eager to collect data and develop competitive plans to attract federal dollars. The index offers a tool to help leaders maximize this once-in-a-lifetime investment, recognizing that digital advancement is essential to our shared prosperity."

Centri Tech Foundation's aim for the Muni Index is to leverage actionable data in service of its mission to promote an inclusive digital economy and achieve a future where everyone can fulfill their aspirations and thrive. The index is intended to facilitate the convening of stakeholders in building this future and set a baseline by which to study and measure progress. All the data that powers the tool is available for download to encourage research exercises to inform digital equity strategies throughout the U.S..

The Digital Advancement Municipal Index is an ongoing effort that is updated annually, as data sources permit. For more information and to provide feedback, visit www.digitaladvancement.org.

Methodology (2016-2019):
The Digital Advancement Municipal Index was developed using data from the American Community Survey and other sources to capture characteristics of 308 of the largest U.S. cities. The index is made up of 16 indicators, 4 each from the following categories: Technology, Socioeconomics, Education, and Housing. The mean of each indicator is normalized to 100. The category scores are composed by taking the mean of the four indicators within each category. A city's total Digital Advancement score is composed by taking the mean of all four of its category scores.

For the full methodology, visit www.digitaladvancement.org.

About Centri Tech Foundation
Centri Tech Foundation (CTF), along with a network of community development partners, seeks to connect low-income people to high-quality connectivity in the home and to resources that improve economic, health and livelihood outcomes in the digital economy. We believe digital advancement is a civil right. To achieve a sustainable future, one where everyone can fulfill their aspirations and thrive, requires an inclusive digital economy. Learn more at centritechfdn.org and follow @centritechfdn on social media.

About John B. Horrigan:
John B. Horrigan, PhD, is Senior Fellow at the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, with a focus on technology adoption and digital inclusion. Dr. Horrigan has also been a senior advisor to the Urban Libraries Council and a senior fellow to the Technology Policy Institute. Additionally, he has served as an Associate Director for Research at the Pew Research Center, where he focused on libraries and their impact on communities, as well as technology adoption patterns and open government data. During the Obama Administration, Dr. Horrigan served on the leadership team at the Federal Communications Commission for the development of the National Broadband Plan.

Contact: Connie Jones, (850) 519-2912

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SOURCE Centri Tech Foundation

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Government

“Natural immunity” from omicron is weak and limited, study finds

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—May 18, 2022—In unvaccinated people, infection with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 provides little long-term immunity against…

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA—May 18, 2022—In unvaccinated people, infection with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 provides little long-term immunity against other variants, according to a new study by researchers at Gladstone Institutes and UC San Francisco (UCSF), published today in the journal Nature.

Credit: Photo: Michael Short/Gladstone Institutes

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—May 18, 2022—In unvaccinated people, infection with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 provides little long-term immunity against other variants, according to a new study by researchers at Gladstone Institutes and UC San Francisco (UCSF), published today in the journal Nature.

In experiments using mice and blood samples from donors who were infected with Omicron, the team found that the Omicron variant induces only a weak immune response. In vaccinated individuals, this response—while weak—helped strengthen overall protection against a variety of COVID-19 strains. In those without prior vaccination, however, the immune response failed to confer broad, robust protection against other strains.

“In the unvaccinated population, an infection with Omicron might be roughly equivalent to getting one shot of a vaccine,” says Melanie Ott, MD, PhD, director of the Gladstone Institute of Virology and co-senior author of the new work. “It confers a little bit of protection against COVID-19, but it’s not very broad.”

“This research underscores the importance of staying current with your vaccinations, even if you have previously been infected with the Omicron variant, as you are still likely vulnerable to re-infection,” says co-senior author Jennifer Doudna, PhD, who is a senior investigator at Gladstone, a professor at UC Berkeley, founder of the Innovative Genomics Institute, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

A Weaker Infection

As the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 spread around the globe in late 2021 and early 2022, anecdotal evidence quickly mounted that it was causing less severe symptoms than Delta and other variants of concern. However, scientists weren’t initially sure why that was, or how a weaker infection might impact long-term immunity against COVID-19.

“When the Omicron variant first emerged, a lot of people wondered whether it could essentially act as a vaccine for people who didn’t want to get vaccinated, eliciting a strong and broad-acting immune response,” says Irene Chen, co-first author of the new study and graduate student in Ott’s lab. Other first authors are Rahul Suryawanshi, PhD, a Gladstone staff research scientist, and Tongcui Ma, PhD, scientist in the Roan Lab at Gladstone.

To find the answer, the team of researchers first examined the effect of Omicron in mice. Compared to an ancestral strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the Delta variant, Omicron led to far fewer symptoms in the mice. However, the virus was detected in airway cells, albeit at lower levels. Similarly, Omicron was able to infect isolated human cells but replicated less than other variants.

The team then characterized the immune response generated by Omicron infections. In mice infected with Omicron, despite the milder symptoms, the immune system still generated the T cells and antibodies typically seen in response to other viruses.

“We demonstrated in this study that the lower pathogenicity of Omicron is not because the virus cannot take hold,” says Nadia Roan, PhD, an associate investigator at Gladstone.

That leaves other reasons that might explain why Omicron differs from other variants in terms of symptoms and immunity, including the lower replication seen with Omicron or the types of antibodies that the immune system generates in response to the virus.

No Cross-Variant Protection

To gauge how the immune response against Omicron fared over time, the researchers collected blood samples from mice infected with the ancestral, Delta, or Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 and measured the ability of their immune cells and antibodies to recognize five different viral variants—ancestral (WA1), Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron.

Blood from uninfected animals was unable to neutralize any of the viruses—in other words, block the ability of any of the viruses to copy themselves. Samples from WA1-infected animals could neutralize Alpha and, to a lesser degree, the Beta and Delta virus—but not Omicron. Samples from Delta-infected mice could neutralize Delta, Alpha and, to a lesser degree, the Omicron and Beta virus.

However, blood from Omicron-infected mice could only neutralize the Omicron variant.

The team confirmed these results using blood from ten unvaccinated people who had been infected with Omicron—their blood was not able to neutralize other variants. When they tested blood from 11 unvaccinated people who had been infected with Delta, the samples could neutralize Delta and, as had been seen in mice, the other variants to a lesser extent.

When they repeated the experiments with blood from vaccinated people, the results were different: vaccinated individuals with confirmed Omicron or Delta breakthrough infections all showed the ability to neutralize all the tested variants, conferring higher protection.

“When it comes to other variants that might evolve in the future, we can’t predict exactly what would happen, but based on these results, I’d suspect that unvaccinated people who were infected with Omicron will have very little protection,” says Ott. “But on the contrary, vaccinated individuals are likely to be more broadly protected against future variants, especially if they had a breakthrough infection.”

“Our results may be useful not only to inform individuals’ decisions on vaccination, but also for the design of future COVID-19 vaccines that confer broad protection against many variants,” says Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, a professor of infectious diseases at UCSF and a co-senior author of the work.

###

About the Research Project

The paper “Limited Cross-Variant Immunity after Infection with the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant Without Vaccination” was published in the journal Nature on May 18, 2022.

Other authors are Abdullah Syed, Camille Simoneau, Alison Ciling, Mir Khalid, Bharath Sreekumar, Pei-Yi Chen, Renuka Kumar, Mauricio Montano, Ronne Gascon, Frank Soveg, Ashley George, and Warner Greene of Gladstone; Noah Brazer, Prachi Saldhi, Miguel Garcia-Knight, Alicia Sotomayor-Gonzalez, Venice Servillita, Amelia Gliwa, Jenny Nguyen, Xiaohui Fang, Mazharul Maishan, Michael Matthay, and Raul Andino of UCSF; and Ines Silva, Bilal Milbes, Noah Kojima, Victoria Hess, Maria Shacreaw, Lauren Lopez, Matthew Brobeck, Fred Turner, and Lee Spraggon of Curative, Inc.

The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants F31 AI164671-01, U54HL147127 and R21AI59666), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (PDF-533021-2019), the Roddenberry Foundation, Pamela and Edward Taft, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Van Auken Private Foundation, David Henke, Emergent Ventures at the Mercatus Center (Fast Grants #2164 and #2208), George Mason University, the Innovative Genomics Institute, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (75D30121C10991), Abbott Laboratories, and the Sandler Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research at UCSF.

About Gladstone Institutes

To ensure our work does the greatest good, Gladstone Institutes focuses on conditions with profound medical, economic, and social impact—unsolved diseases. Gladstone is an independent, nonprofit life science research organization that uses visionary science and technology to overcome disease. It has an academic affiliation with the University of California, San Francisco.


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