The Long Run

Friends of ClimateHaven

There is a quote I often think about at the end of each year: “Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years.”

I love it because it makes me feel like I have nine more years to exercise, improve my diet, and learn to play the guitar.

Joking aside, this Bill Gates quote is highly relevant for climate tech founders working tirelessly to decarbonize our planet. We should not lose sight of the fact that decarbonizing the global economy is a multi-decade, multi-trillion-dollar effort. Each year of progress will build upon the year before it. But in some years, progress will be very difficult to judge.

Take the story of solar, wind, and coal in a three-act play:

  1. Solar and wind power are each enduring their headwinds in the U.S. market. Interest rates, interconnection, permitting, supply chains, and tariffs all play a role in creating a challenging environment for deploying the two most bankable climate technologies.

  2. Do not fear—these technologies continue to grow meaningfully, so much so that U.S. electricity generation from solar and wind is on the verge of eclipsing coal in 2024.

  3. Our heroes will prevail; the International Energy Agency’s latest projection has coal demand peaking later this decade before heading into terminal decline largely because of the favorable economics of solar and wind.

Now, you could argue that 2023 was a down year for solar and wind. Still, the incredible work done for decades by so many in the climate tech community (illustrated by the staggering amount of wind and solar brought online in 2023) will contribute to these amazing milestones happening in the coming years.

All of this speaks to the importance of execution and endurance. Ideas are amazing, but a sustained commitment to execution is what will lead to the creation of enduring climate tech companies. In the long run, it will be those companies who are there to celebrate the net zero milestone when we reach it!

Three Up, Three Down

It’s time for our year-end edition of Three Up, Three Down––three things that excited me this year and three things that leave me hoping for more:

Let’s start with the good stuff:

  1. Rising Interest Rates
    You’re probably asking yourself, “Why would I like rising interest rates?” There are a few reasons (and I’m not even counting 5% T-bills). First, low-interest rates can’t last forever, so their end gives us more certainty about the future. Second, more honest capital costs translate to fair company valuations, which is better for investors and founders in the long term. Third, higher interest rates will force climate tech startups (and startups across all industries, for that matter) to focus on building resilient businesses (see above!).
  2. Carbon Tech
    Great progress was made across various industries and sectors in climate tech, but carbon tech stood out to me. 2023 represents the year carbon tech got its sea legs (great pun for ocean-based CDR startups). We saw noteworthy progress in advancing new technologies, significant financial commitments to support commercialization, and recognition that carbon tech can play a role in a net zero economy. This really excites me because I believe carbon tech MUST play a role if we are to establish a global economy with net zero emissions.
  3. COP 28
    After intense negotiations, participating countries agreed to commit to a “transition away” from fossil fuels. That statement is thirty years in the making and represents significant progress in the climate movement.

And the three things that left me hoping for more:

  1. COP 28
    Wait, was COP a win and a fail? Yes. Yes, it was. The agreement to “transition away” from fossil fuels fell short of a commitment to phase out fossil fuels. And I’ll admit, the skeptic in me wonders if the so-called “UAE Consensus” is more a marketing ploy than a call to action (see above, the need for carbon tech).
  2. Offshore Wind Challenges
    Rising interest rates took their toll on offshore wind. Throw in supply chain challenges and outdated regulatory regimes (I’m looking at you, Jones Act), and the result presents an unfortunate truth: building offshore wind projects in the U.S. remains hard. Really hard. I’m hopeful these projects can get back on track in 2024 because offshore wind power would provide a major source of clean electricity in the United States, driving economic development in the Northeast. But I worry for the industry itself because I don’t want offshore wind’s challenges to impede other climate tech industries (green hydrogen, carbon tech, geothermal, to name a few) trying to get off the ground.
  3. The Grid
    We’re adding more renewable power to the grid. We’re adding load more. The increasing frequency of storms highlights a need for greater investment. If I’m an entrepreneur looking to start a climate tech company, I’m starting right here.

Categorize Your Climate Tech

It is supremely important for climate tech company founders to understand precisely how their technology will contribute to a healthy planet.

Not all climate technologies are going to directly contribute to decarbonization. But let’s be clear. This question goes beyond your technology’s potential environmental impact.

Categorize Your Climate Tech

Consider the ramifications, like how you will design your product, develop your go-to-market strategy, raise capital, and make money over time. The goal, after all, is to build an enduring company.

Since these categories were not declared on high, they could be sliced and diced in numerous ways. But I’ll propose there are three main buckets for which you could categorize your climate technology:

  1. Decarbonizing technologies
  2. Physical and digital infrastructure that supports decarbonization, and
  3. Resilience-building tech for our planet’s systems.

Dig into this week’s installment of the Startup Playbook to learn more.

Support Our Community

ClimateHaven would not be where it is today without our exceptional funders' commitment to climate tech entrepreneurship, believing it will meaningfully and simultaneously address the climate crisis and build inclusive prosperity for communities.

As a 501(c)(3) organization, ClimateHaven leverages philanthropic support to strengthen the programming and workshops we offer our climate community, expand the number of entrepreneurs we serve, and accelerate climate careers our member companies create. In turn, such support is tax deductible by our donors to the fullest extent allowed by law.

If you would like to join our community of climate-doers by donating, click here!

Startup Spotlights

Speaking of our fantastic community, we have two startups to spotlight. Welcome to ClimateHaven! First, a big welcome to Cool Amps, co-founded by CEO Lonnie Garris, CTO Dr. Thomas Madden, and Technical Advisor Duwayno Robertson. Dedicated to responsibly recycling lithium-ion batteries, Cool Amps provides an opportunity to enhance America’s economic competitiveness and national security.

ClimateHaven Member Spotlights

By developing an infrastructure with independent capabilities to mine, process, and recycle scarce metal components such as cobalt and nickel found in battery products, Cool Amps creates a circular supply chain, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and supporting the transition to a sustainable, electric future.

Second, we are proud to be working with Future Island Impact! Co-founded by Daniel A. Rosales Roche, PhD, MBA and Nancy Tanguay, Future Island Impact deploys tidal turbines to regions characterized by low energy density, advancing a clean, renewable energy solution at a community-wide scale and unlocking substantial new markets along the U.S. coastline. By developing models for this underutilized resource, Future Island empowers residents and organizations, stabilizes local energy costs, and adds resilience to energy grids while reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

The ClimateHaven community is 17 members strong and still growing. If you’re interested in introductions to any of these amazing climate tech companies, contact ClimateHaven’s super connecter, Haley Lieberman! If you are an entrepreneur interested in joining this amazing community, you can apply for membership here.

News and Notes

Here’s a quick year-end roundup of the ClimateHaven community:

Congratulations to The Community Foundation
On December 8, we hosted our partners at the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven as they received a $2M grant from the US EDA to fund the foundation’s business support ecosystem for underserved tech entrepreneurs, of which ClimateHaven is a supporting partner. We’re incredibly grateful to Senator Blumenthal, Congresswoman DeLauro, Mayor Elicker, and the Community Foundation leadership team for celebrating the grant at ClimateHaven and spotlighting the entrepreneurs benefitting from it.

2024 Calendar
We’ll publish our full events calendar in mid-January. In the meantime, mark your calendars for the next installment of Green Drinks on February 8, 2024, sponsored by our good friends at GSB, and the Yale Innovation Summit on May 29 – 30, 2024.

ReGen Accelerator
Speaking of 2024, we’re announcing the ReGen Accelerator’s first cohort in Q1 of 2024. The accelerator program will run for eight weeks at our New Haven-based incubator in April and May, culminating with a showcase around the Innovation Summit in late May.

New people, New Roles
Stay tuned for announcements in January introducing ClimateHaven’s new board members and our first class of Executives in Residence.

Final Word

Back to where we started. I’m fascinated with the idea of building enduring companies. Celebrating major fundraising, attending big conferences, and promoting new ideas is easy, but the real impact of climate tech will be made by folks who fiercely execute over years and decades.

Our goal is for ClimateHaven to be one of those enduring organizations, and we’re already off to a great start. We accomplished an enormous amount in 2023, and we’re poised to make 2024 even better. Still, the focus remains on the long-term––doing what it takes to build an organization that will be there to celebrate with the planet when we reach net zero emissions.

But first, egg nog.

Until next time,


P.S. Follow ClimateHaven on LinkedIn, X, and Instagram to keep up on our progress between newsletters.

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