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‘Geometric Innovation’ Has Fastest-Growing Green Companies Drawing More Investment

A lithium-ion battery recycler, a deep geothermal developer, an electric bus manufacturer, and start-ups working on energy storage, fuel cell, electrolyzer, carbon capture, and desalination technologies are among the fastest-growing green companies in Canada, according to the Future 50 list release last week by Corporate Knights.

The list includes:

• Calgary-based Eavor Technologies, a geothermal developer that saw its business soar by 17,175% in 2021;

• Next Hydrogen, a Mississauga, Ontario manufacturer of large hydrogen electrolyzers for the transportation and industrial sectors, which saw its revenue increase 8,800% last year;

• Vancouver-based Svante, a carbon capture company that achieved a 4,262% growth rate by launching its first pilot project at a Husky Energy pilot plant in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan;

• Toronto-based Hydrostor, a utility-scale storage developer that grew 3,382%;

• Yava Technologies, a company in Toronto that recovers metals from industrial waste and grew 2,400% last year;

• Mississauga-based Li-Cycle, an electronic waste recycler that reported 831% growth;

• Loop Energy, a Vancouver fuel cell manufacturer that grew 161%;

• Saint-Jérôme, Quebec electric school bus maker Lion Electric, which logged a 146% growth rate.

“The Future 50 should reassure those who worry the green energy transition will drag us back to a pre-industrial stone age,” Corporate Knights writes. “The list’s sheer variety confirms climate experts’ contention that net-zero will create infinite opportunities for entrepreneurs and inventors with vision, grit, and persistence.”

The Toronto-based media and research organization also points to the “remarkable” range of business niches represented in the Future 50 list: “from green economy basics such as renewable energy, biofuels, and batteries to sustainable products ranging from vegan butchers to low-carbon cement, as well as innovative services ranging from climate-monitoring satellites to a green taxi company.”

While the Future 50 are start-ups with “unpredictable” futures, “there’s no shortage of capital for promising environmental solutions,” the news story states. The companies are raising tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, and in some cases moving into “the billion-dollar space,” Corporate Knights CEO Toby Heaps told The Energy Mix.

“That’s hopeful, because when you look at the capital being invested to seize any opportunity and what needs to be invested, it’s a notable gap,” he said. “It just seems like we’re getting into this optimization phase,” with “geometric innovation” breaking out across a wide mix of different businesses and technologies.

The Future 50 appears at a time when ESG standards are vague and concerns about greenwashing are running rampant. “It’s kind of a Wild West, but there are different actors out there that can provide some guidance, and we’re trying to provide some of it,” Heaps said.

But it serves as a “force multiplier when you gather 50 legitimate climate solution companies together,” serving as “another third party stamp of approval and validation” that might help those businesses “find bigger deals with larger customers”.

With the climate community urging a seven-fold increase in international investment to keep the targets in the Paris climate agreement within reach, Canada’s six biggest banks recently lurched in the opposite direction, confirming a $10-billion investment in the Trans Mountain pipeline on the strength of a federal loan guarantee. Heaps said climate finance experts are calling for countries to “prime the pump” on rapid decarbonization by investing 2% of GDP in public or private climate investments over the next few years, a target that would translate into $50 billion per year in Canada.

“A lot of it should be time-bound, like $2 billion on the table for two years for anyone who wants to do grid interties, or $50 billion for deep energy retrofits for two years. That would focus the minds, get people off their butts, and get us out of the incrementalism,” without endangering anyone’s credit ratings, and “generate tax revenues that more than pay for it over a 10-year period.”

The global opportunity is worth $9 trillion per year, Heaps added. “So if you focus in on the opportunity, that’s what these firms are doing. The barrier isn’t that they don’t have demand. They’re trying to scale up, they have orders, and they need to get capital. It’s more a matter of growth pains, but there’s boatloads of money now to get a stake into these companies.”