In 2020, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that, due to a sharp reduction in travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, household greenhouse gas emissions dropped by over 10 percent - the second greatest annual reduction since the ONS first began aggregating this data in 1990.
This decline comes at a perfect time for cleantech innovators, as growing public interest, investor appetite, and political scrutiny continues to propel individuals and businesses towards reducing emissions, in an effort to help the UK reach “Net Zero” by 2050.
From smarter aviation to commercial fusion, we take a look at 10 of the UK’s most innovative cleantech startups and how their products and solutions are helping to make the world a more sustainable place.
Highview Power delivers emission-free, liquid-air energy storage solutions at half the cost of lithium-ion batteries for long-duration energy storage needs. Its mission? A world powered by 100 percent renewable energy.
The company’s solutions use cryogenic energy storage technology and release zero emissions in the process. It claims that its long duration energy storage technology can provide from four hours to four weeks of energy.
Its plants can be situated at any location and have a lifespan of 30+ years. One such plant is located at Carrington, UK - the facility, developed by Highview Power and Carlton Power (a UK independent power station developer), is a 50MW cryogenic energy storage plant with a minimum of 250MWh that will help the UK achieve its decarbonisation goals. It received a £10 million grant from the UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy as part of a Storage at Scale Competition.
Highview Power says that a 50MW/250 MWh plant could store enough power to generate electricity for 100,000 homes.
Satavia has a very simple vision: to eliminate two percent of human climate impact through smarter, greener aviation. It does this by utilising artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and atmospheric science.
Aircraft operators can forecast, prevent, validate, quantify and offset climate forcing caused by contrails using Satavia’s DECISIONX: NETZERO system. Eliminating up to 60 percent of climate impact per flight, the platform enables advanced decision-making across wide-ranging and diverse use cases in aerospace, maritime, defence and government sectors.
Powered by 5-DX, Satavia’s core platform technology, DECISIONX also offers a range of digital twin applications for every organisation with physical assets on land, in the sea, or in the air. Hosted in Microsoft Azure, 5-DX combines AI technology and atmospheric science to quantify a range of parameters across 3D space as well as time and probability.
The company recently announced a partnership with Etihad Airways to help eliminate the creation of aircraft-generated clouds.
Pod Point offers electric vehicle (EV) chargers for home and business, and access to more than 5,200 charging bays across the UK. Quite simply, it believes that travel shouldn’t damage the Earth and is helping people and businesses adopt clean transport by building a network of smart EV charging points.
Users of Pod Point’s chargers can track costs and energy usage at home, use charging bays across the Pod Point network and access company chargers as well - all using the Pod Point app.
In response to customer demand and its environmental commitments, Chester Zoo has installed four Pod Point 7kW twin charge points along with the infrastructure for a further eight bays.
Pod Point’s current network of charging points has already powered over 715 million miles of electric driving. Impressive.
Recycleye is using advanced machine learning, computer vision and robotics to commodify waste. Its mission is to deliver intelligent sorting technology and research to reinvent the economics of recycling.
The company offers improved plant performance via its Recycleye Vision and Recycleye Robotics solutions.
Recycleye Vision uses AI computer vision to scan and identify materials in a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) to provide real-time composition data for traceability and transparency. This system has the potential to save millions per plant lifetime when compared to a manual method.
The physical task of picking and placing waste materials is performed by Recycleye Robotics. This system is capable of successfully delivering up to 33,000 picks from co-mingled Dry-Mixed Recycling (DMR) per 10-hour shift.
Through Recycleye Vision, the company has analysed over three million images of waste items in MRFs which has enabled it to create WasteNet: the world’s largest dataset for waste.
The Recycleye team has been selected to receive funding from the European Innovation Council (EIC) as part of its support for innovative companies bringing new technologies to market.
This London-based biotech company (previously known as CustoMem) is developing technology to remove toxic compounds from water. Its belief is that cutting-edge material design coupled with creative engineering can provide a new horizon for addressing the global market PFAS treatment requirements.
4700 different man-made compounds can be found in the PFAS family and their use in manufacturing over the years has led to their widespread release into the environment. The properties of these compounds make them resistant to natural degradation and they can be found lingering in environments such as soil and water. There is even evidence which connects PFAS as the cause of several severe health conditions.
To help minimise contaminant levels and to mitigate population exposure, Puraffinity has developed a platform technology that facilitates surface modification of a range of select substrates with tailored “PFAS-friendly” molecular groups. A suite of adsorbent materials, exhibiting high selectivity towards diverse PFAS compounds adaptable for multiple applications, is the result.
Last year, Puraffinity was awarded CleanTech Company of the Year at the West London Business Awards.
A spin-out from Imperial College London, Ceres is a fuel cell technology and engineering company which aims to bring cleaner and cheaper energy to businesses, homes and vehicles.
Electrochemical technology enables companies to deliver clean energy at scale and at speed. Ceres’s SteelCell® is made from mass-market and widely available materials. Cost-effective, robust and scalable, it is an ideal technology to tackle air pollution and climate change as it significantly lowers carbon emissions, pollutants and running costs.
SteelCell® can generate power from conventional fuels like natural gas and from sustainable fuels like biogas, ethanol or hydrogen.
Recently, Ceres has been successful in two separate projects that have been awarded funding as part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, run by the UK Department for Transport and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.
In order to understand how to make better decisions related to our planet, businesses, Government and individuals can use Cervest’s AI-powered Climate Intelligence platform.
Climate Intelligence is designed to build, manage, and de-risk valuable assets. The platform enables users to adapt and decarbonise at scale, creating a Climate Intelligence Network™ that can build a resilient future for the planet.
Bringing together earth science, data modelling, and machine learning, EarthScan™ can give users on-demand Climate Intelligence to de-risk decisions, meet financial disclosure needs, and make assets more resilient.
Going one step further, Earth Science AI™ connects climate science with business critical decisions. It gives users a science-based view of climate risk across millions of global assets, simultaneously.
IDC research states Climate Intelligence must be a “strategic priority” for businesses and positions Cervest as a leader in this rapidly-evolving market.
Moixa is a smart battery company that offers integrated hardware and GridShare™ software for renewable energy management. They believe that by ‘raising the IQ’ of batteries the world can live in a renewable future.
The company claims that its solar panel and smart battery systems can help you save up to 50 percent on your energy bills. But how?
Solar panels work by generating energy during the day, supplying electricity to your home. Any excess energy that is not being used is normally sent back to the grid but, with energy prices on the rise, it makes sense to use as much of that energy as possible. This is where solar battery storage comes in - the excess energy your home is not currently utilising can be used to charge a Moixa battery, so instead of sending the excess back to the grid, it can be stored and used to power a house day and night.
Moixa also has GridShare, a customisable cloud-based software platform that connects storage devices to the grid, to enable smart energy management. By applying AI and machine learning, it can help customers maximise the value of energy.
Last year, Moixa partnered with Honda for the launch of e:PROGRESS, an intelligent home electric vehicle charging offer using Moixa’s GridShare technology.
Oxford PV was established in 2010 as a spin-out from the University of Oxford. It develops low-cost, highly efficient photovoltaic technology that improves the performance of standard silicon cells.
Oxford PV states that, “when built on top of conventional 156 x 156 mm silicon solar cells, in a tandem configuration, the resulting perovskite-silicon tandem solar cells show highly improved efficiency.” By doing this, cost reductions can be made that transform the economics of silicon solar energy generation.
The company is also building the world’s first volume manufacturing line for perovskite-on-silicon tandem solar cells. It is installing a silicon heterojunction solar cell line enhanced with production equipment for the perovskite top cell. The fully integrated line is being built at Oxford PV’s industrial site in Germany and will start production in 2022.
In December 2020, Oxford PV hit a new world record for the amount of the sun’s energy that can be converted into electricity by a single solar cell. The cell produced by Oxford PV was independently proven to convert 29.52 percent of solar energy into electricity. Standard silicon cells have an average conversion rate of just 15-20 percent and a practical maximum conversion rate of around 26 percent.
Oxford PV has also been named a 2022 Global Cleantech 100 company by Cleantech Group.
Based near Oxford, Tokamak Energy is a global commercial fusion energy company. It is pursuing fusion through the combined development of spherical tokamaks along with high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets.
The company has set itself the target of demonstrating the feasibility of fusion as an energy source by the 2030s.
Via its ST40 fusion prototype, Tokamak Energy has developed the most advanced compact spherical tokamak in the world – a key enabler of commercial fusion. Last year, the company made plans to be the first to achieve 100 million degrees Celsius temperature in a stable plasma, an essential cornerstone for economic fusion energy.
Tokamak Energy is also working with CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, on high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets in developing a proprietary technology that will scale to the large magnets necessary for fusion power modules.
In December 2021, the company announced a breakthrough design of cryogenic, or very low temperature, power electronics technology for the high-efficiency operation of its superconducting magnets. This will result in reduced costs of future fusion power plants – which is key to commercialising and scaling the technology.