9 Green Energy Startups Shaping the Future in 2022
Green energy startups and the clean energy sector as a whole remained resilient in 2021 despite a strong gas lobby, supply chain constraints, and other obstacles. There were several reasons for this resiliency including the decreasing cost of technologies, improvements to battery capacities, and supportive policies in most countries.
However, the world's efforts were not enough, not only in terms of a clean environment but also in terms of world stability. Any country reliant on fossil fuel imports has a cord around its neck as fuel dependency threatens both economic well-being and peace. There is no better example than the current situation in Europe. Russian natural gas is heavily used by the continent, which has contributed to the energy crisis in the EU.
First, Russia refused to deliver additional gas, then it used fossil fuels to exert pressure on Europe during the invasion of Ukraine. In addition, this dependence has forced the US and EU to retain loopholes in sanctions against Russia and to continue paying billions to the aggressor.
As European leaders look to increase imports of liquid natural gas (LNG) from the United States and Qatar to address the issue in the short term, it is obvious that they need to focus more on energy independence and security in the long run. Clean and renewable energy appears to be the solution to this challenge.
The EU’s new plan to reduce dependency on fossil fuels includes increased support and investment in the clean energy sector. As long as other countries follow suit, the clean energy market will soar far beyond the predicted US$423 billion in 2026, opening up new opportunities for various clean energy projects.
But what can be considered a good clean energy business idea? To help you find an answer, we’ve gathered nine next-generation green energy startups in this article.
Before we start, let's clarify the terms green, renewable, and alternative energy. They're often used as synonyms, but there are some differences you should know well before planning your project.
What's the difference between green, renewable, and alternative energy?
Alternative energy refers to sources other than fossil fuels (gas, petroleum, and coal). This term covers typically nuclear and all renewable energy sources. Renewable energy is power generated from a recyclable source or a source that is constantly replenished. Many of us think of solar and wind when we hear the term renewable energy, but the concept also refers to hydro (water), geothermal (heat), and biomass (plants and waste materials).
Meanwhile, nuclear energy is non-renewable because it is produced with elements like uranium and thorium, which exist in finite amounts and cannot be replenished. But like biomass and biofuel, it is considered clean energy.
Clean energy describes energy sources that have minimal or zero impact on the environment but are not necessarily renewable. Green energy is renewable energy that generates no carbon emissions, has a minimal environmental footprint, and costs less than fossil fuel. Normally, the term is used for energy generated by water, wind, hydrogen, sunlight, and specific forms of biomass.
9 CleanTech startups
All alternative fuels are more beneficial than fossil fuels because they cut pollution. They’re all worthy of attention, study, and implementation. Here, however, we'll only focus on green energy startups since these represent the future of energy, offering renewability, accessibility, geopolitical stability, and environmental protection.
Solar energy startups
The sun is probably the most well-known alternative energy source and for a good reason. Solar energy is renewable and installation costs can be recovered through savings on energy bills. Still, there are a couple of downsides to solar energy.
Firstly, in countries with erratic weather patterns, solar panels are prone to dust contamination, which can result in an energy loss ranging between 7% and 50%. Second, household solar panel systems are not that easy to manage. Homeowners need to keep track of their energy storage and buy additional electricity when necessary. All this requires time and effort. As a result, many customers prefer traditional sources of energy, such as natural gas.
There are already companies involved in solving these problems. The first example is INTI-TECH, a company from Chile. This green energy startup developed an autonomous water-free cleaning solution that helps stop the loss of efficiency caused by dirt on the surface of solar modules. INTI-TECH customers can perform up to 100 robotic cleanings a year for a fixed monthly rate, keep the photovoltaic system clean and, thus, generate more energy. No wonder this cost-effective and eco-friendly solution attracted big investments; in 2022, the solution has already raised more than US$805 million.
INTI-TECH’s cleaning robots. Source: INTI-TECH
The second example is Evergen, a project MadAppGang worked on. This startup aims to resolve the issue of complicated home energy management by simplifying how customers manage their home solar.
The app that we built for Evergen completes all solar panel management tasks automatically. Our team developed software that monitors weather conditions and tracks solar and battery system performance using mathematical models and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. The system determines how much energy will be needed for storage, sale, or purchase and predicts future consumption and distributes it accordingly. It also detects malfunctioning devices and automatically notifies operators, eliminating hassles from individual households.
Wind energy startups
One of the cleanest and most accessible sources of energy, wind doesn't produce carbon emissions and is renewable. However, it also has some drawbacks. For instance, wind energy cannot be produced consistently because it’s only generated when the wind blows. Another problem is that turbines can affect wildlife. Between 140,000 and 500,000 birds die every year due to wind turbines, according to a 2011 Canadian study. But in these cases, too, startups come to the rescue.
A CleanTech startup in Tunisia, Saphon Energy, develops zero-blade wind converters. Wind turbines are designed like sailboats because they rock back and forth rather than rotate and follow. This innovative design allows turbines to operate more efficiently while causing minimal damage to local wildlife.
To overcome wind unpredictability, another startup, New World Wind, developed Aeroleaf, a microturbine that can respond to both slight breezes and turbulent winds. These small turbines don't do the job of their 300-foot-tall commercial counterparts. Still, they will be useful for powering a home or lighting up a street, especially as they are very quiet.
New World Wind's Aeroleaf. Source: Enerzine
Geothermal energy startups
Geothermal energy is the heat contained in rocks, water, and steam underground. Scientists drill into the earth to tap that steam and hot water, which then powers turbines connected to generators. Geothermal energy produces 17% less CO2 than natural gas, isn't intermittent like wind and solar, and can provide as much as 35 gigawatts (34% of the US installed capacity) and 2 terawatts (20% of US electrical generation).
However, drilling deep is too costly for small projects. GreenStorc, a UK startup, is working to resolve this problem. The company's proprietary fluid evaporates at 50 degrees centigrade, generating 250 times more steam than water. As a result, small-scale power generation can be sustainable at shallow depths.
Tidal energy startups
During the 20th century, engineers devised ways to use tidal movement to generate electricity. All methods use special generators to convert tidal energy into electricity. Tidal-power production is still in its infancy but will, eventually, provide a significant source of renewable energy.
Though there are not many green energy startups in this niche yet, a few companies are already tapping into the market. Lunar Energy, for instance, holds an exclusive worldwide licence for the Rotech Tidal Turbine (RTT). How does this invention work? A tidal stream is driven through a narrow duct to drive the turbine and generate electricity. The system has many benefits: it’s easy to install and operate, produces low-cost power, and is environmentally friendly.
Lunar Energy’s tidal turbine. Source: Researchgate
Biomass energy startups
An example of biomass energy is biofuel, which is energy created from plants. As plants can always be grown, biofuel is considered renewable. It leaves an insignificant environmental footprint as well.
The problem is that producing biofuel requires specialised machinery for extraction. Thus, it can indirectly increase emissions and can't be considered purely green. However, as it seems to be a quick and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, biomass energy startups are pretty popular among investors.
Fulcrum Bioenergy, a Green energy startup from the US, raised US$261 million to convert household garbage into low-carbon fuels (diesel, jet fuel, ethanol). Using trash as a feedstock, Fulcrum is diverting large volumes of waste from local landfills and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 100% compared to traditional petroleum fuel.
Green hydrogen startups
When we split water using electrolysis, we create hydrogen, a powerful source of energy, and oxygen, a gas that naturally exists in our atmosphere. However, for electrolysis to occur, we have to produce electricity, which emits carbon dioxide into the air.
Green hydrogen addresses this issue. Using electricity from renewable energy sources only, green hydrogen production emits no CO2. Dozens of startups have already sprung up around the idea. Some companies such as Lhyfe from France produce green hydrogen, others build infrastructure for it. Green Hydrogen Solutions, for example, uses artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies to monitor and manage the price of green hydrogen efficiently.
Green hydrogen production workflow. Source: Projectscot
Is a clean energy business a good idea?
Not only does clean energy help cut CO2 emissions, but it can also be produced in any country regardless of its geographical position and mineral reserves. In light of current levels of pollution and the world's energy crisis, launching a green energy startup can be a successful venture.
As investors and governmental programs continue to support innovative energy technologies, green energy startups will likely proceed toward commercialisation. So, it’s about time to enter the market with your project. Start with building your marketing strategy and looking for funds, and don’t worry about the software you’ll need. Trust your project to a full-cycle software development company with experience in the field such as MadAppGang.
To breathe life into your innovative energy project, we use groundbreaking technologies and leverage all the possibilities of the cloud and advanced technologies such as AI. Tools such as these mean we can develop modern and innovative cloud-native apps quickly, and provide easy support after the product is launched.
If you agree that only a serious approach such as this can help your startup succeed, contact us. Let's discuss your idea and make the world a cleaner and safer place together.