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BFF Newsletter #7 - August 2020

Get the latest insights from the sustainable energy transition space
Brought to you by Contrarian Ventures

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While Covid-19 pandemic led to many devastating losses, there is a silver lining – CO2 emissions have dropped, and many got encouraged to be more sustainable and aware of the climate change. People in Europe are buckling up for the second wave, and we believe that these times of restricted daily life, reduced travelling and increased social awareness will yield tremendous benefits for the environment. Yet, we wanted to present you with some surprising numbers and give you a more in-depth look at how that affects the overall CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, as well as what is going on in the renewable energy market.
Almost every energy-consuming industry has decreased the number of CO2 it emits from air travel and manufacturing companies to construction and mining businesses. The International Energy Agency released that there is "a record annual decline in carbon emissions of almost 8%." However, some data from National Geographic reveals that even though CO2 emissions have plunged significantly, carbon dioxide concentration hit a record high in human history. This lack of correlation raises the question of how that is possible. Apparently, CO2 molecules differently than, for example, methane remain in the air for centuries, and the increase is the reflection of historical emissions. To see an actual reduction in carbon dioxide concentration would mean a way more significant decrease than the lockdown resulted in. Therefore, from one point of view, we can celebrate, but it is crucial to recognize how much more has to be done to mitigate the effects of vast emissions in the past. We should strive not to be misled by the flashy headlines of momentarily dropped emissions but instead focus on how to use the changing status quo to our advantage of becoming greener.
Percentage change in global daily fossil CO2 emissions, since Jan. 4, 2020
Even such big drops in carbon dioxide emissions will have little impact on overall CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. It is a cumulative problem - our emissions in the past is what matters.

Even though all energy sources have suffered a hit, it is clear that renewable energy will emerge stronger than before, and the oil industry received a bigger blow than anticipated. The second-quarter data from Big Oil companies showed record losses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics oil, gas and mining industries continued to shed jobs. As we can see, the fossil fuels industry has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic induced crisis. The trends of the longevity of fossil fuel companies are very pessimistic not only because of economic impact but also due to the growing consciousness of governments and the public at large. A perfect example of this notion can be spotted in the EU plans and the promises of US presidential candidate Joe Biden. Green recovery – a term you might have heard if you stumbled upon EU's strategy for combating the economic crisis. The E-Mobility industry is among the winners of the green recovery EU strategy as the EV market is expected to get a boost from governmental subsidies.

Similar trends are seen in the US. As the US presidential election approaches, climate change is increasingly important for the candidates vying for their voters. In accordance with such trends, the democratic nominee Joe Biden has announced a more aggressive plan towards tackling climate change during his Wilmington, Delaware speech. His strategy has shifted from a more reserved one to a huge proposal to invest $2 trillion in green jobs and renewable energy support program. Among his plans, there is some excellent news for the E-Mobility sector as Biden promises to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations. If we want to have more EVs, it is crucial to construct enough infrastructure to eliminate charging anxiety, especially outside cities. 

 Books Contrarian Ventures Are Reading

We know the end of the summer is a quieter period for a lot of the ecosystem, so we wanted to share some of the books our team have found to be engaging:

It is amazing to "take a look under the hood" and understand the detailed thinking on the number of decisions the author has made throughout his career. The subject of culture is already very fluid, and creating one in your team is difficult enough (not even talking about maintaining it). We put this book on the list as it offers practical and philosophical guidance on the matter. If you have tried it, you will know, culture is hard to design and it takes constant work to reinforce. you need to do it subtly, and to refresh it constantly. A part that many Founders overlook while building their solutions, focusing on their customers, or fundraising, it is just as important and has to be created explicitly.

Even when you are working in a related field, it is hard to make the subject of the electrical grid sexy. This book makes the subject interesting and as easy to read as an article and gets a very important message across to any reader - the current system is not built for the new power generation technology. I liked the historical overview and details on how the system works, which is an important building block to understanding what it means for the future these new technologies are bringing to the grid. I think it is an essential read for any green advocate to understand the complexities that clean energy brings and what are the avenues for the clean transition. Also, blackout stories are really interesting.

A deeply-researched analysis, which uses a lot of statistical and numerical material to illustrate the conclusions of V.Smil. It is a good retrospective read, which will show how the energy transition is facing many of the challenges that were outlined a decade ago. It gets more enjoyable to read as you go through more satyrical evaluations of the road to decarbonization, and associated political and industrial targets. The book offers interesting background on how new discoveries and innovations elevated humans to a carbon-intense energy system, and how it can be decarbonized in the future. 
"A world without fossil fuel combustion is desirable, it will be eventually inevitable, and we should work to accelerate its arrival, but the process will be costly and it will take time as well as extraordinary commitment."

A slightly different take, but working with founders is as close a relationship to family as you can get. It offers interesting insights on what drives the way we engage with the people surrounding us and approach social situations. As there is more focus on the well being of founders and people working in the intense startup environment, this book offers insight on how to tolerate frustration, find new ways to solve challenges and foster the ability to be more flexible and see things from other people's point of view.

 Summit To Take Place On September 22-23

This year, based on the overwhelming feedback we received from previous events, we are extending the summit and changing the format to focus on certain topics, or "tracks", which include: Battery, Automation & AI, Future Grid, Hydrogen, E-Mobility, and Digitization.

We continue to onboard hundreds of energy tech & e-mobility Investors and Companies working on the sustainable energy transition to the network, and Energy Tech Summit is one of the essential platforms to bring our community together and foster meaningful connections.

We will also be announcing the finalists of the New Energy Challengers competition tracks each week leading up to the summit and will host the final for the prize during the event, so stay tuned and root for your favourite company!
Join Energy Tech Summit

SunIconContrarian Ventures Reading List

Europe’s Big Oil Companies Are Turning Electric
🛢️➡️🍃 Under pressure from governments and investors, industry leaders are accelerating their production of cleaner energy

Plummeting Renewable Energy, Battery Prices Mean Faster Transition to Clean Power
⚡ China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, is building the most power plants of any country in the world, making its decarbonization paramount to preventing dangerous climate change

Widespread EV Adoption Would Save Billions of Dollars
🔌‍⚕️Might sound intuitive, but now a study confirms the widespread adoption of EVs is going to save thousands of lives and billions of dollars

Hurry-IconBig Moves in the Market

🔋 Targets a 25 per cent market share in Europe by 2030 with 50 per cent of raw material secured from recycled batteries

Palmetto Closes on $29 Million Series B Raise
☀️ Software company focused on simplified energy savings for homeowners, with investors including Evergy Ventures, Shell Ventures, Greycroft and others.
Cowboy raises €23 million in Series B funding to build the vehicle of the future
🚲 Investors include Exor Seeds, HCVC, Index Ventures, Tiger Global, Isomer Capital and Future Positive Capital

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