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Climate change: an opportunity for innovative people

For several years, the start-up scene has been booming. More and more people are opting for professional independence and trying to implement a potentially profitable business idea. However, as it becomes increasingly difficult to innovate in markets that are often already saturated, the challenges posed by todays issues are opening up new opportunities for talented entrepreneurs. In this article, STARTUPS.CH looks back at 3 international start-ups that have been able to react to current challenges by proposing innovative business models.

Eco Wave Power (Sweden) – Mobilizing wave energy

Among the global electricity mix, oil and gas remain the two main sources of electricity production, while according to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), in 2050, 75 to 80% of global electricity should come from renewable sources to maintain a good chance of not exceeding 1.5°C of global warming. As its name suggests, Eco Wave Power focuses on wave energy. With a power plant in operation and connected to the Gibraltar power grid, the Swedish start-up, founded in 2011 in Israel, and listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange since the summer of 2019, is already well on its way. His idea is simple: floats, placed on coastal infrastructures and oscillating with the movement of the waves, connected to power plants to transform this kinetic energy into electricity.

Materr’Up (France) – Producing low-carbon concrete

Fossil fuels are not the only cause of global warming and to make a successful energy transition, it will be necessary to adapt industrial processes. On this point, the question of concrete is central since it is responsible for between 4 and 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions. This is due to the manufacture of this resource, whose robustness, usability and abundance have made it widely used in construction. Thus, the firing of its raw material, clinker, leads to decarbonation and to the release of large quantities of the heating gas. A problem that the two brothers who founded the young French start-up Materr’Up – which wants to launch its production in 2020 – aspire to solve by offering low-carbon concrete. Made from clay and clayey excavation soils, using existing concrete industry tools and without firing, the start-up founders claim that their Crosslinked Clay Cement technology would produce a binder that emits 80% less greenhouse gases than a conventional cement.

Climeworks (Switzerland) – Capturing carbon and reversing climate change?

Few people are familiar with the “Direct Air Capture” technique that Climeworks is developing to minimize climate change. According to the IPCC, the capture of atmospheric carbon would be necessary in order to avoid exceeding the fateful +1.5°C limit by 2100, and for now, emissions are not being reversed. What should we do then? Remove carbon from the atmosphere once it has been emitted. The principle is simple: in two-meter long cubic metal collectors, a filtering material is bonded to CO2, which reacts like an acid. Once saturated, the cube is heated to recover CO2, which will then be stored in the ground, transformed into a carbon-neutral synthetic fuel, or used as fertilizer in agricultural greenhouses. Or even reused in sparkling beverages. The company, which was founded in 2009, currently owns 14 power plants. The largest, located near Zurich, removes 1000 tonnes of CO2 per year. However, generalizing this process will not be easy as it remains energy-intensive (2500 KWh per tonne of CO2).

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