Editor’s note: As the consequences of climate change are increasingly felt, carbon neutrality has evolved from a noble goal to an urgent global mission that entails arduous efforts from both the public and private sectors, especially support from low-carbon tech companies. We at EqualOcean selected 30 Chinese players in this field for your reference.
Ever since the birth of the Kyoto Protocol, ‘carbon reduction’ has long haunted media coverage, yet more as hype than commitment. However, the climate has changed as 197 countries and regions joined Glasgow Climate Pact and numerous net-zero pledges made by political and business leaders sprung up. China, as a major carbon emitter, also announced its ‘dual carbon target’: to achieve carbon peak by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060.
Low carbon is one of the most remarkable trends in this century, unleashing enormous opportunities for all businesses, especially for tech companies that enjoy the potential to decarbonize their way out of competition.
Many Chinese companies have acquired an early toehold in this promising field. The following are 30 rising players selected from key fields based on a number of criteria, including technological strengths, financing capacity, and project experiences. This list is in no particular order.
Energy Storage Technology
To power the global green transition, efficient and economic energy storage is a necessity, which if scaled up, could bring about unprecedented changes in the power industry in the future. Many companies are making their contributions to this lofty goal.
Established in 2012, Enpower Greentech (Chinese: 恩力动力) is a joint venture focused on the industrialization, R&D, production and sales of next-generation solid-state batteries. On June 30, 2022, it raised more than USD 20 million in a Series A+ round, jointly led by Sequoia China and Dayone Captial, with participation from GAC Capital, Broad Resources, Tianqi Capital, and Niuli Capital. Earlier this year it received over USD 15 million in its Series A round.
Enpower has cooperation with top-notch scientists, such as Professor John Goodenough, a Nobel laureate in chemistry, and Professor Ryoji Kanno, the inventor of Lithium superionic conductors with the Li10GeP2S12 (LGPS)-type structure.
ZH Energy (Chinese:中和储能), a developer of energy storage technologies, received tens of millions of CNY in the Seed round from Sequoia China in March 2022. The proceeds will be mainly used for talent recruiting and pilot testing of patented products.
The company develops flow battery products based on electrochemical energy storage technology, committing to achieving carbon neutrality through the industrialization of energy storage technology.
Alpha ESS Co., Ltd. (Chinese: 沃太能源) is a leading global energy storage solution and service provider featuring electrochemical energy storage systems. It raised tens of millions of CNY from the Series B+ round in 2017, led by CGN Private Equity Fund.
Alpha ESS specializes in residential and commercial applications and provides local services and 75000+ systems in over 75 countries. In 2021, its monthly sales were CNY 80 million (USD 11.946 million) to CNY 100 million in peak season.
Established in 2015, Shenzhen Cubenergy Co., Ltd. (Chinese: 库博能源) harvested tens of millions of CNY in its Series A funding round in October 2021, led by Qiming Venture Partners, with participation from Green Pine Capital and Yuanhe Capital as its exclusive financial advisor.
Cubenergy is a manufacturer of C&I scale stationary Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). It commissioned the first BESS in January 2017 and till the end of 2022, the company has accumulatively manufactured 620MWh BESS and battery strings.
Shenyang Vycon New Energy Technology Co., Ltd. (Chinese: 沈阳微控新能源技术有限公司), a flywheel energy storage (FES) solutions provider, is a national high-tech enterprise with R&D centers in Shenzhen and Los Angeles, and branches in several cities in China. It has reached a comprehensive exclusive global strategic partnership with VYCON, INC. and has been entitled to all technologies of VYCON, INC. and the right to use the VYCON brand.
Since 2014, its REGEN FES system has been applied to the Red Line in Los Angeles, with more than 1 million cycles of system charging and discharging, saving 1.6-1.8 MW of energy per day and a lot of operating costs.
Strengthened climate goals and new investment incentives are delivering unprecedented momentum for Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS) technologies. Due to the whopping upfront investment and long payback period, Chinese players are still in their infancy, exploring technological breakthroughs and viable business models.
Poly Material Technology
Poly Material Technology (Chinese: 普力材料) pocketed CNY 15 million in Series A round in August 2021, led by Ningbo Lingzhou Chemical Co., Ltd. The proceeds were mainly for the R&D of downstream polyurethane (PU) applications of CO2-based polycarbon polyols. It completed the Series B funding round in 2022, led by Jinlong Group.
It is dedicated to the R&D and industrialization of environmentally friendly high-performance materials for the high-value utilization of carbon dioxide.
Founded in 2021, Clean CO₂ (Chinese: 清洁捕获) is an innovative company that focuses on the development and commercialization of Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) technology. It completed the Angel round with millions of CNY invested by K2VC.
The company currently focuses on building materials, trying to sequester the captured CO₂ in concrete materials, which has the potential to produce low-carbon concrete products with 80% less carbon footprint.
Carbon Energy Technology
Carbon Energy Technology (Beijing) Co. Ltd. (Chinese: 北京碳能科技), a national high-tech enterprise dedicated to the R&D and commercialization of carbon utilization technology, completed its Series A round with hundreds of millions of CNY, led by Sequoia Capital China Seed Fund, with participation from MiraclePlus.
Carbon Energy Technology has independently developed carbon dioxide electro-reduction catalyst and electrolytic cell diaphragm technology, which can convert industrial carbon dioxide emissions into zero-carbon fuels and green chemicals.
Carbon New Material Technology
Carbon (Shenzhen) New Material Technology (Chinese: 碳达新材) raised CNY 7.5 million in the Angel round, led by Shenzhen Zhongmei Innovation Capital Management Co., Ltd in August 2021.
Carbon New Material Technology is committed to developing carbon capture and utilization technologies with clear emission reduction accounting and high economic efficiency.
Sinoma Energy Conservation
Sinoma Energy Conservation Ltd. (SEC, Chinese: 中材节能) is a waste heat capture specialist company and has intellectual support from the SEC Central Research Institute, SEC Industrial Designing Institute and Wuhan Building Materials Industry Design & Research Institute Co., Ltd.
The company boasts expertise in waste heat recycling (WHR). In December 2021, SEC signed the ‘CCS Engineering Consultancy Contract’ with the International CCS Knowledge Center, a renowned Canadian non-profit organization. It was responsible for the design of the WHR system which allows it to recover heat from the flue gases exiting the preheater tower and clinker cooler air, marking an excellent international debut and increasing influence.
Hydrogen, a clean fuel that, when consumed, produces only water, is believed to be of great potential in meeting the world’s future energy demands without breaking our climate promises. The ‘fuel of the future’ has attracted many companies.
Fenergy (Chinese:锋源氢能) specializes in the localization of hydrogen fuel cell stacks. It has close R&D cooperation with Tsinghua University. Fenergy received investments worth hundreds of millions of CNY in 2021 from SummitView Capital, Flyfot Ventures, Thor Capital and some strategic investors.
Fenergy has become one of the few companies which have realized mass production of fuel cell stacks features "self-reliance in three aspects". Its core team is composed of top scientists, with R&D personnel accounting for more than 70%.
Wuhan Zhongji Hydrogen Energy
Established in 2017, Wuhan Zhongji Hydrogen Energy Development Co., Ltd (ZJHE, Chinese: 武汉中极氢能源发展有限公司) focuses on the hydrogen production, storage and transportation and hydrogen fueling station construction. It is the first hydrogen project in which CHN Energy holds a stake.
In 2018, the company constructed the first hydrogen refueling station in Wuhan which can supply 300 kilograms of hydrogen per day, demonstrating how a future hydrogen bus system would work.
CEMT (Chinese：爱德曼氢能), a manufacturer of automotive fuel cell systems, has won popularity among investors in the past year. In June 2021, it completed the Series A funding round with CNY 100 million, led by Fresh Capital. One month later, it received nearly CNY 100 million in Series A+, led by China Capital Management. In February 2022, it completed Series B with over CNY 400 million, led by Oriza Holdings and TH Capital.
CEMT is one of the very few companies in China that has the mass production capability of fuel cell metal bipolar plates and membrane electrodes and the only high-tech enterprise that manufactures both fuel cell systems and overall equipment production lines.
SPIC Hydrogen Energy
SPIC Hydrogen Energy (Chinese: 国氢科技) raised CNY 108 million from the Series A+ funding round in December 2021, with 16 strategic investors pouring their money.
SPIC Hydrogen Energy is to launch its Series B round in 2022, aiming to squeeze into the unicorn club and complete an IPO with a market value of over CNY 100 billion from 2023 to 2025.
Established in 2017, Innoreagen (Chinese: 新研氢能) is dedicated to the R&D, promotion and application of efficient and environmentally friendly new energy technologies. In June 2022, it received hundreds of millions of CNY from the Series A round, led by E-Town Capital.
The proceeds will flow to the construction of its Beijing headquarter, Chengdu and Datong bases, the expansion of the R&D teams in Beijing and Dalian, product upgrades and market expansion.