Carbon Utility Wins the 2022 Future of Energy Challenge
Net Impact is excited to announce that Carbon Utility has won the 2022 Future of Energy Challenge!
In partnership with Shell Gamechanger, now in its fifth year, the Challenge invites participants to share creative and actionable social impact enterprises that will shape our path to a more sustainable energy future.
This year's participating teams were asked to focus on how we can broadly reduce emissions within the energy sector to help transition us to a more sustainable energy future. In June, five semi-finalist teams were selected to participate in an eight-week accelerator run by Rodrigo Gallego, founder of Social Chain, where they gained the connections, mentorship, and tools needed to develop their solution into a successful, scalable enterprise. The challenge culminated in a pitch event where the teams pitched their business solution to a panel of expert judges and competed for $10,000 to fund the further development of their business.
Carbon Utility, led by Jay Foster with Steve Miller, Steve Atkins, and Professor Tony Marmont, was selected as the winner of the 2022 Future of Energy Challenge for their innovative solution to harness direct air capture (DAC) technology to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and reuse it to create low-carbon products. DAC technology isn't new, but we know that it's part of the equation to reach the Paris Agreement's goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Carbon Utility takes DAC technology to the next level by making it modular, mobile, and globally accessible. They then repurpose the carbon captured from the atmosphere and use it to displace the carbon that we currently use in key carbon-emitting industries like food and beverage production. The result is a product that has the potential to displace 250 million tons of carbon dioxide that is generated every year (equivalent to taking 49.3 million cars off the road for a whole year) and replace them with carbon negative CO2, ultimately taking us one step closer to a sustainable energy future.
Following their win, we had the chance to talk with the team about their winning idea.
Congratulations on winning the 2022 Future of Energy Challenge. Tell us about how it feels to have won the competition.
We are honored to win the 2022 Future of Energy Challenge, competing against some great teams. This accelerator pushed us to further develop our value proposition and build a compelling story for the vision of our company. Ultimately, winning this challenge has provided us with validation of our technological approach and go-to-market strategy and instilled renewed optimism in our efforts to reverse the devastating effects of climate change.
How do you hope your winning idea will help the energy transition?
We have ambitious goals. We aim to remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere and reuse it as a commercial feedstock in the Food & Beverage industry and commercial greenhouses. Specifically, we want to remove at least 5 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2028 and ultimately transition into creating CO2-derived fuels which displace existing fossil fuel-based sources. This is just the start, though! We collectively need to remove 7 gigatons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year by 2050, and that cannot happen without mass-scale direct air capture and fuel transition.
What is next for you and your team?
Winning this competition will allow us to start a demonstration project and hopefully lead to a funding round. We have submitted multiple SBIR grants and are discussing with other commercial partners for projects we can't yet discuss, but the future looks bright! (and filled with less CO2).
What advice would you have for next year's Future of Energy Challenge teams or any other entrepreneurial team like yours that works to create big solutions to big climate change problems?
At the start of the 2022 challenge, it was made clear to us that we would get out of the program what we put into it, and it was so true. there are a lot of tools, resources, and connections that you gain access to participating in this challenge, and it is up to you to use them and maximize your time during this 8-week program. This access we had to industry experts, as well as our mentor at Shell, was incredible and something that few early-stage startups have the opportunity to take advantage of.
I'd encourage any team participating in taking advantage of the opportunity from day 1 and challenge any pre-existing go-to-market strategy or product market fit that you might have. Big solutions to big climate problems generally involve significant industry disruption and complexity, challenging start-up companies and founders. Truly understanding your solutions, value proposition, and GTM strategy is critical to long-term success. This program will provide those tools if you put in the effort!
To learn more about the Future of Energy Challenge and how you can participate, click here.