Financing first-of-a-kind climate assets

Before any novel technology can make it big, its very first project needs to be finished — and financed.

On the Catalyst with Shayle Kann podcast this week:

There’s a hole in the finance world. Fighting climate change means scaling up lots of new technologies, but financing those first-of-a-kind (FOAK) projects is incredibly difficult. New technologies involving things like sustainable aviation fuel, geothermal and direct air capture can take a decade or more to scale up. But venture capital is too expensive for FOAK projects, while infrastructure finance is too risk-averse.

So what solutions could solve the FOAK financing problem? 

In this episode, Shayle talks to longtime climatetech investor David Yeh. He was most recently the managing director at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and served as a senior adviser on climatetech in the Obama administration.

They cover topics including:

  • Different approaches to financing FOAK technology: off-balance-sheet, structured finance, catalytic capital and government programs.

  • Examples of companies that solved the FOAK problem.

  • Code-switching between venture capitalists and infrastructure financiers (try using the word innovative” with traditional bankers).

  • David’s checklist for FOAK entrepreneurs.

Recommended resources:

  • Bloomberg: Grant from Bill Gates–led fund will make green jet fuel as cheap as fossil fuels

  • CTVC: What the FOAK?

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Catalyst is a co-production of Latitude Media and Canary Media.

Catalyst is brought to you by BayWa r.e., a leading global renewable energy developer, service supplier and distributor. With over 22 gigawatts in its project pipeline, BayWa r.e. is rethinking energy every day and at every level. Committed to being a solid partner for the long run, BayWa r.e. wants to work with you to help shape the future of energy. Learn more at bay.wa-re.com.

Catalyst is brought to you by Sungrow. Now in more than 150 countries, Sungrow’s solutions include inverters for utility-scale, commercial and industrial solar, plus energy storage systems. Learn more at us.sungrowpower.com.