The 46 climate-tech startups that VCs say are set to pop in 2021

A decade ago, clean tech was a dirty word. Venture capital investors burned billions betting on solar panels, batteries, and biofuels, causing them to retreat from the industry. 

Now the clean-tech industry is roaring once more, though many investors have given it a new label: Climate tech.

VCs have poured almost $16 billion into the sector already this year, according to clean-tech data PitchBook shared with Business Insider. That’s up from an average of about $5.6 billion per year between 2008 and 2016. And 6 cents of every VC dollar spent last year went towards climate tech, a PwC report shows. 

Read more: The 6 climate-tech startups that top VCs can’t stop talking about

There’s some fear that the sector could go bust again. But this time around, what industry professionals call cleantech 2.0 is “fundamentally different,” according to Emily Kirsch, the CEO and founder of Powerhouse, a cleantech innovation firm and venture fund.

For one, a spate of major corporations including oil companies and tech firms have committed to lowering their emissions over the next three decades, Kirsch said. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable energy has fallen dramatically.

The incoming US administration has shown strong support for clean energy to boot

“We’ve never been more excited about the state of climate technology than we are now,” Kirsch said. 

Opus 12

Founders of the startup Opus 12. From left to right, Kendra Kuhl, Nicholas Flanders, and Etosha Cave.
Opus 12

VCs have no shortage of companies to choose from. In the PwC report, which focused on climate tech, the firm identified more than 1,200 startups working on a wide range of technologies, from fusion energy to plant-based proteins. What they share is a product that helps lower carbon emissions. 

Read more: Billionaire investor Vinod Khosla shares the 4 most promising sectors he’s betting on in the booming climate-tech industry

Some climate-tech startups are already household names, like Impossible Foods, while others are starting to gain steam and pull in major investors including Form Energy. Many more still are working on promising tech that flies under the radar of mainstream investors. 

With 2021 likely to be a huge year for climate tech, we asked 15 of the top VC firms and incubators which startups they think are set to soar. The firms — ranging from Khosla Ventures to Greentown Labs — offered up 46 of them

The full list is available exclusively to Business Insider subscribers. Click here to continue reading.

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