The industrial revolutions accelerated human progress and caused a pivotal shift from medieval life to modern life. This shift led to the expansion of the industrial sector, from being only a synonym of textile space to acquiring every segment that is related to human living. However, on the flip side, this revolution resulted in excess emission of hazardous pollutants and disposable of products that were designed to make lives simpler. In the early 1970s, the world started to embrace a more environmentally friendly mindset.
Looking at this global issue, the UN Scientific Conference, also known as the First Earth Summit, was held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972, and adopted a declaration outlining principles for the preservation and enhancement of the human environment, as well as an action plan outlining recommendations for international environmental action.
For the first time, the declaration raised the issue of climate change in a section on the identification and control of pollutants of broad international significance, warning industries to be aware of activities that could lead to climate change.
However, it wasn’t easy for industries to follow the emission norms and achieve a net-zero target. Hence to help them, Svante Inc. – the company working for Carbon capture and removal, started its endeavor.
Named after Nobel Laureate Svante Arrhenius, one of the first scientists back in 1896 to identify the atmospheric carbon-climate change connection, Svante is the first name in commercially viable, economically scalable, second-generation carbon capture technology using solid sorbents.
In an interview with Insights Success, Claude Letourneau, the President & CEO of Svante Inc, sheds light on the journey of his company, its products to prevent CO2 from going into our atmosphere or removing CO2 from the air, and the importance of carbon management. Below are the highlights of the interview:
Please brief our audience about Svante Inc., its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as a trusted carbon capture and removal solutions provider.
Svante is a pure-play carbon capture and removal company. We offer companies in hard-to-abate industries such as cement, hydrogen, chemicals, and pulp & paper a commercially viable way to capture CO2 and enable a net-zero emission future.
You cannot see or smell CO2, so it took society more time to realize the impact of CO2 on the climate. Our business model is to build a scalable supply chain for active capture materials to support carbon capture and removal solutions at the Gigaton scale.
Shed some light on Svante’s offerings and how they impact the industry and its clients?
In almost any decarbonization and net-zero pathway, there will be a massive need to invest in Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) and Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR). It is an important weapon in the climate solution arsenal alongside renewables, electrification of our transport system and a shift to hydrogen as a carbon-free energy source. In the race to stop climate change, we are running out of time. It is a problem of scale and speed. We need to scale existing and new technology fast and in partnership of all these climate solutions.
Consensus has built that about 10,000 capture plants will be needed by 2050. Achieving even 20% of this over the next two decades means that we need to commission two world-scale CO2 capture plants per week for the next 20 years. This will require capital investment of about $2 trillion in infrastructure to capture and safely store carbon dioxide.
Cement and hydrogen production are two essential industries, but they emit more than 2.5 Gigatons of CO2 per year. These are called hard-to-abate industries. Svante technology can make green cement and blue hydrogen. Blue hydrogen made from natural gas is the lowest cost solution to make hydrogen, which is a critical path to decarbonize a variety of sectors, including transportation and other industries around the world that require heat for their main processes.
The challenge is about creating a commercial framework where policies, finance, and industry players are aligned. The business case is for society to have a voluntary price on carbon created by the ‘’Carrot – Stick’’ dynamic – incentives and penalties. It is about developing a ‘’CO2 Marketplace’’ where there is supply and demand for CO2 with convergence for the social price on carbon at 120 to 150 $US/ton CO2 and how key players commercially interact.
Public – Private and strategic partnerships will be essential to scale-up existing and new technologies fast with like-minded partners.
Large-scale capital investments in CCS will require long-term visibility on carbon prices, transferability of carbon credits and durability of government policies. Securing approvals for underground storage will also be critical.
Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on how the adoption of modern technologies has impacted the cleantech space and what more could be expected in the future?
At the top of the list of concerns is that of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil energy use. Society is facing a global carbon-related climate crisis. We are emitting more CO2 and other GHGs than the earth’s forests, oceans, and other natural systems can absorb. The consequences are increasingly evident, well-documented, and dire. We need to develop engineered solutions to support mother nature.
Conversations on climate change continue to be at the center stage of the energy transition debate, but it persists in being framed in the ‘either/or’ context; one that falsely pits the future of fossil energy against the shift to renewable options despite the fact that carbon is the backbone of our world economy.
We see this as particularly troubling because it doesn’t take into account the synergy and the brainpower of research, development, innovation, and technology in the adoption of modern, clean technologies – in addition to a lot of courage and patience – that can come together and ultimately make a big difference. Svante has benefited from the development and adoption of nanomaterials science and thin-film lithium battery and solar cell process technologies to develop and rapidly scale up its structured adsorbent filter technology.
Missing from the dialogue is the fact that the world will need all sources of primary energy – renewable and non-renewable – in order to meet future demands to build our growing infrastructure worldwide. Also, we need the energy providers to energize the CCUS and CDR plants using primarily renewables electricity (hydro-geothermal and solar) and steam.
Clean technology is a part of climate change solutions. Public policy that encourages responsible behavior in a more economically viable way must also be put forward. Smart climate policy can drive clean innovation and create new economic opportunities.
Take the situation of wind and solar energy, for example.
Germany was previously the hottest market, thanks to its renewable energy feed-in tariff rules.
China dominated at the time, thanks to massive government investments in renewable energy.
As a result of the increased demand from the two countries, more supply was created, lowering the cost of generating renewable energy in a relatively short amount of time.
Solar and wind power generation are now cost-competitive with fossil fuel power generation.
Expanding renewable production domestically also appears to have supported new opportunities internationally. Today, six of the top-10 global wind turbine manufacturers are German or Chinese. More than 70% of solar panel manufacturers are Chinese.
The manufacture of Svante’s nano-filters represents a unique growth opportunity for job creation in North America. Without policies and support, the manufacturing job will go to Asia.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the cleantech market?
There are two pathways to a cleantech market: software-based services and hardware-based products. Product development and commercialization are a very capital-intensive and long process to commercial pathway acceptance as an industry game-changer. You will spend 1$ in research, 10$ on the demonstration, and 100$ in commercialization over a period of about 7-10 years before generating revenues. Align your venture financing round with clear value creation milestones.
Field validation at a small commercial scale should be done in a beachhead market in partnership with an early adopter customer. You will then have to build market confidence with multiple installations. Remember – companies compete on a business model, and they keep track of sales of products and services to keep score of how successful the business model is.
How do you envision scaling Svante’s operations and offerings in 2022 and beyond?
Svante recently closed a Series D financing round led by Temasek of 100 M$US plus 25M$Can from the Canadian Government to set up the first commercial plant in Canada to make our proprietary nano-filters, thus making this the largest private investment in the space of carbon capture technology developments.
Our growth strategy is to be shovel-ready for the construction of several commercial-size carbon capture plants by the end of 2023. We have three partnership platforms to scale our business model: strategic supply chain platform, channel to market platform, and strategic account management with early adopters. These partnerships will allow us to focus our development effort on building a scalable supply chain for active capture materials.
In Vancouver, Canada, Svante is currently expanding its commercial filter manufacturing facilities. By the end of 2023, the new factory will be able to produce filter modules capable of removing three million tons of carbon dioxide per year, or the equivalent of three one million-ton-per-year world-scale carbon capture plants.
Remember: every week, the world must commission two world-class carbon capture facilities for the next 20 years.
About the Leader
Claude Letourneau is a chemical engineering and industrial projects veteran who brings Svante a wealth of experience in managing innovation and executing major world-class projects ranging from the lab to huge industrial facilities. Effort, enthusiasm, and excitement – the 3Es of visionary thinkers – characterize his leadership approach.
Mr. Letourneau, who is at ease bringing about change, has been steering the company since 2017 to be a global leader in developing a CO2 Marketplace, leveraging his 30 years of experience in advanced technology development and commercialization.
Claude formerly worked for a large engineering and construction firm in senior management positions. Vaperma, Inc. (membrane-based gas separation) and Avestor, Inc. (first thin-film solid lithium polymer batteries) are two of his technology firms.
These previous experiences have given this world-class CEO the essential knowledge to form new strategic alliances and partnerships with like-minded industry leaders, as well as to drive the company’s scaling up of the business with an ambitious time-to-market game plan.
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