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Inside cleantech’s financial crisis

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Today, we’re breaking down the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and what it means for the climate tech startups and community solar financers that depended on it.

Silicon Valley Bank’s spiral began last Wednesday when it told investors it needed to quickly raise $2.25 billion to stay afloat. Clients quickly started pulling their money out of SVB, many of them climate and cleantech investors and companies.

Federal regulators stepped in on Friday, taking over and then shutting down SVB. The move essentially rescued the deposits of SVB clients — including at least 1,550 startups working on climate and clean energy projects.

“It feels like we just avoided the apocalypse,” Jim Kapsis, a former Treasury Department adviser who has advised dozens of climate tech startups, told the Washington Post. But that doesn’t mean climate investors and startups are fully recovered from their near-death experience.

About half the startups developing and scaling up new clean energy technologies relied on SVB, and some had just raised millions of dollars before being locked out of their accounts. SVB also said it was involved in about 60% of all community solar investing nationwide.

So as startups and investors figure out how to pay employees and keep their cash safe, climate and clean energy projects will likely have to wait on the back burner, the New York Times reports.


More clean energy news

⏪ Biden’s climate campaign reversal: President Biden set to approve the massive Willow oil drilling project in Alaska despite his campaign promises of allowing “no new drilling on federal lands, period,” spurring threats of legal action from environmentalists. (Grist, E&E News)

🔋 Your iPhone is cleaning up the grid: A new iPhone feature automatically turns charging on and off as renewable electricity supplies peak and fall, helping ensure the devices are running on the cleanest power possible. (Washington Post)

  • 💬 Some iPhone users aren’t happy Apple rolled out this new charging feature without warning. If you have an iPhone, will you keep the feature on? Reply to this email and tell us why or why not.

💸 Federal climate investment’s next steps: President Biden’s proposed budget for next year includes billions for clean energy, climate adaptation and energy efficiency. (E&E News)

🏭 Air pollution’s disparate effects: An new analysis shows with “an unprecedented level of detail” how air pollution in the U.S. is concentrated in communities of color. (The Guardian)

☀️ Sun-day best: U.S. houses of worship are home to a relatively large number of solar panels, presenting a unique opportunity to build out solar capacity beyond home rooftops. (PV Magazine)


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