S1 Episode 8: Talking Sustainable Energy

Climate change has become the defining crisis of our time and its consequences are increasingly devastating. It’s clear that business as usual is not good enough, and now is the time for bold action. Divigas and Green Li-ion are two companies tackling the future of energy and our planet. 

Divigas has invented a new kind of hydrogen membrane that can save billions of dollars per year for existing industries and avoid up to 750 million tons of CO2 emissions per year. Green Li-ion is creating sustainable models for battery recycling and their current product is able to reduce the carbon footprint for e-recyclers and lithium-ion battery recyclers by up to 8 times. 

In this episode, we speak with Andre Lorenceau, co-founder and CEO of Divigas, and Leon Farrant who holds the same position at Green Li-ion. They join host and Entrepreneur First’s co-founder and CEO, Matt Clifford and share their perspectives about being at the forefront of technology and driving this change.

Show notes:

The shift to a low-carbon future is turning the economy inside out. Policy has a crucial role to play, but ultimately it is businesses that will make the energy transition happen. Many start-ups around the world are at the forefront of this change by bringing novel ideas to market, ahead of incumbents. In fact, even incumbents are betting on start-up innovation.

With the growth of the EV industry, the adoption of lithium-ion batteries has grown rapidly: [4:20] The global Lithium-ion battery recycling market size is projected to reach $17.6 billion US dollars by 2027, from US$ 2.2 billion in 2020. This is at a CAGR of 38.1% during 2021-2027. To reduce our reliance on mining and raw materials used to build these batteries, Green Li-ion has an ambitious plan to rejuvenate them instead.

Andre’s and Leon’s start in the energy sector: [7:00] For Andre, he had his start in media, and then found himself in the energy space. For Leon, while he had spent a lot of time in the energy sector already, it was only at Entrepreneur First that he discovered the significance of non-obvious problems such as batteries and the existential risk it would pose. 

Getting their start founding in Singapore: [9:50] Both Andre and Leon chose to found their companies in Singapore. Singapore was our second office after London, and the companies that are being built in the city state are impressive. Like many governments, they also actively support and nurture the sector with a plethora of support programmes. But for many startups, a relatively small domestic market can slow expansion. Leon and Andre shared about their experience coming to Singapore and building their companies there. 

New technologies have a vital role to play in addressing the climate crisis: [15:40] Divigas and Green Li-ion are doing genuine innovation in atoms, rather than bits. Leon observed that compared to software startups which benefit from a common set of infrastructure, in the battery sector, Green Li-ion is often starting from scratch. 

Tackling fundraising: [19:50] Andre and Leon’s companies demonstrate a superior solution to a specific problem they’ve identified in their industries. However, their companies require significant investment, including access to government grants. I asked them to share how their fundraising journey has been, and also how recent legislative changes are now shifting in the right direction globally.  

Are we more optimistic about the future of the planet? [27:00] Andre and Leon’s companies aim to mitigate some of the negative impacts of climate change and time in this field made them more or less optimistic about the future of our planet. 

Advice for future entrepreneurs and looking towards the clean tech opportunity: [28:28] Founders take on some of the biggest problems and some of the biggest risks. Both founders agree that the size of the problems in climate tech is massive and is continuing to grow.