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GreenSpace Tech Research

Existing, emerging and yet to be developed technologies can help unlock the transition to a low-carbon economy. Navigate the quickly changing climate technology landscape. Connect innovation to industry.

Accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy present challenges unprecedented in our lifetimes and will require faster development, commercialisation and scaling of new and future cutting-edge technologies. Deloitte is inspired by the innovators who are seeking to drive the progress needed to make this transition at the pace required. Actors in the emerging low-carbon economy are looking to explore multiple avenues to bring their solutions to market and put innovative technologies and practices into production.

GreenSpace Tech by Deloitte helps connect climate technologies to industry via an ecosystem spanning start-ups, research institutes, incubators, accelerators and universities. Deloitte combines start-up commercialisation and climate knowledge to help support industry to unlock value through the integration of these new and emerging climate technologies. 

Understanding climate technologies can be essential to devising a decarbonisation strategy, exploring new business opportunities and developing new operating models. The research briefs provide an overview of key climate technologies, trends and opportunities. If you are an innovation leader, a corporate strategist, a technology leader or a sustainability and climate executive—or you just want to get up to speed on climate technologies—read on.

To learn more about Deloitte’s sensing and scanning capabilities or global ecosystem network and vast climate and commercialisation knowledge with GreenSpace Tech by Deloitte, get in touch.

Hard climate technologies in focus

Hydropower production is the largest source of low-emissions electricity globally and production needs to double by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Net Zero Emissions Scenario. But opposition to the construction of big dams, high development costs and the growth of wind and solar power have slashed investments in hydropower. Technological innovations have the potential to boost hydropower production with new methods at lower ecological and social costs.

This research brief from GreenSpace Tech Research explores technological innovations in hydropower that have the potential to help double current output by 2050, which the IEA estimates may be needed to help achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by that year. These innovations, if deployed, could increase capacity by 25% to 40% by 2050 and have the potential to give a second wind, as it were, to hydropower.

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Concrete is the most used manmade material on earth.It’s also a significant source of human-generated carbon (CO2) emissions—about 7% of the total. Many cement and concrete suppliers have already taken steps to reduce their emissions by increasing energy efficiency of kilns and other equipment and using supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) and lower-carbon alternative fuels. However, even with the adoption of all three of these methods, a cement plant may reduce emissions by only 50%-60%. To fully decarbonise, cement and concrete manufacturers will likely need other solutions. A new raft of solutions is emerging, each with its own trade-offs.

This research brief from GreenSpace Tech Research includes analysis of dozens of lower-carbon concrete startup companies working on carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) and alternative cement chemistries (ACC) technologies; the brief details commercial trends, opportunities and challenges related to these technologies, as well as their potential to help the sector decarbonise.

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There can be no effective response to climate change without technology. We need technologies to help generate energy, manufacture goods and move people and materials—all while emitting few or no greenhouse gases. This imperative—and the commercial opportunity that it can represent—has contributed to at least US$80 billion investment in climate tech, according to Deloitte analysis based on Pitchbook and Deloitte GreenSpace Navigator data.

This research brief from GreenSpace Tech Research draws upon data on more than 2,600 climate tech companies around the world to identify geographic trends in climate tech that could help climate tech entrepreneurs, investors and policymakers, exploit geographic comparative advantage or shape it.

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Lithium is a mineral critical to the energy transition. A crucial ingredient in batteries for consumer electronics, laptop computers and electric vehicles (EVs), demand for the mineral is expected to soar in the coming decades. Current lithium production methods may have trouble keeping up, but a promising new production method known as Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) might help to fill the gap. While not yet proven at scale, DLE is being nurtured by significant private and public investment and multiple pilot projects.

This research brief from GreenSpace Tech by Deloitte highlights the challenges associated with DLE, investment interest and capital requirements and how an ecosystem approach can help to manage risk.

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Steel production directly accounts for some 7% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. With an eye on regulation and emission-conscious customers, major steelmakers are exploring greener production pathways. The transition will take time and a lot of money. And the new pathways being explored face several challenges, including high costs and potential scarcity of raw materials and other inputs. GreenSpace Tech by Deloitte is exploring emerging technologies and steelmaking value chain changes that could help to overcome some of these hurdles.

The steel industry is often referred to as "hard to abate." The interplay of technology, operations, supply chain and capital required for progress are the reason for this. Players up and down the value chain as well as in policy and finance all have a role to play. Collaboration will be key to make the progress required, at the pace required, to decarbonise the industry.

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Carbon capture is increasingly viewed as a vital tool in mitigating climate change. Specialists see few viable paths to net-zero without it. However, it remains relatively costly and immature: only two of the 12 most mature technologies analysed by GreenSpace Tech by Deloitte have reached a commercial stage of adoption for any application. Greater investment is likely needed for research and scaling innovative carbon capture methods. Carbon capture offers significant commercial opportunities for those able to build scalable solutions in this nascent domain.

Drawing on information and insights from the GreenSpace Tech network, this brief helps to map a dozen carbon capture technologies across 14 critical applications, places carbon capture in the context of the global net-zero imperative and highlights some of the opportunities for companies able to seize them.

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Long-duration energy storage (LDES) will play a crucial role in the clean energy transition. It will be needed to enhance reliability in power grids as they integrate growing amounts of intermittent renewable energy resources such as solar and wind. When charged from clean sources, LDES can also enable clean heat for industrial processes. And it can provide clean backup power for remote and off-grid mines, data centres, buildings and farms, among other applications. For some organisations, now may be an excellent time to evaluate and pilot LDES. Indeed, a growing number are already doing so.
Drawing on information and insights from the GreenSpace Tech network, this brief profiles leading LDES technologies, highlights current adoption trends and notes the critical role that government incentives are playing in catalyzing this important but early-stage market.

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As the electric vehicle market grows, so does the demand for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). Growing adoption of electric vehicles will be good news for the climate but maintaining battery supply has its own challenges. Improving and expanding the battery recycling process can help to meet a critical need to bolster the supply of valuable minerals for batteries while reducing their environmental impact. Innovation is occurring across the battery recycling value chain, with digital technologies set to play a key role.

This research brief from GreenSpace Tech by Deloitte highlights technology innovations across the four major stages in the battery recycling value chain and profiles recycling technologies that could range in maturity from conceptual to commercial.

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