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The 10 most innovative energy companies of 2021

Here’s what they’re doing to create a cleaner future.

The 10 most innovative energy companies of 2021
[Icon: Assignment Studios]
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Whether delivering electricity to remote communities or providing road maps to guide cities toward achieving carbon neutrality, these 10 companies are creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing energy challenges.

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1. SparkMeter

For bringing smart grids to off-the-grid

SparkMeter allows for more efficient (and remote) microgrid management, key for rural communities. Last year, the company’s approach was validated by a $12 million Series A round led by Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

2. Ørsted

For creating a cleaner kind of energy company

The Danish energy company (formerly DONG) is growing its renewable portfolio and announced plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025, which would make it the first major energy company to reach net-zero emissions in its energy generation.

3. Enel X

For a better way to charge

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Enel X‘s EV charger, the JuiceBox, enables cars to charge when the grid is producing the cleanest energy. During recent power emergencies in California, it curtailed usage during periods of peak demand, shortening power outage durations.

4. Fluence

For storing success

The battery company, which hit $1 billion in sales last year, has installed major energy storage facilities around the world, helping grids avoid the use of “peaker plants,” dirty coal-burning power generators activated when the grid needs extra energy.

[Illustration: Pilar Torcal]

5. ClimateView

For visualizing a path to zero carbon

Hundreds of cities are setting goals to reach net-zero carbon emissions. Startup ClimateView makes tools to help them take the next steps as quickly as possible. “We break down the big climate goal into specific, measurable pieces, and then show how each one of those pieces should be implemented,” says founder and CEO Tomer Shalit. “We’re giving them the building blocks to create a living climate action plan.” Instead of spending months analyzing sources of emissions, cities can turn to the platform for an estimate of likely culprits and recommendations for policies that can shrink emissions. A data visualization lets planners see overall emissions, drill down into specific sources, and then see the impact of potential laws or programs and track progress as changes are implemented. After launching at home in Sweden, in 2018, the company began working with cities in other parts of Europe and the U.K. In 2021, it plans to begin working in the United States.

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6. Pine Gate Renewables

For major solar expansion

The solar company operates in the Carolinas, Rhode Island, Oregon, and (soon) Michigan. Special fencing allows animal access, and beehives under the panels make its Oregon location the largest solar farm apiary in the U.S.

7. Turntide

For a motor you can monitor

Turntide‘s Smart Motor System optimizes motor energy use and helps eliminate mechanical issues. The company was an early recipient of Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, a $2 billion venture program for companies contributing to net-zero carbon goals.

8. Oxford Properties

For revolutionizing the wooden skyscraper

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In 2020, Oxford completed the world’s largest mass-timber residential project, Arbora in Montreal, and broke ground on the Stack, set to be Vancouver’s largest office tower and one of the world’s first zero-carbon skyscrapers on completion, in 2022.

9. Atom Power

For breaking the mold of the circuit breaker

The company‘s Atom Switch, a new digital circuit breaker that’s 3,000 times faster than the traditional circuit breaker, lets users intelligently manage energy sources, including solar, wind, backup generators, and more, alongside their traditional utility sources.

10. Sealed

For pumping up the heat-pump market

Installing efficient, new heat-pump technology can cost up to $30,000, but Sealed‘s Climate Control Plan (which is being promoted to homeowners by Con Edison and other major utilities) covers up-front costs in exchange for a cut of energy savings.