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Air protein technology company secures first funding from climate fund

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The company says changing the way protein is produced will affect not only greenhouse gases, but a wide range of other climate issues as well.

Image: Esko Jämsä / PDO

The three-year-old start-up Solar Foods has received € 10 million in funding from the Finnish Climate Fund, the organization’s first investment.

The investment loan now granted will be used to start the production on a commercial scale of proteins for human consumption based on atmospheric carbon dioxide and electricity.

According to the CEO of Solar Foods Pasi Vainikka, the company’s goal is to sever the direct link between food production and agriculture.

“Our gift to society, the very essence of what we do, is to decouple food production from agriculture. After that, all climate benefits fall into your hands when this disconnect can be achieved, ”says Vainikka.

The company says changing the way protein is produced will have an effect not only on greenhouse gases, but also on changes in land use, soil depletion, biodiversity and the condition of water systems.

Traditional food production is one of the biggest burdens on ecosystems in Finland and the world, while deforestation caused by food production in developing countries, for example, exacerbates the climate crisis.

Exceptional project

The Finnish Climate Fund describes the planned Solar Foods facility as the world’s first commercial facility to produce protein from carbon dioxide and electricity. The new plant should be operational in early 2023.

In an address to the media at the announcement of the loan agreements, the chairman of the Finnish Climate Fund Perttu Puro underlined the specificity of this first investment decision.

“When it comes to Solar Foods, it’s also good to note that it’s well understood, or at least I think so, that this is a very exceptional project,” he said.

In practice, funding can be provided for more proven technologies.

“I believe that in the future the decisions of the Climate Fund will be a little more down-to-earth. Among them, there will be more conventional and established companies,” added Puro.

The Finnish Climate Fund is a state-owned company with operations focused on tackling climate change, stimulating low-carbon industry and promoting digitization.

Depending on the funding category and the purpose, funding from the Climate Fund can vary between 1 and 20 million euros. Around 65% of investments are linked to climate change and around 35% to climate-related digitization. Its annual financing volume is around 80 million euros.

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