Guidebook for Early Climate Infrastructure: Case Studies of First of a Kind Projects


  • Madison C Freeman
Publish Date:
April 18, 2024
Publication Title:
Stanford Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance
White Paper
  • Freeman, Madison C. "Guidebook for Early Climate Infrastructure." Stanford Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, April 18, 2024.
Related Organization(s):


The early-stage climate technology ecosystem is flourishing, and an increasing number of entrepreneurs and scientists are bringing forward startup companies with promising solutions for some of our hardest challenges. Many of the climate problems that once seemed nearly impossible to address—decarbonizing cement, storing low-carbon power for days, replacing high-temperature heat in heavy industry—now have alternatives demonstrating viability in pilot projects around the globe.

However, scaling these innovations to commercial scale presents technology, operational, customer, and construction risks that make them difficult to finance through any traditional sources of lower-cost capital like project or infrastructure finance. Increasing attention has been given to this first-of-a-kind “valley of death,” but startups have limited visibility on the levers they can pull in advance of their first commercial-scale project to smooth their trajectory.

This white paper is designed as a guidebook for early-stage climate startups to prepare for project scale, including case studies from four recent deployments, risk mitigation levers from the perspective of project investors, and strategies for developing greater sources of capital, knowledge, and operational capacity.