AI-enabled Cleantech Leaps Forward but Targeted Applications are Crucial for Success

Almost $30B Has Been Invested in the Last Six Years in AI-enabled Cleantech Solutions, but Another $138B Will be Needed, says Cleantech Group

San Francisco, CA – February 27, 2024 – Global demand for AI-enabled cleantech solutions (“cleanAI”) is predicted to rise steadily as it already accounts for 12% of investments across all cleantech-related contracts in the last six years — almost $30B in risk capital. There is at least a $138B investment opportunity through 2030, according to a study conducted by Cleantech Group in its role as the research partner of the newly launched Clean AI Initiative.

The emerging cleanAI sector is significant as it has the potential to mitigate up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. CleanAI enables differentiated business models and data strategies with targeted applications, distinct from generative AI.

CleanAI solutions can help address climate challenges across different industries. Solutions with the most far-reaching potential in terms of addressing climate change adaptation would be in chemicals and catalyst discovery, and ingredients and protein formulations, since they allow change to their industries.

Video: Cleaning Up With AI: Nino Lazariia Speaks with Nicholas Parker

CleanAI video

“Innovators need to have targeted applications to provide differentiated solutions with the highest sustainability potential to be competitive,” said Nino Lazariia, Consultant at Cleantech Group and co-author of the report.

“As over 70% of innovators are in early stages, solutions are not yet widely commercialized and need to grow from the R&D stage,” Lazariia said. “Key priorities for innovators now are reducing cost and time to train the models as well as addressing data challenges.”

“Venture capital investment is a proxy indicator of where open, disruptive innovation is happening”, said Nicholas Parker, Founder of the Clean AI Initiative. “We’re excited by the potential for cleanAI to make a significant contribution to bending the decarbonization curve and accelerating the clean economy transition.”

Key findings:

  • AI has significant potential to enable a clean economy in areas like materials creation and discovery, forecasting, and advanced modeling. Examples include AI for chemicals and catalyst discovery (Chemify, EnginZyme, H2U), or AI for ingredients and protein formulations (Boost Biomes, NotCo, Enko Chem).
  • Differentiated business models and data strategies will be key to value creation and impact. One example is Rhizome’s ML system that can use historical and infrastructure data for hazard prediction and prepare investment plans for utilities to navigate risks.
  • AI is already enhancing R&D for high-impact technologies. Companies using AI to analyze R&D pathways and to iterate approaches based on results (take bioengineering innovator Twig) are able to accelerate their path to commercialization. Companies that use AI in the R&D process to determine optimal product composition are finding opportunities to offer custom products to customers (See H2U – using a proprietary catalyst discovery engine to design electrolyzers specific to customer needs).
  • C-Suite and operational champions with domain expertise and the willingness to test new systems will be critical to scaling market adoption. Other challenges include sparce or sensitive data for which data sharing standards should be developed, skills shortages which can be addressed by developing academic collaborations and upskilling, and the overarching influence of Generative AI for which differentiation needs to be clearly defined and articulated.
  • Connecting a fragmented ecosystem and increasing public policy support will further accelerate AI’s positive clean economy impact. Incumbents like Nvidia, Google, and IBM are collaborating with AI-enabled cleantech innovators to develop new solutions, while governments are investing in AI research and development.

Register for our complimentary webinar:

Cleaning Up With AI: AI Impact on Cleantech Innovation on March 26th at 11:00 EST.

A date for your calendars:

The Clean AI Initiative will convene this ecosystem with the world’s first CleanAI Summit to be hosted on June 17th, in Toronto.  Email for further details. 

About Cleantech Group

Cleantech® Group is a research-driven company that helps corporates, public sector, investors and others, identify, assess, and engage with the innovative solutions and opportunities that are related to the world’s massive, and growing, environmental and climate challenges.​ Our insights and expertise are delivered to clients all over the world through our Research, Consulting, and Events.  We have been the leading authority on global cleantech innovation since 2002.​

About Clean AI Initiative

Clean AI Initiative has launched to accelerate the transition to net-zero through applied commercialization of smart digital technologies. Clean AI Initiative aims to convene the ecosystem, provide novel research and insights to members, steward commercialization through innovation catalyst programming, and support innovators in achieving global scale through a purpose-built co-investment vehicle. Clean AI Initiative is the first global hub dedicated to this space, and we invite you to join us. Learn more at