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Weekly News of 23rd of May

SK announces $195 bln investment for chips, batteries, bio through 2026


SK Group, South Korea’s second-biggest conglomerate after Samsung Group, will invest 247 trillion won ($195.24 billion) in the semiconductor, battery and biopharmaceutical sectors over the next five years, reports Reuters.

SK Group, whose affiliates include the world’s second-biggest memory chip maker SK Hynix, said more than half of the investment will go into semiconductors and materials and 179 trillion won will be invested in South Korea to help revitalise the economy.


Neumann-backed climate tech venture Flowcarbon raises $70 mln


Flowcarbon, a blockchain-enabled carbon credit trading platform backed by WeWork founder Adam Neumann, has raised $70 million in its first major funding round, reports Reuters.

The company aims to tap into the growing market for carbon credits companies buy to offset their greenhouse gas emissions as the world transitions to a low-carbon economy in the fight against climate change.

Despite increasing demand, the market has drawn criticism for being fractured, opaque, hard to access and with question marks over the quality of some credits.

To help fix this, Flowcarbon lets project developers sell their carbon credits through tokens, digital assets stored and traded using blockchain technology, allowing them to access cheaper funding and scale their projects more quickly. By “tokenising”, developers can access cheaper financing earlier in the life of their project by selling forward their credits.

Buyers, meanwhile, will have greater transparency over their holdings and a broader range of them can join in, including individuals, smaller companies and those in the crypto market.

Bundling credits helps liquidity and will allow for greater volumes to be traded than in a traditional over-the-counter way, thereby dispersing risk. All credits are pre-certifed before being made into tokens by groups including Verra, Gold Standard, Climate Action Reserve and the American Carbon Registry. Paying a 2% tokenisation fee through Flowcarbon also saves project developers money compared with the up to 30% cost of selling their credits in the traditional manner, through an offtake agreement negotiated by an intermediary.


Central African Republic to launch bitcoin investment platform


Central African Republic will launch the continent’s first legal cryptocurrency investment hub, reports Reuters.

Marred by decades of conflict, Central African Republic last month became the first country in Africa and only the second in the world to adopt bitcoin as an official currency.

The government has so far provided little detail on the logistics of its bitcoin vision.

The soon-to-be-launched “SANGO” crypto initiative has a website on which interested investors can sign up to a waiting list. There was no indication when the investment hub would be open or how it would operate.

Billionaire Steyer backs climate tech firm Regrow Ag


Billionaire Tom Steyer and investment partner Katie Hall have led the latest funding round for technology start-up Regrow Ag, which aims to help accelerate the shift to climate-friendly farming, reports Reuters.

Food and agriculture contributes 26% of the world’s total carbon emissions, Regrow says, and is a growing area of focus for companies as they look to reduce their own emissions by greening their supply chains.

To help fix the problem, Regrow, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, connects companies and others with farmers, who enroll in various programmes that pay them for adopting farming practices that reduce emissions, preserve soil quality and minimise use of chemicals.

Markets for carbon captured and stored in agricultural soils have struggled to scale up due to systemic problems with measuring their climate benefit and questions about the permanence of carbon captured by intensive row crop farming.

Global croplands and grasslands can capture and store the equivalent of up to 8.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide a year, according to a 2019 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Regrow’s technology platform allows farmers to establish a baseline for their carbon emissions and then estimate the likely savings by changing certain practices, such as by tilling the fields less or by introducing livestock to the farm.

After agreeing to make the changes, Regrow uses satellite imaging and remote sensing to check the emissions have been reduced, giving greater assurance to the buyers of the carbon credits that are created as a result.