Fitzsimons - putting her money where her heart is
Former Green Party leader Jeanette Fitzsimons and her husband have invested in New Zealand clean-tech company CarbonScape.
CarbonScape has developed patented technology to produce low-emissions carbon products such as Green Coke (which can be used to replace greenhouse-gas-emitting coking coal in steelmaking), activated carbon (used for purifying food, air and water), chemicals and syngas.
The company uses microwave technology to short-circuit the natural carbon cycle, producing in minutes what it takes nature millions of years to do.
Fitzsimons decided to invest in CarbonScape earlier this year because she believes in putting your money where your heart is.
"It's exciting to be able to support really new, New Zealand-developed technology with the potential to replace significant amounts of coal internationally,” she says.
“Due diligence usually means being sure that they’re financially viable,” she said. “I’m not an expert on that. I did what I could, asked lots of questions, but what I was extremely thorough about was the environmental diligence.”
Fitzsimons travelled to CarbonScape’s Marlborough headquarters and spent time with chief technology officer Greg Connor, examining issues such as the energy efficiency of the process.
Steelmaking is responsible for about 7 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Ms Fitzsimons believes that substitution, recycling and increased efficiency can cut those emissions, but acknowledges that some new steel is going to be produced for the foreseeable future, and says that CarbonScape’s technology could significantly cut global emissions from steel-making.
The company has a conditional supply agreement to supply New Zealand Steel with 9000 tonnes of Green Coke for the Glenbrook steel mill. It also has a memorandum of understanding with New Zealand Steel’s parent company, BlueScope, providing technical support to take Green Coke to production scale.
CarbonScape is currently offering shares to the public through equity crowd-funding platform Snowball Effect. It had a target of $400,000, and has so far raised more than $500,000. The over-funding cap is $1.5 million.