In the early 1990s, people started becoming aware of a major flaw in the trajectory of conventional farming, and how current practices would no longer be sustainable in the decades to come. Three of the more significant factors were:
Agricultural runoff - waste water from farms that is typically full of residue from pesticides and herbicides as well as other waste - is one of the largest pollutants of oceans. The runoff from the farms makes its way to the nearest water-body, which makes its way to rivers which eventually coalesce into the ocean. This has a devastating effect on marine life creating several "dead-zones".
All the current farm land in the world occupies an aggregate area the size of South America. This is the farm land required to feed 7 billion people.
By 2050, the world will have close to 10 billion people and additional farm land the size of Brazil will be required to feed the entire population. That amount of land is simply not available given increasing urbanization and industrialization.
One potential solution is urban farming (loosely interchanged with "vertical farming" by some in the industry) using Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). It is a combination of engineering and horticultural techniques used to optimize crop yield, quality and efficiency, typically done in an enclosed space such as a greenhouse or building. The crops are usually grown in soil-less vertical stacks, with minimal-to-no usage of fertilizers and pesticides and with LEDs used as a substitute for sunlight. By some estimates, these techniques can increase crop yields by an order of magnitude while reducing water usage by 95% when compared to conventional farming.
The other major added benefit of urban farming is the reduction of "food-miles" for the produce and therefore a reduced carbon-footprint for the consumer. As a example, a vast majority of the salad greens consumed in New York City are grown in California. If the farms growing these are actually in Brooklyn, the distance the food travels changes from 3000 miles to about 3. This will not only signify a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but also increase the freshness of food on consumers' plates.
This is one of the most exciting asset classes in sustainability for investors and aspiring urban farmers alike and that is underscored by a 2010 study by the New York City Council that found an annual unmet demand in excess of $600 Million for local produce in the city.
Green Millennum has partnered with several exciting urban agriculture and agtech start-ups, as well as a broad base of impact investors to facilitate venture capital and project finance investments in the space.
Large parts of the world, especially emerging markets, are facing the ‘perfect storm’ for solar photovoltaic adoption over the next decade. Some of the factors contributing to this are the falling costs of solar panels, increased government enthusiasm and focus on solar energy, and an acute power deficit from conventional sources.
With solar power fast approaching grid-parity, the chief obstacle to immediate wide-spread adoption is the cost of capital to set up a plant. High interest rate environments in emerging markets are preventing many eligible operators from entering the market and those who are willing to bear the cost initially, do not always scale plants to their optimal capacity due to high debt servicing costs.
Green Millennium has structured over $200 Million in solar energy projects in multiple states in India as part of a novel public-private-partnership model. We are constantly looking for new opportunities and are training our focus on larger projects in India as well as other emerging markets.
Biomass, in the context of renewable energy, typically refers to plant or animal based material that cannot be used as feed and instead can be converted into fuel or electricity. Food waste from restaurants or retailers is one source of biomass. Animal waste and effluent from farms is another large source. Untreated, this biomass, especially the effluent from animal farms, is a potent source of methane, one of the most harmful greenhouse gases.
When treated in an anerobic digester, the metane can be easily converted to bio-fuel and bio-energy, which presents a very convenient renewable energy solution.
Green Millennium is actively working with multiple states in the US, as well as large anerobic digester plant operators to structure projects for bio-energy generation. Investors are typically attracted to the considerable credit-enhancement present in the structures in the form of renewable energy credits or RECs that are generated as a result of such operations.
U.S. healthcare spending is currently $2.6 trillion per annum and is projected to grow to $4.64 trillion by 2020 (Nearly 20% of GDP). Access to debt financing is essential to the viability of U.S. hospitals and health systems; yet, despite the high-quality payment stream, most systems have limited access to capital, few borrowing options, pay a high cost of capital, and are afforded little flexibility. Medicare reimbursements, which are contractual obligations of the U.S. Government, currently total $600 billion per year and are projected to grow to $1 trillion by 2021.
Healtcare Technology (HIT) is another major asset-class that has emerged in the last decade with integrated goals of improving healtcare delivery, outcomes and revenue cycle management.
Green Millennium is working with cutting edge HIT and Healthcare FinTech start-ups with a disruptive focus on transparency, accessibility and affordability for patients, providers and insurers alike.