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January 5, 2024
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“5 Game Over: The Failed Cleantech Startups of 2024”


  • Many VC-funded cleantech startups have failed
  • Lessons can be learned from these failures
  • Startups like Hyperloop One, Bird, Zinc 8 Energy Solutions, Volta Trucks, and Sunfolding all went bankrupt or shut down in late 2023

Canary Media explores the failures of several venture-capital-funded cleantech startups that went bankrupt or shut down in late 2023. These failures provide valuable lessons for investors and the industry as a whole. Here are five key examples:

Hyperloop One

Hyperloop One, a startup that aimed to revolutionize transportation by zipping people and freight through vacuum tubes, failed to find a customer and is now selling off its assets and laying off its staff. The company raised over $450 million from investors but was unable to make its vision a reality. The failure of Hyperloop One highlights the challenges of dramatically changing transportation systems.


Bird, a shared electric scooter startup, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after experiencing financial difficulties. The company, once valued at $2 billion, struggled after going public through a special-purpose-acquisition-company merger. Bird’s bankruptcy demonstrates the risks of depending on VC-funded transportation startups to solve mobility problems.

Zinc 8 Energy Solutions

Zinc 8 Energy Solutions, a flow-battery startup, has struggled to survive after losing its CEO and cutting most of its staff. The company, which never generated any revenue, has a market capitalization of $1.4 million and a flatlining stock price. This failure highlights the importance of due diligence and careful evaluation of investments.

Volta Trucks

Volta Trucks, a Swedish electric-truck builder, filed for bankruptcy due to difficulties in procuring batteries and the bankruptcy of a key supplier. The company raised over $500 million and had a large order book, but its financial and manufacturing woes led to its downfall. The failures of Volta Trucks and other EV startups indicate the challenges of entering the competitive electric vehicle market.


Sunfolding, a solar startup known for its innovative tracker design, closed down its operations due to manufacturing troubles and a lack of solar-project experience. The company’s pneumatic tracker, which used air pressure to shift solar panels, struggled to gain traction in the market. This failure emphasizes the cautiousness of solar developers and project financiers when adopting new hardware solutions.

The failures of these cleantech startups serve as cautionary tales for investors and entrepreneurs in the industry. It’s essential to learn from these examples to make more informed decisions and navigate the challenges of the cleantech sector.

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