As part of last week's 2020 New York Climate Week, Credit Suisse and Dynamo Energy Hub co-hosted an informative online panel in collaboration with IBM. The panel, titled Cleantech, Collaboration and Climate Action: Driving the Clean Energy Transition Through COVID-19, brought together industry leaders to discuss their experiences and insights on trends over the previous — very disruptive — six months.
Ted Michaels, head of renewables North America for Credit Suisse, explained that investor conviction on where the world is going has changed. For many years, investors wanted to see a quicker payback period, whereas now there is more willingness to stretch out the time horizon as strategic investors re-evaluate their base businesses and returns to accommodate the demand for ESG (environmental, social and governance) metrics. Despite COVID and the economic downturn, Michaels continues to see the wave of capital flowing into renewables and cleantech within private markets, and he does not expect this to subside anytime soon. In public markets, he emphasized the momentum of ESG and sustainability seen thus far this year.
Brad Gammons, global industry managing director for Energy, Environment & Utilities at IBM, discussed the value and opportunities associated with conducting lifecycle assessments as a means to fully understand the carbon reduction opportunities of clean technologies. He also talked about better evaluating cleantech's environmental, social and governance benefits throughout the supply chain, from sourcing to manufacturing, operations and disposal. Gammons emphasized the social aspect of ESGs by investing in local small and medium businesses and empowering them to adopt energy efficiency and clean technologies, thus enabling them to better manage their energy footprints and to build community and grid resiliency.
All the panelists agreed that collaboration across sectors is key in order to build back better. Gammons believes that building an ecosystem is more important than building incremental technology. Barbato acknowledged that in order to do this well, we need to break down silos and understand what the perspectives of others, saying, “This very disruptive time was almost something of a catalyst to challenge the status quo in order to enable shifts in aggregative vision." Her thoughts for the future: “Cleantech entrepreneurs and investors are going to be the winners in implementing better infrastructure.”
As a lead up to this event, Enbala CEO Bud Vos had the opportunity to sit down with Credit Suisse and Dynamo to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and the energy transition. He was selected as one of 12 innovative cleantech entrepreneurs featured in a report that accompanied the 2020 New York Climate Week panel. His interview is featured here, starting on page 14.
Kristin Barbato, co-founder of Dynamo Energy Hub, observed that everybody across the energy ecosystem has had to pivot and think differently. “One thing that really struck me over these six months, and across all the companies we have included in this report, was not just the resilience, but the optimism of these very innovative entrepreneurs. They haven’t waivered from their long-term vision... The optimism and the steadfastness to their vision is something I was really impressed and inspired by.”