Dynamo Energy Transition Summit 2023Wednesday, September 27th 2023
During the biggest Climate event of the year, Dynamo hosted its annual Energy Transition Summit in New York City. Held during Climate Week, the half-day summit brought together executives from energy and finance, along with elected leaders from around the world. We were fortunate to have the Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre, participate in our Climate Week event for the second year in a row.
Meade Harris, Co-Founder & CEO of Dynamo opened the event alongside Amy Harder, Executive Editor at Cipher News, and the Master of Ceremonies for the summit.
The Summit kicked off with a presentation from David Crane, the Under Secretary for Infrastructure, at the US Department of Energy who highlighted the hundreds of billions of dollars that will be awarded by the DOE to invest in hydrogen energy, carbon capture, and more innovative technologies to advance the energy transition. With an added emphasis from the Biden administration on achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emission goals across the US economy by 2050, Crane is adamant that the department will “pull every lever that we have” to scale new technologies including hydrogen which he believes has the “potential to be the primary solution to the hardest-to-abate [industries].” 
Accelerating US Clean Power Development Panel
The first session of the day focused on Accelerating US Clean Power Development, with an emphasis on the steps necessary to fully transition towards renewable energy. The panel featured Dynamo members from all sides of the energy transition including:
- Lynda Clemmons, Vice President, Sustainable Products and Innovation at NRG Energy
- David Hardy, Group Executive Vice President & CEO Americas at Ørsted
- William Hazelip, President, US Northeast at National Grid Ventures
- Molly Smith Morris, President, Renewables America at Equinor
- Richard Voorberg, President, North America at Siemens Energy
Moderated by the summit’s MC Amy Harder, Executive Editor at Cipher News, the panel began with a discussion on the urgent need for a swift transition to renewable energy sources. Panelists discussed key steps required to achieve this transition, including robust investments in renewal infrastructure, grid modernization, and policy support for clean energy initiatives. Collaboration emerged as a central theme, with experts stressing the importance of cooperation among government agencies, private sector players, and communities to overcome challenges and accelerate the shift towards sustainable and cleaner power sources. The panel emphasized that a united effort is essential to meet the nation’s clean energy goals and combat climate change effectively—a theme that carried throughout the day..
Oliver Metcalfe, Head of Wind Research, at BloombergNEF delivered a presentation on Wind’s Vital Role in the US Net Zero Future. In order to reduce emissions, installations must accelerate and require marginal abatement technologies to step up. However, the US must resolve interconnection and permitting constraints that have slowed wind’s growth for years.
The first Fireside Chat of the day took place between Alix Steel, Anchor at Bloomberg Commodities Edge and Nancy Pfund, Founder & Managing Partner at DBL Partners, and member of Dynamo’s Board of Advisors. Native New Yorker Alix Steel turned the conversation to the Canadian wildfire smoke that enveloped the New York skyline with an orange haze in June. The detrimental effects of wildfires extend to not only the loss of habitat and life, and air quality, but also to the progress that states have made over the last 15 years through renewable energy. Nancy gave a devastating statistic that “if wildfires were a country, they would rank #4 in emissions.” To combat wildfires, Nancy highlighted her portfolio company Rain, an unmanned autonomous software layer to helicopters that allows helicopters to have fire retardant in them. By placing these helicopters in high-risk areas stocked with sensors and weather data, they can get to fires in minutes.
The session broke out for a coffee break, sponsored by Bellwether, a low-carbon coffee brand committed to reducing the carbon footprint of coffee roasting.
Cleantech Innovation, Collaboration, and Climate Action Panel
Kristin Barbato, Co-Founder & President at Dynamo moderated the next panel and unveiled Dynamo’s fourth annual whitepaper in collaboration with UBS, titled Cleantech Innovation, Collaboration, and Climate Action. The panel included Emma Crystal, Chief Sustainability Officer at Credit Suisse as well as two of the featured cleantech and finance experts in the paper, Olivia Albrecht, Climate Finance Leader at Aspiration; and Laura Tamjärv, Director of Acquisitions at CleanCapital.
The group discussed the intersections of technology, finance, and policy, examining the current state of cleantechs and where the next opportunities lie. Olivia Albrecht pointed out the interconnectivity of the fields and how “you can’t innovate without finance. You can’t have finance come in without clear policy. Policy can’t do anything you people aren’t driving innovation.” The overlap of all three factors will define the next decade of all our work and we need to continue working together to achieve our united goal.
How AI is Reshaping the Climate Landscape Panel
Julie McLaughlin, Managing Director, Energy at Alvarez & Marsal moderated the next panel on How AI is Reshaping the Climate Landscape. The panel included Tom Burton, Member & Chair of Energy & Sustainability Practice at Mintz; Heather Redman, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Flying Fish Partners; and Michael Terrell, Senior Director for Climate at Google.
The development of AI has taken over recent news cycles, with lingering questions of privacy, efficiency, job displacement, policy, and more. When one first thinks of AI, generative AI like ChatGPT comes to mind. According to Heather Redman, “the energy world needs to be more aware of the creativity element of AI.” Rather than just generating social posts or emails, AI can generate new kinds of materials that can solve some of the problems facing the energy transition.
Julie shifted her attention to Michael, inquiring whether AI has made us more capable of addressing today’s climate challenges compared to 25 years ago when the Kyoto Protocol was initially signed. Michael views climate change “as a technology problem, not an emissions problem.” In AI, lies an opportunity to develop new and advanced technologies to combat climate change. At Google, they are seeing very promising signs of AI-backed technologies such as the Nest Thermostats, using AI to predict the production of wind farms, and gathering large data sets of flight path information to optimize around the creation of contrails.
At the intersection of AI and climate is the opportunity to fund and support cutting-edge technologies. AI is moving towards addressing big climate challenges and Heather Redman noted that they are seeing an increase in funding at an early stage from venture capitalist firms. Tom Burton emphasized that point and acknowledged how the market for AI and renewables is projected to reach $75 billion by 2030. The market growth is due to the gap and the need. Moving forward, Tom noted, “there is opportunity to engage in much more efficient management.”
Featured Fireside Chat with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre
The summit’s final content concluded with a fireside chat between the Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre, and Amy Harder, Executive Editor at Cipher News. The discussion marks the Prime Minister’s second annual appearance at the Dynamo Energy Transition Summit. Norway has become a pivotal country in our energy debate. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the country’s natural gas supplies have become essential for Europe’s ability to get off of Russian gas.
The Prime Minister insisted upon the importance of a successful transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. “Our aim is to really make the transition so that when we build offshore floating wind, we can draw on the engineers who built the offshore oil and gas platforms.”
Amy Harder referenced the growing criticism against carbon capture storage (CCS) and how the technologies could provide the oil and gas industry with a path to keep emitting. In response, the Prime Minister commented on the impossibility of reaching 2050 carbon goals without CCS. “If we can produce gas at absolutely low emissions and produce hydrogen with capture of CO2, I don’t have an objection to that.”
On the controversy surrounding the COP28 presidency, the Prime Minister addressed how he would rather have the oil producing countries “exposed and take responsibility and be watched by the entire world community rather than saying the oil producing nations of the gulf are outside. We need to bring them along.”
The fireside chat concluded with a discussion on the recent natural disasters ravaging the world from wildfires in Canada to horrifying floods in Libya. The Prime Minister noted how there is no country in the General Assembly Hall that does not have stories to tell about the growing weather effects of climate change. According to the Prime Minister, the disasters serve as extraordinary wake up calls for “what we have to achieve together.”
Closing Remarks from NYSERDA and Ørsted CEOs
To end the Summit, Doreen Harris, President & CEO at NYSERDA introduced reception keynote speaker, Mads Nipper, Group President & CEO at Ørsted. New York’s partnership with Ørsted is certainly helping New York “establish a leadership position in clean energy by bringing forward projects.” Ørsted is in the process of constructing New York’s first offshore wind farm which will be online later this year.
When facing the global issue of climate change, Mads explained, that “no industry, no politician, or no government can solve it themselves.” The solutions will require courage, and more importantly, they will take “a collective courage.”
He exclaimed that of course Ørsted did not invent the turbine but rather proved that that technology was more scalable than anybody had imagined possible. An entire industry, including the oil majors of the world, is following at a rapid pace. “That is why and when courage turns into a catalyst for growth.”
Thank you to all the attendees and to our incredible group of speakers who made our annual Energy Transition Summit event possible.
- Moore, Daniel. “US Weighs $1 Billion Hydrogen Demand Program to Boost Industry.” Bloomberg Law, Bloomgberg, 5 July 2023, news.bloomberglaw.com/environment-and-energy/us-weighs-1-billion-hydrogen-demand-program-to-boost-industry.
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