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Energy Transition Investment Trends – A lookahead to 2023

Tuesday, January 31st 2023

The Energy Transition Investment Trends event brought together energy thought leaders in our new San Francisco hub! The event funneled in attendees from the BloombergNEF summit, arriving at Dynamo with the energy transition already at the forefront of their minds. Benjamin Kafri, Global Head of Client Relations at BloombergNEF grabbed the attention of the room with remarks about the summit and announced the launch of BloombergNEF’s annual publication on tech and innovation, which will be published later on this year. Benji thanked Dynamo for the partnership, and the opportunity to connect, before introducing Meade.  

Meade Harris, Co-Founder and CEO at Dynamo Energy Hub talked to the crowd about the purpose of Dynamo: “Dynamo is a global network which facilitates the energy transition by bringing people together – people like all of you – from traditional energy companies to innovative climate techs and leading investors. Gry Rabe Henriksen, Consul General of the Royal Norwegian Consulate General joined Meade and Benjamin on stage to discuss Norway’s energy trends, specifically as they relate to those of California, explaining the partnership between the consulate and Dynamo. Norway is a champion of offshore wind, with companies with Equinor (a fellow Dynamo member) tremendously aiding in the transition from oil and gas, to renewables. Norway is also a leader in Electric Vehicle technologies and implementation, with more than 80% of new vehicles bought being electric. The relevance of Norway’s energy trends were extremely useful in discussion as they brough another perspective, and perhaps a more developed one, on the energy transition.  

The panel began with moderator Katherine Blunt, Energy reporter at the Wall Street Journal, who asked Albert Cheung, Head of Global Analysis at BloombergNEF, what trends we should be watching, and to comment on the Energy Transition Investments Trend report from the week prior. Albert shared that over the past year, BloombergNEF invested 1.1 trillion dollars into the energy transition. He further explained that all sectors hit a new record, except for Nuclear which remained relatively the same. Additionally, another 1.1 trillion dollars were invested into fossil fuels. Albert explained the importance of this moment in which the fossil fuel investments and renewable energy investments are the same, as investments in the energy transition will only continue to grow exponentially.  

Katherine turned to Nancy Pfund, Founder and Managing Partner at DBL Partners, to hear her perspective on where these investments are going. Nancy explained that there is a robust array of technologies for investment beyond what is considered exciting, or topic of conversation, at the moment. She continued by delving into topics less explored, such as battery technologies, alternative mining strategies and technologies, fertilizer decarbonization strategies, and wildfire reduction technologies. Nancy shared that just the fires in California in 2020 alone cancelled out all the EV, solar, and energy storage development and progress done to reduce carbon emissions over the past 15 years. Such areas are overlooked, and as a result are stuck with outdated technology. Nancy urged the crowd to keep these carbon neutral and energy setbacks in mind.  

Mark Caine, Senior Lead, Carbon-Free Energy at Google, spoke on how corporate procurement plays a large role in carbon reduction, and how Google’s focus has changed over the past couple of years. Google’s first power purchase agreement was in 2010, jump starting investments in clean energy. In 2017, Google set and reached their goal to match their energy consumption purchases of clean energy on an annual basis. Most recently in 2020, realizing these efforts were still not enough, they set out to dig into what usage looked like at their sites, setting a new goal of meeting 100% of their energy demands with locally sourced, carbon free, energy 24 hours a day. Since then, Google has been working on achieving this goal through the use of carbon free energy from a mix of sources, and newer carbon free technologies such as geothermal.  

Katherine asked Rich Voorberg, President, at Siemens Energy what is going to be necessary, especially on the industrial technology side, to get us where we need to go with the energy transition. Rich talked about Hydrogen and the incredible power supply that it is, and how it will continue to change energy transition trends. Rich talked about the importance of scale, and how they are implementing that with their electrolizer made to a large scale. That being said, Rich emphasized that it is not going to be one of these markets that will solely be responsible for progress; however, it needs to be a combination of sources to achieve sustainability, reliability, and affordability.  

Katherine went back around the horn for a second round of questions, starting with asking Albert what some of the impeding roadblocks are for growth. Albert discussed the effects of bottlenecking, and the need to quicken planning and permitting, as well as improving civilian understanding of these technologies.  

Nancy talked about similar topic of supply chain issues and where she has seen the greatest effect in mitigating these challenges. Developing different ways to get rare earth minerals has been the start, but the more difficult issues at hand are these bottleneck effects. With recent legislation and political capital, there is a shift away from fossil fuels. Nancy explained that there is still the need to use Natural Gas and other less “clean” sources in order to move forward with progress and to keep energy prices low.  

  Katherine asked Mark how the supply chain has driven up the cost of energy, and how he is navigating that. Mark commented that it is harder to find deals; it is more expensive. With these challenges, there has been a shift to focus on energy efficiency. This entails finding times and places where clean energy is more readily available, shifting those loads and making them more flexible.   

Rich and Katherine ended the panel by talking about the issue of transmission and its effects. Rich talked about the need to connect green energy to the source with efficient technologies, such as high-voltage direct current. This area of technology is growing, especially as we continue to develop great energy sources that are further away from where it is needed (such as offshore wind). The key to solving this problem is finding engineers that are highly skilled in just that.  

The speakers finished up the discussion with a quick Q&A before cocktails and bites. Folks gathered to talk about the interesting topics covered by the panelists, and to connect with one another. Dynamo had such a great time hosting the nearly 100 attendees, and building this network in the new San Francisco space, over great conversation, and food! We can’t wait to continue this conversation as it grows and becomes even more pertinent.  



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