Three Cairns Climate Fellows 2019

Click through the posts below to learn more about the experiences of the Three Cairns Climate Fellows. For more information about the fellowship, please click here.

Brookfield Renewable Energy Group
Team members: Lawson Curtis ’19

Brookfield Renewable Energy Group is a private equity firm associated with Brookfield Asset Management. Its portfolio consists of over 17,400 MW of capacity and 876 generating facilities in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. It is also an experienced owner, operator, and investor of global wind, solar, distributed generation, and storage facilities. Lawson Curtis ’19 worked to map the nascent business of storing electricity. This is viewed as a key to unlocking intermittent renewable energy on the grid. The project involved mapping the technology development, the projected business models, and the various players investing in the space today.

Community Energy
Team members: Angelica Crispino ’20, Jung Hyun Lee ’19, and Marek Slobodnik ’19

Angelica Crispino ’20, Jung Hyun Lee ’19, and Marek Slobodnik ’19 worked with Community Energy, a mission-driven clean energy project developer addressing climate change by deploying wind and solar in new markets at scale. Community Energy has been modeling the optimum mix of resources to meet 24-hour year-round electric load with 80 percent or greater carbon emissions reductions in the near term (10 years) within selected Regional Transmission Organizations in the Northeast. Using Community Energy and publicly available data, the team worked to build sub-models to calculate for a given portfolio of generation resources across the grid region: (1) the potential CO2 emissions, and (2) an estimate of transmission investment necessary to meet the load each hour of the year.

Enhanced Capital
Team members
: Karen Forster ’19 and Julia Reibelt ’19

Karen Forster ’19 and Julia Reibelt ’19 worked with Enhanced Capital, a national investment firm focused on making investments that further a public policy objective, to develop a business plan for entering the commercial PACE financing market. PACE is a national policy-initiated financing mechanism that enables low-cost, long-term funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation upgrades to properties. The business plan details the current market environment, including an overview of state legislation and competitive dynamics, and evaluates the securitization of PACE loans. The team derived recommendations as to how and where to enter to best leverage the firm’s expertise, finding commercial PACE to be a promising opportunity with attractive potential returns for Enhanced Capital.

Lightsmith Group
Team members: Matt Ale ’19, Daniel Gutierrez ’20, Greg Rives ’19, and Anjalika Singh ’19

Matt Ale ’19, Daniel Gutierrez ’20, Greg Rives ’19, and Anjalika Singh ’19 worked with The Lightsmith Group —a private equity fund focused on investing in climate resilience solutions—to help develop an investment thesis and identify relevant investment opportunities. The team worked with The Lightsmith Group to research and map out four primary industry subsectors: catastrophe risk modeling, agriculture analytics, geospatial analytics, and supply chain analytics. This helped the team identify key industry trends and value creation and climate risk mitigation opportunities within each subsector. Thereafter, the team identified a funnel of 50 to 100 possible investment targets across the various subsectors, simultaneously refining the investment and climate resilience thesis. Finally, after a detailed profile of promising targets for investment, the team conducted outreach to scope the opportunity associated with the identified companies. The team provided The Lightsmith Group with a refined investment thesis and a list of potential investment opportunities to explore within the assigned sectors.

Mosaic
Team members
: Sam Maxfield ’20, Anand Satchidanandam ’19, and Vikram Sridhar ’20

Mosaic is a technology-enabled home improvement lender based in the US, and the #1 finance provider for home solar. They provide solar and home improvement contractors with point-of sale financing solutions and affordable loan products to help their customers finance smart and sustainable home improvements. Sam Maxfield ’20, Anand Satchidanandam ’19, and Vikram Sridhar ’20 worked to identify markets that present the greatest opportunity for consumer clean / efficient energy adoption based on consumer (single-household or community) driven demand, strong promise of growth potential in consumer driven energy solutions, and minimum $5BN solar and / or energy efficiency purchases per year. Using that information, the team identified companies within said markets that have promising business models and are ideal candidates for partnerships, investment, or purchase opportunities.

Plentify
Team members
: Mukul Gupta ’19 and Rajat Gupta ’20

Plentify, a South Africa-based startup, has developed a smart water heater controller to address energy inefficiency in water heaters and shift peak energy consumption in the grid. Plentify wanted to explore the opportunities for entry in the US and international markets. Mukul Gupta ’19 and Rajat Gupta ’20 studied the potential for monetizing load shifting in the US and researched demand response programs and Time of Use (TOU) tariffs of US utilities. They also studied the competitive landscape of smart controllers, international standards on smart water heating, and the prevalence of microgrids as a potential channel for entry. Finally, a decision framework was developed to prioritize new markets for potential entry that will help Plentify in evaluating any new market for international expansion.

Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank
Team members: Kaitlin Butler ’19 and Mucka Gantumur ’19

The governor of Rhode Island released Resilient Rhody: The Statewide Climate Resilience Action Strategy that responds to changing weather and environmental conditions in Rhode Island caused by climate change, and proposes bold yet implementable actions to better prepare the state for these impacts. Kaitlin Butler ’19 and Mucka Gantumur ’19 worked closely with the chief resilience officer and the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank to create a benefit-cost analysis and innovative infrastructure financing recommendations for the Resilient Rhody portfolio. As a result, the wide range of projects can be prioritized and implemented based on both a standardized assessment model, as well as applicable unique financing models.

World Wildlife Fund
Team members: John Plaisted ’19 and Rob Zochowski ’19

Mozambique is on the cusp of major developmental change driven by the recent discovery of natural gas and oil resources. Plagued for decades by conflict and by high rates of poverty, the resources could dramatically alter the economic trajectory of the country at-large, with Mozambique becoming one of the leading exporters of liquefied natural gas globally. John Plaisted ’19 and Rob Zochowski ’19 focused on the environmental impacts spurned by the expected development in the northern town of Palma in Cabo Delgado. In particular, the extensive use of charcoal and firewood as a cooking fuel by over 96 percent of the population is a huge driver of deforestation and forest degradation, removing an estimated 15 x 106 tons of wood from the forest each year. Their report proposed an alternative outcome through the distribution and use of liquid petroleum gas (“LPG”) as an alternative cooking fuel. Leveraging proven tools such as “pay-as-you-go” and remote metering, mobile money, and micro-loans, it is possible to provide cost effective residential LPG distribution and cook stoves in a way that overcomes traditional challenges to LPG adoption. This report detailed the infrastructure and service requirements, financing needs, and policy frameworks required for an LPG business and provided steps for implementing a pilot program in Cabo Delgado. A successful pilot could be scaled nationally to support forest and watershed ecosystem services in other provinces.