Panel 3 Highlights: Sustainability & Innovation Forum

Keep reading to discover key takeaways from Panel 3: Energy & Transportation: Powering Viable Alternatives in Land, Sea and Air.

1)   Renewable Energy: The Cheapest Thing in Town

"“The last several years in particular, “corporate” America realizes that their constituents, their shareholders, their employees, and their customers are really demanding that they take notice of their carbon emissions, their sustainability goals. I'm heartened as an attorney to see, despite lack of enthusiasm in Washington. It's really “corporate” America doing the drive together with the state governments. And right here in New York, our governor has come out with very high standards of 50% renewable energy by 2030. Offshore is coming raring to go in New York and New Jersey. But that's really just the precursor of things to come.”. – Skip Rankin, Partner at Baker McKenzie

“EDF is a Global developer of renewable energy projects, solar and wind around the world. The demand story has been very interesting and exciting in the past few years as we’ve gone from a world driven by state mandates and federal incentives, where now it’s being driven by economics. Today, those same utilities are doing so because renewable energy is now the cheapest thing in town. Tremendous change over the past 5-6 years. We see a lot of interesting and growing sources of demand that we’re investing in more and more. We’re investing in offshore wind. We’re investing a lot in investment technology. There’s more and more demand for renewable energy which is easy to control, given its nature. Now, there’s no consultant or expert in the world doesn’t think we shouldn’t build a renewable energy.” – Nate McMurry, Vice President, Divestiture & Portfolio Strategy, EDF Renewables. 

2)   Transportation – Taking Cars Off the Roads  

“For the first time since the 1970s, the emissions from the transportation sector transpose those from the energy sector. Since the car became mainstream, this has been the sole factor for how people choose to get around. You either rely on public transportation or if you can afford it you have a car. As ridesharing has come online in the past decade, we’re able to make the entire transportation ecosystem work. Ridesharing plugs in the gaps. Because we are enabling people to live car free, you’re more likely to bike, walk or scooters, etc This has a tremendous impact on sustainability. But it’s not necessarily enough. We need to make the transition from relying on gasoline to shifting towards electric transportation. That has been really difficult to do under the personal ownership model, for a number of reasons and historic barriers: high upfront cost of electric vehicles, unfamiliarity of the technology, lack of reliability of the infrastructure, how people charge…etc.  Ridesharing can create a lot of synergies with electrification. It’s a really exciting time in the transportation space.” – Corey Ershow, Policy Manager, Lyft

“We (GoKid) call ourselves the friendly face of the global mobility solution that is happening. The reality is families are a big part of this. A lot of people have kids and these kids need to get to school. Half the kids in American no longer have buses. This means kids are driven to school every day, causing 1/3 of morning traffic. Over 33 million have after-school activities. That’s an additional huge amount of driving and lost productivity time. We are focusing on helping these parents. It makes me hopeful that we can take millions of rides off the street.” - Stephanie Lemcke, CEO & Founder, GoKid

3)   Benefits of Investment & Innovation

“We actually are an investment group investing in early stage companies. And we're focused on clean energy, 100% in early stage. We see a lot of supply on our side. We see a lot of innovators coming up with solutions, and we try to figure out which ones make sense: From energy generation, energy efficiency, transportation, smart buildings, etc. There are needs all over the place. New York is an amazing place for innovation in cleantech. There's a support system.” – Jean-Noel Poirier, Executive Managing Director, Clean Energy Venture Group

“Corporate customers see the benefit in two areas. I'd put one side in marketing, branding and governance and the other is in costs. On the marketing, branding and governance, some shareholders are increasingly demanding that companies  have a climate change strategy, and that they address their renewable energy goals, they address their climate change, risk and mitigation plans, and disclose how exposed they are and how they're going to mitigate these things. There's value and in being able to say that they're 100%, renewable. And then on the cost side, we really blow people away sometimes who have not done a renewable energy procurement before for a large scale and noble energy purchase. And the exciting thing for us is we're really just talking about the tip, tip of the iceberg. We've done large scale renewable energy deals with companies like Microsoft and Google, who've signed up to buy energy for us. There's a huge, huge amount of growth and runway with companies, once they realize that these benefits are real.”- Nate McMurry, Vice President, Divestiture & Portfolio Strategy, EDF Renewables

Many thanks to all of our panelists, Skip Rankin, Nate McMurry, Stephanie Lemcke, Corey Ershow, Jean-Noel Poirier and Moderator Emily Chasan.