Last week, my colleague Reagan Bennet and I had the opportunity to attend ClimateTech 2022, MIT Technology Review’s annual conference on technology solutions for climate change, held on the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA. As the world looks to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions from 51 billion tons to zero, often referred to as “Net Zero,” top minds across startups, venture capital, the public sector and more are using next-generation tech to transition to clean energy systems while maintaining, if not improving, market competitiveness. Needless to say, ClimateTech was a timely and important event that brought leaders across multiple industries together for a common goal – fighting climate change.
One of the highlights for us was during the morning of the first day: Carmichael Roberts, a partner at Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), a V2 client, spoke in conversation with MIT Technology Review’s David Rotman. Founded by Bill Gates and backed by many of the world’s top business leaders, BEV is a purpose-built investment firm seeking to invest, launch and scale global, cutting-edge companies that will eliminate GHG emissions throughout the economy as soon as possible. Carmichael aptly discussed the breakthroughs necessary to get the world to Net Zero, how the BEV team invests in companies that turn green ideas into clean products, and the importance of policies that speed innovation from lab to market. It was an inspiring, visionary talk that set the stage for the rest of the conference.
The two-day conference was split into two tracks: “Energy Matters” and “Systems Change, Not Climate Change.” I found this to be a thoughtful approach and one that was further expanded upon by MIT Technology Review’s James Temple in his opening remarks kicking off the event.
The first challenge of energy is obvious but difficult. We not only need to create a new energy supply to replace fossil fuels, but we need to manage demand better to mitigate peak loads on the grid. While not in attendance, V2 clients Agilitas Energy and Uplight sit on the supply and demand sides of that equation and exemplify the types of solutions we need. Agilitas Energy is a leading renewables and energy storage company bringing more clean energy online. Uplight’s software solutions help energy providers reach their decarbonization goals while their customers save energy and lower costs. Both are critical as we work for a more sustainable energy future.
Our other client, Vantem, falls into the systems change bucket explored on the second day of ClimateTech. Climate change and its effects are interconnected problems. Consider the industry Vantem works within: housing. Everything from building materials, development and construction are important considerations when it comes to curbing emissions, but you must also deal with the effects of climate change. With extreme weather events like hurricanes and wildfires on the rise, homeowners are increasingly looking for resilient housing while using less energy to cool and heat their homes. Vantem’s prefabricated modular approach to construction is the most efficient, scalable way to build cost-effective, Net Zero-ready structures. It’s exciting to work with companies like these that aren’t intimidated by big, hairy problems and instead embrace finding the necessary solutions.
Just by looking at the industries in which these V2 clients sit, it’s clear that we have a long road ahead in dealing with everything the climate crisis impacts. But the energy in the climate tech space is contagious right now—no pun intended. You could almost feel the momentum reverberating off the walls within the ClimateTech event. We’ve reached a consensus about what needs to be done, and now it’s time to do it.
V2 plans to be there every step of the way, helping our climate tech clients establish awareness and credibility as they execute their missions. It’s exciting, meaningful work, and along with the rest of the V2 team, I am proud to be working alongside our ClimateTech clients on the road to Net Zero.