At the Northeast Clean Energy Council’s (NECEC) latest Emerging Trends Series forum on July 11, 2018, leaders from the clean energy industry and the public sector convened to discuss the future of energy efficiency in the Northeast. As a sponsor of NECEC, Mintz Levin was proud to host this forum, which featured speakers from leading companies and organizations working to drive energy efficiency in the Northeast through new policy mechanisms and with innovative technologies and service models.
For all the publicity generated by the recent increase in value of Bitcoin, as well as the generally increasing awareness of the existence of blockchain technology, Greentech Media’s recent Blockchain in Energy Forum 2018 held in New York City demonstrated that the technology is incredibly young and all stakeholders—utilities, regulators, entrepreneurs, consumers and investors—are still struggling with the ultimate impact of distributed ledger systems. The promise of blockchain as a decentralized, verifiable and immutable database with the scalability to displace existing record-keeping systems is as of yet unfulfilled, but not for lack of effort. The wide variety of issues covered in the day’s panels demonstrate the fundamental debates stockholder are still having. The touchstone questions to which panelists came again and again were “What problem is this solution supposed to solve?” and “Why does blockchain solve it better than any other solution?” Definitive answers to both questions remain elusive.
Most expect blockchain technology to be the foundation of the future transactive energy grid in which power generated by distributed energy resources on a scale ranging residential rooftop solar to traditional generating stations is bought and sold in a marketplace, matching production with demand efficiently in real-time. Our traditional hub-and-spoke model of electrical generation and transmission is evolving to one of widely distributed generation. This new marketplace will require the settlement of an incredible number of transactions every second. Some estimates have pegged the minimum rate of transactions to be settled for a country such as Germany at 260,000 per second in this future grid. As a means of comparison, the blockchain behind the cryptocurrency Bitcoin can only process 5 transactions per second – that of Ethereum, another well-known cryptocurrency, can handle approximately 15 transactions per second. For the transactive grid to come to fruition, much progress remains to be made.
Efforts are underway. The Energy Web Foundation, an off-shoot of The Rocky Mountain Institute, the nonprofit energy research and consulting group, has begun developing its own blockchain engineered specifically for use within the energy space named the Energy Web Platform. Presently even this best attempt at an energy-specific blockchain can handle only 750 transactions per second. Further technical issues abound. Governance and best practices concerning the protocols pursuant to which major changes to the structure of the blockchain are implemented remain a topic of hot debate, as do the measures of verifying transactions on the blockchain. With basic issues such as these still in flux, it is not surprising that a real world manifestation of a fully-functioning blockchain application has remained elusive in the energy industry.
The Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC), the nation’s foremost clean energy advocacy group, recognized our own Tom Burton as one of eight clean energy industry leaders at NECEC’s 10th Annual Green Tie Gala on October 26 in Boston. Tom and the seven other awardees received special “Decade of Influence” Green Tie Gala Awards for their work advancing the clean energy economy over the past decade. Joining Tom in receiving this esteemed honor:
- Alicia Barton, President and CEO, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
- Ian Bowles, Co-Founder and Managing Director, WindSail Capital Group
- Steve Cowell, President, E4TheFuture
- Tim Healy, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, EnerNOC
- Emily Reichert, CEO, Greentown Labs
- George P. Sakellaris, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ameresco
- Mitch Tyson, Tyson Associates, NECEC Board Chair
We are proud to have served as a sponsor for this event, which was comprised of 400+ attendees. We congratulate Tom and the seven other clean energy trailblazers on this wonderful accomplishment!
On July 19-20, 2017, Big Path Capital hosted its 9th annual Impact Capitalism Summit in Nantucket. Mintz Levin is has been proud to serve as a sponsor of the event for the past three years. The Impact Capitalism Summit is the largest convening of investors focused on maximizing impact and maximizing return. This year’s Summit focused on the future of impact investing as the new mainstream. Our own Tom Burton moderated a panel on the power of impact investing as it relates to climate change, highlighting its potential to engage broader, bipartisan engagement of actors across industries.
Mintz Levin is thrilled to serve as the exclusive legal mentor for Hult Prize finalists and host of the annual Hult Prize Welcome Reception for the third consecutive year.
The Hult Prize Foundation is a start-up accelerator and enabler for budding young social entrepreneurs emerging from the world’s universities. Named as one of the top five ideas changing the world by President Bill Clinton and TIME Magazine, the annual competition for the Hult Prize aims to identify and launch the most compelling social business ideas—start-up enterprises that tackle grave issues faced by billions of people.
On June 20, Mintz Levin and ML Strategies were thrilled to host Gina McCarthy, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator under President Obama. McCarthy was the featured speaker at the Alliance for Business Leadership “Progressive Power Hour” held in our Boston office. During the course of the hour, McCarthy shared her optimism for the environmental progress state and local governments can make and emphasized the role businesses can play in serving the public good. To learn more about the event, read on!
Upcoming Event: Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Speaks at Mintz Levin
Mintz Levin and ML Strategies are thrilled to be hosting Gina McCarthy, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator under President Obama, in our Boston office on June 20. McCarthy will be the featured speaker at the Alliance for Business Leadership “Progressive Power Hour” from 6:00 – 7:00 pm.
With the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, questions are swirling about what this means for the environment, the economy, and our standing in the world. Alongside her four years as EPA Administrator, McCarthy has held lead environmental roles as a public official in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Boston native has served as an environmental advisor to five Massachusetts governors. Her unique perspective will bring valuable insight into what can and should be done at the state level over the next few years.
We look forward to hosting McCarthy and our guests for what is sure to be an engaging conversation!
From April 26th-28th, San Francisco hosted the 2017 Ceres Conference. Ceres is a non-profit organization advocating for sustainability leadership. The annual conference brings together more than 600 investor and company leaders and advocates who are catalyzing the biggest breakthroughs on sustainability.
This year’s jam-packed agenda spanned a variety of topics surrounding the energy industry, but two key themes emerged: (1) that there is a growing need for standardized data to measure the impact of investments made in energy, and (2) that sustainable energy is playing an increasingly central role in the investment decisions for stakeholders across sectors and across the political landscape – in other words, the push for clean energy isn’t going anywhere. Continue Reading Recap: The 2017 Ceres Conference on Sustainability
Tom Burton, Member of the firm’s Corporate & Securities Section and Founder and Chair of the firm’s Energy Technology Practice, will publish bi-weekly installments providing key takeaways from the four sections of AEE’s webinar including: Industry Growth; Advanced Energy Jobs; Growth Trends; and Policy. This is the fifth and final installment of the series. Click to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
The final AEE webinar topic highlighted the important role policy plays in driving the advanced energy market. Panelist Malcolm Woolf noted that President Trump’s recent Executive Order overturning the Clean Power Plan conveys how policy can affect the market. While market forces are on the side of advanced energy, there are several policy levers that AEE believes will be significant drivers to future growth. These include:
- opening wholesale markets to the energy industry;
- meeting corporate demand for advanced energy;
- continued evolution of the utility business model;
- bipartisan opportunities at the state level.
To listen to the full webinar, click here.
Tom Burton, Member of the firm’s Corporate & Securities Section and Founder and Chair of the firm’s Energy Technology Practice, will publish bi-weekly installments providing key takeaways from the four sections of AEE’s webinar including: Industry Growth; Advanced Energy Jobs; Growth Trends; and Policy. This is the fourth installment of the series. Click to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
Throughout AEE’s webinar, panelists broke down the trends within growth of the advanced energy markets and presented the key takeaways from the AEE report. Most notably, building efficiency is the largest segment of advanced energy revenue in the U.S., reaching almost $70 billion in 2016. This represents more than a third of advanced energy in the U.S., and is up 64% since 2011. Panelist Kevin Self noted that buildings consume about 41% of U.S. energy, so energy efficiency remains the most cost effective way to control spending. Other notable growth trends include:
- Wind has remained steady, producing roughly $14 billion in revenues in both 2015 and 2016. This a good pattern compared to earlier fluctuations due to uncertainty with production tax credits. The extension and renewal of this tax credit creates the ability for the wind industry to develop at a steadier place.
- Solar continues to boom, reaching $25 billion in U.S. revenue last year—up 30% since 2015 and tripling since 2011. Panelist Paul Kaleta emphasized that solar energy is firmly at the forefront of energy transformation in the U.S., and is now economically competitive with fossil fuels.
- Energy storage is up 54% in 2016, at nearly half a million dollars in revenue.
- Electric vehicles also exhibited strong growth at 48%, with U.S. Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) revenue at $7.8 billion in 2016. Panelist Zachary Kahn also advised that we can expect to see the use of electric buses grow exponentially in the U.S. over the next 5-10 years.