Venture Investment opportunities in heating decarbonization

Client Organization: 
Energy Impact Partners
Project Location : 
New York, NY, USA
Summary of Project Idea: 

Goals & Objectives:

Energy Impact Partners (EIP) is the world’s largest strategic venture investment firm focused exclusively on energy. We have raised a $500 million fund targeting early-to-mid stage equity investments in innovative companies who will impact the future of the electric and gas utility industry. Our limited partners – the investors in the fund – are a global coalition of utilities seeking to increase the efficiency, sustainability, and value of their industry. For this master’s project, our goal is to gain a deep level of insight into the emerging venture investment opportunities in a particular sector relevant to our limited partners: the decarbonization of space heating. We hope to understand the near-term and longer-term forces and trends shaping this market, map out the landscape of solution providers (both incumbent and ‘investable’), and develop a strategic roadmap for utility investments in this space.

Theoretical Justification, Social Benefit, or Significance:

Space heating is an important global contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and has historically been a difficult source of emissions to address. EIP is ready to invest capital in innovative solutions today, and our partners are ready to deploy them, if we find solutions that can cost-effectively address the problem. We are looking for technology that can meaningfully tackle heating-related emissions, and to learn whether our partners can use this technology value to create value for customers, shareholders, and society.

Specific Activities & Duration:

Students will be asked to perform both qualitative primary research (lots of interviews), review relevant academic and industry research, and build some simple quantitative models to analyze the scale and scope of the opportunity for investment in the decarbonization of heating. They will be asked to think creatively and analytically to develop a framework for thinking about the market, and eventually advise the EIP team on opportunities.

Integrative Approach:

The project will need multidisciplinary students to tackle the nuances and subtleties of market research. More quantitatively-oriented students can help build models to assess the technical and economic viability of various approaches to heating decarbonization. Students interested in business and marketing are needed to develop analytical frameworks to segment the opportunity. Students interested in behavioral science are needed to help think about how the ‘end-consumer’ – meaning households and businesses – will react to various technology options. Lastly, we need systems thinkers to put this market in global context and help us understand whether global policy and economic trends will be favorable to growth.

SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Behavior, Education, and Communication
Sustainable Systems
Role for each program area: 

Environmental Policy & Planning: Survey and analyze how policies around the world (including carbon policies) will impact the opportunity for various heating decarbonization strategies and technology; help develop policy scenarios for market forecasting

Behavior, Education, and Communication: Assess research on consumer behavior and preferences around heating, segment consumers, help develop consumer adoption models and pathways

Sustainable Systems: Analyze the technical potential, economic viability, and resource impacts of various heating decarbonization strategies

Professional Career Development Benefits: 

Financial / economic modeling

Qualitative research interviewing

Competitive strategic analysis

Market forecasting and modeling

Concise presentation of information for business decision making

Funding Sources: 

Funding for at least one trip to New York City to meet the EIP team, and share results of the project; otherwise no direct funding anticipated

Identify expected products/deliverables: 

Deliverables:

Powerpoint format report on the sector and presentation to EIP investment council (EIP deal teams and limited partner representatives from 15 electric and gas utilities)

Implementation:

EIP will use information provided by this effort to identify relevant investment opportunities and potentially put millions of dollars of capital to work. We will not share the output beyond our investment council and utility partners.

Contact full name: 
Andy Lubershane
Job title: 
Director of Research
City: 
South Portland
State or Country: 
ME
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Lauren Bigelow
Contact Phone: 
207 805 1988
Advisor Confirmed: 
yes
Contact information: 
SNRE alum
Staff member of a potential client organization
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Jonathan Lorentzen
  • Harrison Rogers
  • Fandi Shen
  • Shidong Zhang
Project Status: 
In Progress