Path to Zero
Path to Zero
2.14 - DOE’s Jigar Shah on Financing Clean Energy Projects
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The focus of this episode of Path to Zero is the U.S Department of Energy’s efforts to roll out billions of dollars in grants to stimulate the transition to a clean energy economy.

Tucker welcomes clean energy entrepreneur Jigar Shah, who the Biden Administration has tapped to lead the department’s Loan Program’s Office (LPO).

Jigar Shah is well known for bringing clean energy technologies to commercial scale as the founder of the pioneering solar firm SunEdison and the billion-dollar green infrastructure investor Generate Capital.

DOE Loan Programs Office

The Department of Energy’s more than $40 billion in loan guarantee authority will play an important role in the agency’s efforts to commercialize technologies to help meet the Biden administration’s aggressive decarbonization goals.

Over the past decade, LPO has closed more than $30 Billion in deals that has saved 60 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, manufactured 20 million fuel-efficient vehicles in the U.S., and created clean electricity to power 49,000 homes annually. Most notably, the DOE made a $465 million loan in 2010 to then upstart Tesla Motors.

Shah talks to Tucker about how decarbonization is a tremendous opportunity for the private sector and the role the loan programs office plays in unlocking technology.

Since being selected to lead the LPO in March, Shah has reached out to more than 200 CEOs of companies that he knew would be eligible for loan programs in areas like green hydrogen technology, carbon sequestration and storage, plastics recycling, electric vehicle manufacturing and battery technology.

Shah says the LPO wants every person who thinks they have a good idea that deserves funding to have a shot.

Energizing climate justice and virtual power plants

Tucker asks Shah about the LPO’s potential to both modernize the grid and benefit historically disenfranchised communities. He says virtual power plants offer an opportunity to advance grid-scale energy services while helping cities and communities upgrade energy infrastructure and cut energy costs. That could mean building solar with storage on low-income housing or affordably financing grid-responsive smart air conditioners or water heaters.

Shah says the technology exists to utilize all of these appliances together in one software package to be able to act like a virtual power plant when the grid needs to respond to weather events.

Role of Low Carbon Fuels

Tucker talks extensively with Shah about the role of low carbon fuels as a climate change solution. He points out how the $17 Billion in the DOE’s advanced technology vehicle manufacturing program is for all technologies that significantly reduce carbon emissions in the vehicle space. Shah cites an example of a company that modifies diesel engines to be able to burn ethanol.

“It’s important to realize that while electrification is interesting, there are lots of other technologies as well that are eligible for loans and they should be deployed to bring diverse solutions,” says Shah.

Shah also sees an opportunity for the propane, natural gas and heat pump industries to work together to eliminate fuel oil which has a direct impact on people’s lives being shorter.

Resources

DOE Loan Programs Office
Jigar Shah Bio
Politico: Biden’s climate all-stars: ‘The ambition is breathtaking’ — but so are the expectations
GreenTech Media: Jigar Shah Has $40 Billion. What Will He Do With It?
Bloomberg: U.S. DOE’s Jigar Shah on Clean Energy Investments