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The Oracle of Cleantech Speaks…. You Might Want to listen - Scaling Clean Ep. 6

3 min. read

We describe our podcast as “Scaling Clean, the podcast for clean economy CEOs, investors and the people who advise them.” Ken Locklin is the first we’ve had on the show from the last category. And there’s a reason for that: Ken is the cleantech oracle you probably haven’t heard of because he has the enviable combination of foresight and humility.  

Ken wouldn’t boast about himself like I do about him.  

For over three decades, Ken’s honed his ability to observe the major developments within multiple clean economy sectors, and then distill the trends for the rest of us. He’s so good at it, that while serving as Impax Asset Management’s North American Director, he co-wrote a Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) 2016 report, “Mapping the Gap: The Road from Paris.”  

In clean economy, BNEF reports are the closest thing we have to religious scripture, and it’s fair to describe Ken as belonging to a small field of elite advisors and trend spotters for clean economy sectors. I had the privilege of talking with him recently, and the conversation yielded one great soundbite after another. Like this, on the ideal CEO background:  

We’re at a stage in the market that it’s still early enough to accommodate pioneers and reward them, but it’s late enough in the development of clean energy that we need the expertise from very established executives and world-class players.” 

If your into cleantech predictions, then I’ve got your guy. Skim on, then listen to the episode.  

  • 3:46 – Qualities Ken’s found the best clean economy CEOs possess. 
  • 5:25 – The significant differences in leading a clean economy company vs. a company in more mature industries – including the ability to “read the wind.”  
  • 9:50 – Clean economy companies are creating new sectors, not new industries. That’s an important difference, because CEOs must “play both offense and defense.”  
  • 11:50 – How the backgrounds of CEOs have changed in the last 25 years, and why the ideal CEOs need several “mid-point settings” in their respective backgrounds. 
  • 15:37 – The biggest change of the next 5 years in clean economy will be drops in storage costs.   
  • 20:07 – Transmission is a huge problem. It can be solved with existing technologies and companies, and there’s more money to finance deals than is needed to build the transmission. But the policy environment isn’t there right now to enable that buildout.  
  • 22:43 – Policy has been mostly a non-factor in clean economy’s recent scaling. But that has to change to meet IPCC pollution reduction goals.  
  • 26:36 – In fact, the #1 task for clean economy sectors is improving its ability to secure pro-sustainability policies from elected officials.  

Listen to the newest episode on Apple, Spotify, Radio Public, Amazon Music, iHeart, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.