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SFI Seminar: First-of-a-Kind Climate Projects: Examples From the Field

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Event Details:

Join SFI’s monthly seminar on the third or fourth Thursday of the month to meet our faculty and fellows and learn more about our ongoing research projects. We’ll cover innovative policy and financial mechanisms designed to rapidly decarbonize the global economy.

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The early-stage climate technology ecosystem is flourishing, and an increasing number of entrepreneurs and scientists are bringing forward startup companies with promising solutions for some of our hardest challenges. Many of the climate problems that once seemed nearly impossible to address—decarbonizing cement, storing low-carbon power for days, replacing high-temperature heat in heavy industry—now have alternatives demonstrating viability in pilot projects around the globe.

However, scaling these innovations to commercial scale presents technology, operational, customer, and construction risks that make them difficult to finance through any traditional sources of lower-cost capital like project or infrastructure finance. Increasing attention has been given to this first-of-a-kind "valley of death," but startups have limited visibility on the levers they can pull in advance of their first commercial-scale project to smooth their trajectory.

During this seminar, Madison Freeman will present the findings of a new white paper from the Steyer-Taylor Center's Financing Climate Innovation Initiative. The white paper is designed as a guidebook for early-stage climate startups to prepare for project scale, including case studies from four recent deployments, risk mitigation levers from the perspective of project investors, and strategies for developing greater sources of capital, knowledge, and operational capacity.

We will be joined by leaders from two of the projects profiled in the white paper, Shreya Dave, CEO of Via Separations and Gabe Malek, Chief of Staff of Fervo Energy, as well as by David McColl, Director of Stanford Climate Ventures.

Speaker bio:

Madison Freeman focuses on scaling innovative climate technologies through policy, finance, and startups. Before coming to Stanford, she served in the Biden administration as a senior advisor on innovative technologies to Climate Envoy John Kerry, invested in breakthrough climate technologies at Energy Impact Partners, crafted innovation policies at DC-based think tanks the Council on Foreign Relations and the Atlantic Council, and has contributed in operational roles to climate startups Via Separations, Verne, and EarthFlow AI. She is an active alumna of the Clean Energy Leadership Institute, where she founded the New York chapter. Madison is pursuing an MBA and an MS in Energy and Resources from the School of Sustainability as a Knight Hennessey Scholar.

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In-person attendance open to all members of the Stanford community. Lunch will be provided! RSVP requested but not required for in-person attendees. All are welcome to attend via Zoom. RSVP required for Zoom access.

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