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Episode 18: Ethan Zindler

This week on Experts Only, Jon talks with Ethan Zindler, Head of Americas at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This discussion is about market trends and the progression of the industry over the last 10 years. Mr. Zindler oversees New Energy Finance’s team of analysts, researchers, and news writers in the Americas covering clean energy market developments.

Ethan edits and writes research on industry trends and speaks regularly on the subject and is the NEF’s specialist covering the U.S. clean energy policy developments. Mr. Zindler has held a variety of news reporting, editing, and web production jobs over his 15-year career. He holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA from Georgetown University.

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Transcript

Jon Powers:

Welcome to Experts Only Podcast sponsored by Clean Capital, you can learn more at cleancapital.com, I’m your host Jon Powers. Each week, we explore the intersection of energy, innovation and finance with leaders across the industry. Thank you so much for joining us.

Jon Powers:

Welcome back to our podcast, I’m really excited. Today, we’re speaking with Ethan Zindler, who is the head of Americas at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. If you don’t know about Bloomberg New Energy Finance, they are the go-to for data on deals, what’s going on in the space and the market, you can learn a lot about what’s happening and what the future market looks like from their research.

Jon Powers:

Ethan has a deep history in leading that research. We talked today a lot about not only what the market trends are and what that research shows, but also about just the progress over the market over the last 10 years, as Ethan talks about, has gone from an industry of folks at all the trade shows with ponytails to a much more professional audience. You can take that however you deem.

Jon Powers:

But you can learn more about Bloomberg New Energy Finance at their website. Let’s get started. Ethan, thank you so much for joining us. You have had a fascinating background, and there’s a lot to cover with Bloomberg New Energy Finance. But I want to step back a little bit and talk about your broader personal history.

Jon Powers:

You actually spent some time in the political scene working on the Clinton-Gore campaign, and then later in the White House. First of all, what led you down that track and what was your role in the White House?

Ethan Zindler:

I was definitely a political junkie all the way from high school through college. I worked on a number of campaigns, actually the Clinton one you know about because that’s the one where we won.

Ethan Zindler:

But I, before that, worked on the Dukakis campaign because I’m from Brookline, Massachusetts, which is where Dukakis is from, and then worked for Feinstein when she ran but lost for governor, eventually she became senator. So I’d always just been really into politics and really, really into campaigns and so I did that. And then when Clinton won-

Jon Powers:

What was your role in the campaign?

Ethan Zindler:

For the last one, the first half of the Clinton campaign, I was the glorified baggage checker. In other words, I was in charge of making sure that the press didn’t lose their bags on their plane, which sometimes happened.

Ethan Zindler:

And for the second half of the campaign, I had a great job where I was “youth media coordinator” and my job was to get Clinton to do MTV and get Clinton to talk to college press and doing radio actualities for college radio stations and all kinds of stuff that back then seemed really cool, hip and happening, but which now seems ancient because the internet came away and basically made all that stuff seem really…

Ethan Zindler:

But back then, believe it or not, getting a presidential candidate on something other than NBC, CBS or ABC was considered unconventional at that time.

Jon Powers:

Right. Today they’re popping up at the nightly shows-

Ethan Zindler:

Yeah, they’re anywhere now.

Jon Powers:

Well, you were pioneer then.

Ethan Zindler:

I guess I was. And then at the White House, I worked in the Office of National Service which was the office that wrote the AmeriCorps legislation and helped get that passed.

Jon Powers:

A big priority for President Clinton.

Ethan Zindler:

Yeah, it was. Frankly, it was more or less a two-line campaign promise that had almost no policy behind it, and then when we won, it was like, “Wow, okay, so we got to actually make this happen.”

Ethan Zindler:

But luckily, there was an office called the Office of National Service that had been established under Bush.And what we learned is that mostly what the people who had been in that office had been doing is writing press releases to cite a thousand points of different things that people had done in service, but not actually been responsible for writing legislation or overseeing really anything, so that’s what that office did.

Jon Powers:

It’s incredible to see what the AmeriCorps folks do every day.

Ethan Zindler:

It’s a great program, it’s survived a lot of attempts to eliminate it, for sure.

Jon Powers:

So the transition from the White House to MTV, how did that happen?

Ethan Zindler:

At MTV, I did a couple things, but the one that’s maybe the most interesting was that I became the “web producer.” So 2000 really was the first year, pretty much, that MTV decided that they wanted to cover a presidential campaign on the internet.

Ethan Zindler:

Back then, the idea of having a website, that was pretty unusual. So we did a lot of fun stuff to try and cover the campaign. We were very much integrated with the folks who were covering the campaign on air as well as the Choose or Lose group. Again, it sounds incredibly antiquated now, but it was a lot of fun, and we did-

Jon Powers:

Was Rock the Vote up by then?

Ethan Zindler:

So Rock the Vote was around then, and Rock the Vote was definitely very much about registering people. Choose or Lose, which was the MTV thing, was about covering the campaign. But yeah, it was ultimately all about getting young people registered to vote.

Ethan Zindler:

That was the end goal, but we really tried to take an evenhanded way of covering that campaign, the Bush-Gore campaign which, of course, then went into overtime for about a month, as I’m sure we all remember. It was a lot of fun.

Jon Powers:

What led from that to clean energy?

Ethan Zindler:

If this sounds like a circuitous career path, it’s because it was. I then went to business school, and the thought was, “Well, maybe I’ll do this and then I’ll come back and work in the media business some more.” But I went to business school, and then while I was there, I graduated at a time that was just the worst time, or at least at that point what seemed like the worst time for anybody to get out of a business school program.

Ethan Zindler:

My wife had just had a daughter and I looked at a lot of my fellow graduates, and they really were having trouble finding jobs. I’m from New England originally and I spent a lot of time on Cape Cod as a kid and there was a job at the local newspaper there as the one and only business reporter for the Cape Cod Times. And at the time, even then, I will say this, I knew that there-

Jon Powers:

You got your MBA, so you were qualified.

Ethan Zindler:

I figured I was qualified. I also figured I’d be, frankly, the lowest paid member of the Columbia Business School graduating class, but I would have a job. And my wife and I were ready to get out of New York post-9/11, I think, with a daughter. We were pretty much done, for at least a while.

Ethan Zindler:

And also, I went to the paper and I loved it. I think it’s just a fantastic place to work and interesting people and real commitment to good journalism. So we picked up and we moved to West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, where I lived and I covered, and the reason eventually for getting into clean energy.

Ethan Zindler:

I knew even at business school, when I was looking at the Cape Cod Times, was that they were building or trying to build a major offshore wind project out there called Cape Wind. And I thought, “Wow, if I’m the business reporter, I guess I’ll get to cover that.”

Ethan Zindler:

Frankly, it took me a good year at the paper before they’d let me touch the story because there were other people. It was the hottest story that Cape Cod Times was covering, or one of them, but eventually, I got to cover it.

Ethan Zindler:

So I got really very, very familiar with the Cape Wind Project, the controversy surrounding it, I knew the opponents, I know Jim Gordon well, who’s the developer, and did a lot of work, tried to use my MBA as much as I could to try and think about the cash flows around that project and how it could pencil out and how it could work and all the things that were around it. It was a fantastic experience.

Ethan Zindler:

On a good day, you’d write a story that would make the front page and both sides would call and yell at you. And that would happen pretty frequently, both the opponents and the supporters of the project.

Jon Powers:

What led from that into further research in clean energy and, of course, the Bloomberg?

Ethan Zindler:

About three years into that, I loved it, but my wife, frankly, was ready to move back to a larger urban area. So she moved down first, but eventually I found out about this outfit called New Energy Finance that was just starting. And of course, back then, if we think of this as an industry of real size, it was very small back then. I heard about this guy, Michael Liebreich, he was starting a company in London, I was down here in DC and he and I-

Jon Powers:

This was around 2005-ish?

Ethan Zindler:

Yeah, around then. I wish I could even remember the exact time, but about then. He said, “Hey, we’re going to start this thing up.” Actually, at the time, New Energy Finance was two things. One, it was very, very small, and two, I was going to be the first US employee. They had no employees in the United States at all.

Ethan Zindler:

So I interviewed with him and I was like, “Oh, this sounds good, but what the hell is this going to be? It’s a startup and I got a kid, how am I going to make all this work?” So he said, “Look, if you want to check us out, if you fly over to London, if you pay for the ticket and then you take the job, we’ll reimburse for you. If you don’t, then that ticket’s on you.” So I said, “All right.”

Ethan Zindler:

So I flew over to London, showed up on a Saturday morning, and I went over to the office and I rang the bell and actually nobody answered. And I was like, “Oh, shit, this is a huge mistake.” But eventually found, and then I spent the day talking with the CEO, Michael Liebreich, who’s a good friend and someone I admire a great deal to this day.

Ethan Zindler:

And I talked with about five other people and each one of the people, I asked them about New Energy Finance. I said, “What’s the business model?” and each one of them gave me a totally different answer. But my belief was basically that these technologies were really exciting, that they would change the world, that were somewhat inevitable.

Ethan Zindler:

And frankly, that’s the one thing I give myself credit for, not for believing in the right company or anything or being a genius, but just believing that this stuff was actually going to grow. And so I was very fortunate that it has since then.

Jon Powers:

Yeah, and you’ve been able to see the growth of that industry. We’re through the evolution of, do these technologies even work, and now it’s how do we drive down capital to get more implementation?

Ethan Zindler:

Exactly. So back in those days, it was just, “Okay. Well, will there be a good feed-in tariff or strong subsidy? Okay. That’s where there’ll be a market. And when that disappears, then that market disappears.” That still happens to some degree today, but we’ve now definitely moved to the point where this stuff is legitimately economic and more context.

Jon Powers:

So for our listeners, explain what Bloomberg New Energy Finance does. Talk a little bit about the growth over the last really 12 years you’ve been there.

Ethan Zindler:

New Energy was called New Energy Finance as a startup company. Again, there were about 20, 25 of us when I joined in about 2005. At the time, basically, we just didn’t really know what the business was going to be other than we wanted to gather as much reliable data and information as we could about all this stuff that was happening.

Ethan Zindler:

Frankly, what the actual revenue model was going to be for us was far from clear. As we joke is that we had the Saudi Arabia of energy data. So all of us, me too, everybody was just constantly logging deals and logging organizations, every scrap of data we could get, we put into a database.

Ethan Zindler:

The closest that we had to an actual publication was that we would publish a newsletter every month, including one on the Americas, which I used to do, but the reality of it is that that was it. We started to get subscribers and people to access the data. And that worked okay, but it didn’t generate a lot of money.

Ethan Zindler:

And then at some point, we said to ourselves, “Wait. Well, we’ve now been doing this for about three years, we actually know something about this, why don’t we write a more in-depth research about the trends, not just news, but actually what’s going on the microeconomic stuff? We have all this data. We can analyze it ourselves.

Ethan Zindler:

And besides, frankly, two things, nobody else is doing it, and this industry’s not that old that there are any super well-established experts that we can’t potentially be those people.” So the business basically was we started and have sold access to the research that we produce and, importantly, access to the underlying data.

Ethan Zindler:

I think that’s always something we try to emphasize as differentiator, is that we don’t just say, “Okay, we think this much wind is going to get built next year.” We say, “Okay, this is how much wind was going to get built, here is the Excel sheet where you can take a look at the projects and where we think they’re going to be.” And if you disagree, go ahead, reshuffle the data, come up with a different forecast.

Jon Powers:

You guys were playing big data before it was the cool thing.

Ethan Zindler:

Yes. Thankfully, it was little big data. Because there wasn’t that much going on in the industry, it wasn’t that hard that you couldn’t have a dozen of us basically just tap-tap-tapping stuff into a database.

Jon Powers:

So over time with that growth, what have you seen in the industry, and what are you projecting out? What are some of the common exciting things for the industry moving forward?

Ethan Zindler:

Well, certainly, my old friend, Jodie Roussel, from the American Council on Renewable Energy used to joke about the ponytail factor, these are the early days of the clean energy. She used to say that the sign of progress was the decreasing number of men with ponytails. Little did she know, that was back then, now it’s man buns or whatever, what the hell is this?

Ethan Zindler:

I don’t know if that’s a good metric anymore, but back then, you saw a professionalization of the industry more as… Frankly, it became less people who are… And great respect to people who are advocates, but it became less about advocates and more about money people and entrepreneurs and people who are hardheaded and professional.

Ethan Zindler:

And so definitely have seen a lot more of that and a lot more people have come in, and certainly opportunists along with them, that’s for sure. But look, you need that to make the industry grow. So that’s been a huge thing, and then I would say the professionalization.

Ethan Zindler:

The second thing has been commoditization, I would say, and particularly around solar equipment. As you know, the price of solar equipment has plummeted and it’s being driven by economies of scale more than anything. I think for a long time, it was really all about technology, technology, technology and all these different types of technologies that were out there.

Ethan Zindler:

And I think it’s still a fascinating industry in terms of the various technologies that could still change our world, but as you know, the things that have really come along and just achieved things have been more about scale and less, not less about technology, but there hasn’t been that super eureka moment, I would say, for solar. It’s still basically the same technology I was looking at 10 years ago, it’s just being done so much bigger and cheaper than it was then.

Jon Powers:

There’s less reliance on the concept of the holy grail that’s going to break this through.

Ethan Zindler:

Yeah. It’s got to be that one thing that just changes our world. Even batteries, people keep talking about in the same context, but batteries, again, at scale, it’s really, really driven down cost.

Jon Powers:

I’m going to dive into one of the recent reports you guys put out. Early this month, Bloomberg Energy Finance reported that global investment in clean energy such as wind and solar reached about 333.5 billion in 2017. It’s about a 3% rise from last year, but about 7% off the record overall. What do you view as driving this trend, and what do you think of those 2017 numbers?

Ethan Zindler:

I think the good news about the numbers is, first of all, is you know that the price per unit of wind and solar keep coming down. So if you keep posting dollar figures that are more or less in the same zone, and we really have been somewhere in the neighborhood of, give or take, around 300 billion now for the last five or six years, then you’re talking about more and more stuff getting built.

Ethan Zindler:

Actually, we don’t have a final number on total clean energy built this year, but they’re probably going to be somewhere around 150, 160 gigawatts. It’s a lot of capacity and it’s a majority of the new power generating capacity that’s getting built typically in a year, is now zero carbon, particularly if you include large hydro, definitely if you include nuclear.

Ethan Zindler:

My first thing is always like, another evidence that we should not refer to this as alternative energy, this is mainstream energy, there’s no question about that. So I would say that’s the main takeaway, I would say, from last year. The other thing is, underlying that, of course, is the phenomenon of China, which is just incredible.

Ethan Zindler:

It just continues to blow our minds. We counted about 50 gigawatts of solar that got built in China last year. That’s like, I don’t know, I think our high watermark in the US is, I don’t know, 12 or 15 gigawatts. That’s a lot. That is a lot of solar.

Ethan Zindler:

Every time we think, “Oh, it’s just going to cool down a little bit,” it just goes. It just goes and goes. So China is about, I don’t know, roughly about half the world. About 40% of all total investment in the world went into China for clean energy.

Jon Powers:

I want to come back to China. I want to come back to the international space because as exciting as stuff’s happening here, it’s equally exciting internationally, which is great for the industry.

Jon Powers:

But going back to the 333 billion or 300 billion over the last few years, the World Economic Forum put out a report last year that less than half a percent of institutional capital is invested in the space, continues to rise, there’s targets to reach 1%, which would be great, but looking at that 300 billion, do you guys sort of break down where some of that’s coming from?

Ethan Zindler:

We do. It’s interesting actually though. There’s two data sets in terms of dollars, so there’s also green bond financing, which is typically over a hundred billion dollars, but it is not, and I’ve got to check what our final number is going to be for 2017, but it’ll be somewhere around that. It’s actually not a subset because that’s money that… There’s some overlap, but there’s some differences as well, and it includes some things that aren’t clean energy, just to be clear.

Ethan Zindler:

But the trend has been clearly upward on the part of institutional investors. In some ways it’s, I always joke and say that the way in which our industry raises money is still really immature. So your 300 and some billion dollars, and then the large majority of that is project finance, and the large majority of the project finance is simply money that’s raised through some form of syndication of debt and a small handful number of players.

Ethan Zindler:

You’re talking now tens of hundreds of billions of dollars. The industry could and should and is, in some cases, raising money in larger chunks over the institutional markets through bond offerings and pension fund investments.

Ethan Zindler:

So that’s the way things have to keep going. I think we’ll see more of that because… I think, amazingly enough, there’s still, you operate in the sector, so I think this seems like duh, but there’s a lot of people for whom they’re still like, “Wow, wind, solar, that’s weird technology, what’s that risk about?” You’re like, “Well, wait a second. Guys, now we’ve got lot of years of performance here to show that this works.”

Ethan Zindler:

And second, you take the fuel price risk out of the equation, don’t tell me that this is higher risk than projects where you really don’t know what your input costs are going to be over a 20-year lifespan. So I think actually institutional investors are figuring that out. And on top of that, they are facing some pressure, of course, to move away qfrom investments in fossil fuel.

Ethan Zindler:

So those two things combined, you definitely see some of the players. The California Pension Fund has definitely been in it for a while, but you see some interesting moves recently. Quebec Pension Fund bought a portfolio of Mexican wind projects, the Texas State Teachers Retirement Fund is taking direct investments in renewables projects as well. So there’s just definitely more to come in that space.

Jon Powers:

It’s interesting you brought up the check size too, because I think what we see in the market today is you’ve got folks that are beginning to get interested, the education is there, the pressure is there from stakeholders, but there hasn’t been the right check size for them to even take a look.

Jon Powers:

Unless you’re talking utility scale, solar or utility scale wind, putting that check size together is challenging and you’ve got to aggregate. But I think the projects now are out there in size and scale enough to begin to attract.

Ethan Zindler:

And I think it’s always going to be… Look, we’re probably the most bullish about distributed solar of almost anybody, and we think it’s going to really revolutionize the world. But the reality is it’s always going to be, if it gets bigger, it’s going to go from tens of hundreds of thousands of systems to millions of systems, and it’s got to get aggregated, it’s got to, to keep driving the costs of finance down.

Jon Powers:

Do you have a lot of those institutions coming to you all for data?

Ethan Zindler:

We do, and a bunch of them are our clients. I would say this though, it’s interesting for us as a business, is that, look, it’s more often to be someone who’s directly involved in direct project finance of individual projects and less likely to be someone who’s at a pension fund for the reason we’re saying, that they haven’t done as much historically, but the more that the pension funds get involved, the better.

Ethan Zindler:

And the other thing is our business now, we’re part of Bloomberg, so our data and information is available over the Bloomberg terminal. And actually that’s where a lot of these large pension fund folks are, they do have terminal access. So a big part of what we’re doing is saying, “Hello, you’ve got a terminal and you’re interested in clean energy, and hey, did you know you could look up the last 10 wind farm financings in Texas if you want and see who did them?” And in many cases they’re like, “Oh, I didn’t know that.” It’s cool.

Jon Powers:

You see them coming to some of the events too?

Ethan Zindler:

Yeah, they definitely come to the events. We’ll have, at our summit, which I’ll give a plug for in April, we’re definitely going to have a panel. We’ve done it before, we’ll do another one to do lay of the land.

Ethan Zindler:

We’ll certainly have California represented on that, we’ll probably have someone from New York state represented on there, I think we’re going to try someone from Quebec, but we’d like to also have, whether it’s Texas or somebody else so it’s not… As you know, there’s some funds that have really been the most on the front foot on this stuff, but more are starting to come around now.

Jon Powers:

That’s great. So before we go international, we’re sitting here in Washington DC, we’re about six blocks away from the White House, leading into 2017, there was a definite gasp among clean energy experts for fear of what was going to happen.

Jon Powers:

But I think what we’re seeing, federal policy aside, this has become a state level game, the right things are moving, the cost of capital is coming down, the costs of panels are coming down, wind projects are being implemented in conservative states that are getting championed, I think none of us expected.

Jon Powers:

But we are a year into the Trump administration, putting aside the solar tariff piece, what do you guys view as the effects of the administration, without being political, on the market?

Ethan Zindler:

So actually, I’m glad you asked because actually our monthly VIP brief that we do for clients and actually to the public, I’m supposed to write this month about the one year review of Trump, because I wrote something right after he got elected in which I tried to be as optimistic as possible, at least in saying that the guy is a businessman, so any rational businessman, once they spend a little time will figure out that clean energy’s a good deal for the US, unless you don’t want to actually kill it.

Ethan Zindler:

A year later, I’m less optimistic that he’s a rational businessman, let’s put it that way. I think though, and it’s probably more or less what I’ll say in the piece, is that I think the good news for the industry is that these guys, him and his administration, they do not understand how to pull the levers of power very well.

Ethan Zindler:

And so they’ve certainly sought to lay a glove on the clean energy industry, but so far, I think they’ve been generally unsuccessful. I would argue that it’s largely that they don’t really know how this stuff works all that well. I would say that the most meaningful, I think the Paris thing symbolically obviously was not great for the industry, but it didn’t really make a difference on the day to day stuff.

Jon Powers:

I’d argue it just countered the amount that came out of people announcing Nike Eagle this week going renewable energy. Others said, “Wait a minute. If you’re not going to do, we are.”

Ethan Zindler:

Corporate, certainly they jumped right into the bridge, there’s no question about that. But I think the bullet that the industry largely dodged was tax reform. And the tax credit at the… When we’re talking federal stuff, the tax credit’s the most important policy.

Jon Powers:

Absolutely.

Ethan Zindler:

And basically at the very end of the last year, as you know, they managed to, more or less, it’s complicated, won’t get into it too much, but they, more or less, managed to get the tax credits exempted from what would’ve been a floor level type of policy, this BEAT provision, without getting any more detailed on that.

Ethan Zindler:

This is going to be a very interesting year for financing for project financing. There’s going to be a lot of rethinking and there’s going to be some reshuffling. And in some ways, what they did do at the end of the year will hurt the industry, but not nearly as bad as it could have been.

Jon Powers:

Yeah, I agree. And going back to the levers conversation, you look across the bureaucracy and having sat at like you have, you have to know you can’t just put an executive order, you actually have to manage that executive order.

Ethan Zindler:

You can’t just tweet out that you’re not going to suggest Florida offshore drilling. There’s actually a process. And the FERC thing to me is just, and the effort that Secretary Perry’s effort to basically tell FERC what to do, and say, “We want you to basically go reward coal fire generation,” and them saying, “Well, actually that’s just not how this works,” that to me is case in point of that’s not how the system works.

Jon Powers:

It was refreshing to see them come out and show that the system works.

Ethan Zindler:

Yeah, things take time, as you know, you worked in government. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide how you want things to go. You actually have to be very clear and strategic about it, and they haven’t been so far.

Jon Powers:

So before we end, I want to talk about international. You talked about China, which is incredibly exciting. And over two dozen countries last year invested more than a billion dollars in clean energy. What are we seeing out of the rest of the world and is our lack of leadership today stifling that, or are we just falling behind because we’re not-

Ethan Zindler:

That’s a good question. The one thing I will say about the rest of the world question is, look, the Chinese, if we want to look at this from a competitive aspect as we sit here in Washington, and you, a former White House person, and me formerly working at the White House a long time ago, that from a competitive aspect, the Chinese view this as a strategic opportunity on a lot of different levels and they are moving very quickly to get their equipment, clean energy equipment out to more markets.

Ethan Zindler:

There are actually a variety of reasons for that, one of which is because they’ve built an unprecedented volume of manufacturing capacity back home and they do not want idle plants, so they need markets. And then the second thing is that one way for them to actually exercise some soft power is to show up in a country and say, “Hello, we’ll build you a nice big wind or solar project, we will bring you the equipment. And by the way, we will finance it too through the China Development Bank.” And they are being very, very aggressive about that.

Jon Powers:

And most likely you’ll be using Chinese construction.

Ethan Zindler:

Potentially, or even local. But for countries that have lack of access to capital and are interested in clean energy, it’s almost like a turnkey solution. They’re doing other things too where they’re actually shoving it as buying local developers. I was just in Brazil last week where our national grid has bought a company called CPFL, which is a local developer and owner of assets.

Ethan Zindler:

We’re seeing more and more of that take place, so I think the reality of it is that we focus a lot on Chinese as manufacturers, they are also international financiers and now developers as well. But look, from a global and climate perspective, great. If they have the cheapest capital and they can do it, fantastic. From a US competitiveness perspective, it’s not so great.

Jon Powers:

Exactly. First of all, thank you for all this. For folks that aren’t familiar with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, how do they get involved, how do they engage you guys?

Ethan Zindler:

Bloomberg New Energy Finance is, well, first of all, you can look us up on the web, but second of all, we have conferences which are invite only, but we are certainly interested in people who want to attend or speak at those. Of course, we love how people read our stuff, which is far from free, and so if you’re interested in subscribing, you drop me a note.

Jon Powers:

Yeah. It’s interesting because we have a variety of listeners, folks that are really on the investment side, and we’ve got students just learning about the space, so quite an interesting group. So I always ask the last question the same, especially speaking to those folks just getting into the industry. If you could look back and you’ve got quite a, you even said an interesting rollercoaster of a career, and you could give yourself a piece of advice coming out of high school or college, what would you say?

Ethan Zindler:

Right now? Well, first off, if it was to myself, I would say, “You should be a better student, you should take it seriously.” Because I was a pretty bad high school student. Then I would also say it’s not the end of the world if you aren’t a great high school student, because you can make it up in college. So I don’t know, that would be the first thing.

Ethan Zindler:

In some ways, it’s very different from what… To myself, when I first joined this industry, it was a very much of a small industry which showed a lot of promise. Now we’ve reached some real scale and some scope and there are a lot of great opportunities out there, I think, for people to get involved.

Ethan Zindler:

I do think that, though, there’s, as you know as a person who’s an entrepreneur, there’s still a lot of areas for a startup. And the one thing I am struck by, and we’re very, as I said, very optimistic about the distributed energy aspect of all this, there’s a lot of small projects to be done. There’s millions of small projects to be done, and ultimately, those add up to a lot of value.

Ethan Zindler:

It’s not always about going off and trying to figure out how you finance a $100 million wind farm, it’s about figuring out how you finance a $1 million rooftop or even a $200,000 rooftop, because frankly, all of this stuff, like I said, we model it and the economics look great and whatever, but at the end of the day, you need an army of people to actually do all of this.

Ethan Zindler:

So I think local development is something which is always going to be an opportunity. If you’re really a self-start enterprising and you live in a place where either, A, power prices are really high or, B, it’s very sunny or, C, both of those things, you might want to look around and see like, is there anybody I could talk to about how I actually helped them think about putting solar, ever thought about doing solar and can I chat with them about it?

Ethan Zindler:

Because the answer in many cases is this, “Huh. Well, I never really thought about that,” as you know. And so I think those are where the opportunities lie.

Jon Powers:

You don’t need a ponytail to get it too.

Ethan Zindler:

No. A man bun might help.

Jon Powers:

Ethan, thank you so much for your time and thanks for joining us.

Ethan Zindler:

Awesome. Thanks, Jon.

Jon Powers:

Thank you, Ethan, for the fantastic rundown of what’s going on in the space. There’s so much moving in the clean energy market, we want to keep you up to speed here at Experts Only. Please be in touch with your thoughts on who else we should be interviewing. I’d like to thank our producers, Lauren Glickman and Emily Connor, for their great work. And please go to cleancapital.com to learn more. Look forward to continuing the conversation.