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Wind and whales: how can we manage the conflicts when energy investment affects local communities and eco-systems?  | Podcast

“Electrify everything” is turning from a slogan into reality

1 minute read

On the Energy Gang this week, Ed Crooks is joined by Dr. Melissa Lott, the Director of Research at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, and Amy Duffuor, who is a General Partner at Azolla Ventures, a climate-focused investment firm.    

In this week’s episode, the gang start of by discussing the recent outcry over the possible impact of offshore wind development on whales. Although there is no evidence connecting the wind industry’s activities to the rise in whale deaths, people are worried that there could be a link. It’s an example of the broader issue in energy investment: there can often be tensions and conflicts between what we need to do to tackle the threat of climate change and the interests of local communities and eco-systems. The transition to a low-carbon energy system means building a huge amount of stuff, from wind farms to power lines to lithium mines to flood defenses. The industry is under intense scrutiny to show that it can develop the infrastructure we need in a responsible way.  

Also on this show: “electrify everything” has been a slogan in the clean energy movement for a long time. Now it is becoming a reality, and gathering momentum. Taking just a couple of recent examples: Poland is building new factories to produce heat pumps that will replace gas boilers for home heating; and the state of California has announced that it wants to move to zero emission vehicles not just for passenger cars and light trucks, but for heavy trucks as well, by the end of 2035. These shifts to use electricity for heating and transport and going to increase the load and strains on grids around the world. How can we make sure that electricity systems can keep up? 

Finally, Amy’s firm Azolla is part of a new coalition called the Venture Climate Alliance, designed to accelerate progress towards net zero emissions. Why do we need yet another group in the financial sector working on climate and emissions? And what is the role of venture capital in the transition to a clean energy system? 

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The Energy Gang is brought to you by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati—the premier legal services provider to technology, life sciences, and clean energy enterprises. Wilson Sonsini has built a leading energy and climate solutions practice and its team is dedicated to a single goal: advancing what’s next in the energy industry.  

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