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Expert Voices: Janice Tran, CEO of Kanin Energy

Photo illustration of Janice Tran, CEO of Kanin Energy, with images of a factory and abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: courtesy of Kanin Energy

This week we're talking with Janice Tran, CEO of Kanin Energy, which is developing what it calls waste-heat-to-power to help reduce emissions from heavy industry.

Why she matters: In addition to being a climate tech founder, Tran was previously a director at Generate Capital, and has spent more than a decade at the intersection of clean tech and finance.

What in your view was the big story this week?

  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday convened a bipartisan working group on clean energy and climate policy. This process would require 10 Republican votes — much more onerous than through the budget reconciliation process, which would only require Democrat votes.
  • Manchin was responsible for blocking the Build Back Better bill, and when it died in December, much of President Biden's climate promises died with it.
  • A climate deal would need to be reached before Memorial Day because of the midterm elections. Legislation that includes the extension and expansion of the investment tax credit and production tax credits is critical to spur development of green energy in the U.S.

What would you add to the narrative?

  • The "do-nothing" approach is detrimental. But if the suggested climate policies in Build Back Better are revived, the U.S. will have a hope of meeting its 2030 and 2050 climate targets.
  • Biden hasn't done much to materially advance the climate agenda and near-term decarbonization. He last month ordered the opening of oil reserves and asked oil and gas companies to start increasing production.
  • The lack of a uniform carbon price across the U.S. is causing certain jurisdictions to see the bulk of investment in green energy, while leaving many other regions behind. The result is an inefficient allocation of investments going to where the incentives are, and not where the best clean energy resources are. The energy transition will be more costly as a result.

By contrast, what’s being under-reported or under-covered?

  • The next frontier in clean energy procurement is 24/7 carbon free energy, expedited by the recent United Nations 24/7 Carbon Free Energy Global Compact.
  • The compact aims to create a standard and marketplace for time-stamped hourly renewable energy credits to allow matching of hourly energy consumption to hourly green energy generation.
  • Green-energy buyers are getting more sophisticated with their procurement and impact, and are now trying to match their hourly power consumption with the hourly generation of clean power.
  • In a paradigm of increased solar and wind saturation on the grid, further developments in baseload clean technologies are needed to achieve the next level of grid decarbonization.
  • Just like the early days of renewable energy credits, creating standard markets to incentivize development of baseload green power is key.

In three words, what one change would you make to accelerate investment in climate tech?

  • Build Back Better
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