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Expert Voices: Craig Lawrence of Energy Transition Ventures

Photo illustration of Craig Lawrence surrounded by imagery of clean energy sources.

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Energy Transition Ventures

This week we're talking with Craig Lawrence, a climate-tech investing veteran, former "hardcore mechanical engineer," and now a partner at Energy Transition Ventures.

Why he matters: Lawrence previously led energy investing at Accel, one of the few firms to notch — and keep — big wins during Cleantech 1.0, including well-timed exits from Sunrun and OPower.

  • Fast forward to today, his firm Energy Transition Ventures has about $75 million AUM. It celebrated the one-year anniversary of its first fund launch in April.

What in your view was the big story in clean energy/climate tech this week?

  • The thing that got me excited was the numbers from FERC on new installed generating capacity in the U.S. for Q1: over 95% was renewable.
  • There’s been a lot of discussion around supply chain, increasing costs of materials, minerals for renewables. What seems very clear to me is that the workhorses of the energy transition — solar, wind, batteries — are still operating on all cylinders.

What would you add to the narrative?

  • I hear a lot of negativity: PPA [power purchase agreement] prices going up, raw materials going up, steel going up. But that’s affecting every aspect of the electricity sector — building any new power plant is going to be impacted by that, and we're seeing that solar and wind are holding their own.

By contrast, what's being under-noticed or under-covered?

  • How quickly we can get new technologies and new generation connected to the grid has slowed down, and how quickly we can build new transmission. Those are the things that have become the bottlenecks for decarbonizing the grid.

In three-ish words, what would accelerate investment in clean energy and climate-tech?

  • Build more transmission. That would be my No. 1 policy priority if I was in power.
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