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Expert Voices: Boundary Stone's Brandon Hurlbut

Aug 5, 2022
Photo illustration of Brandon Hurlbut with abstract shapes and an image of a forest.

Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: courtesy of Brandon Hurlbut

This week we're talking with Brandon Hurlbut, co-founder of advisory firm Boundary Stone Partners and former chief of staff for the Department of Energy during the Obama administration.

Why he matters: Hurlbut has a unique perspective on what's happening at seed, middle and growth stages of the industry through his involvement in his VC firm Overture, Boundary Stone, NGP Energy Technology Partners, and the Sunrise Movement.

What in your view was the big story this week?

  • Climate tech company valuations increased significantly in the public markets after the Inflation Reduction Act was announced. In the last 1.5 weeks, climate tech stocks vastly outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Index (SunRun 42%, First Solar 34%, Tesla 19%, QCLN 17%, Dow Jones 3.04%). Immediately before the IRA, many investors expected climate tech valuations to decrease due to macroeconomic trends and climate tech stock underperformance.  

What would you add to the narrative?

  • Passing the IRA will greatly accelerate the flow of capital into climate tech because the U.S. will have an industrial policy that provides certainty for investors over the next decade rather than the previous lurching from year to year on many tax credits. 

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

  • The IRA will build political support for climate. First, the policies in the IRA are popular — 73% of all likely voters support it, including a majority of Republican voters. Second, the clean energy and climate workforce will expand as the IRA is expected to create 1.5 million jobs concentrated in the manufacturing, construction and services industries.
  • Finally, as consumers use the climate tech products that will be deployed — heat pumps, EVs, solar panels, induction stoves, batteries —  they will save money, experience better technology and have a healthier life due to reduced pollution. As a result, consumers may be more inclined to support politicians who maintain or support those policies.  

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

  • Pass the IRA
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