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Expert Voices: Claire Broido Johnson of Fermata

Alan Neuhauser
Aug 12, 2022
Photo illustration of Claire Broido Johnson and lightning bolts.
Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of Fermata Energy

There are certain people in clean energy and climate-tech investing whose job moves are a big deal. Claire Broido Johnson is one of them.

Why she matters: Broido Johnson co-founded SunEdison (along with Jigar Shah). She's a longtime investor and consultant, held roles at the Department of Energy — and this month accepted the role of COO at Fermata Energy, a vehicle-to-everything startup.

  • Broido Johnson has built a reputation as someone who recognizes early when a particular sector is about to get hot. "Claire has the ability to assess, 'Is this the right time to be inside a growth opportunity in this large market?'," Jon Guerster, partner at Activate Capital, tells Axios.
  • Insiders also used the word "implementer," someone who brings plans to action. A Fermata Energy investor says that he expects Broido Johnson to accelerate the company's deployment of its EV charging infrastructure.

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

  • Absolutely the biggest story is the Inflation Reduction Act.

What would you add to the narrative?

  • With an investment in the order of $370 billion in energy security and climate change, we have one of the strongest opportunities to make a significant difference in our energy future and to spur private sector investment.
  • I saw that impact firsthand from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 when I was at DOE.

By contrast, what is going under-noticed?

  • There's a strong emergence of interesting climate change solutions, such as energy efficiency at scale, waste heat to power and bidirectional charging, that are being commercialized and are investment worthy.
  • Also, I've been supporting women founders in energy and climate change companies for 20 years. Some of the most interesting energy technologies emerging on the scene today are from women-led companies.

In three-ish words, what change would you make to clean energy/climate-tech investment?

  • More operational support for early-stage startups.
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