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Expert voices: Generate Capital's Scott Jacobs on big energy transition winners

Photo illustration of Scott Jacobs surrounded by abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Courtesy of Generate Capital

Not enough attention is being paid to the big winners coming out of the energy transition, Scott Jacobs, CEO of Generate Capital, tells Katie.

Why it matters: While 2023 brought big climate tech milestones, particularly unprecedented U.S. government support, price inflation made the year challenging for clean energy developers.

  • Jacobs has a front-row seat to the deployment of climate tech infrastructure.
  • His decade-old San Francisco-based firm Generate Capital has raised more than $8 billion and helped generate 340 gigawatt-hours of renewable power and process 770 kilotons of organic waste.
  • The company portfolio includes anaerobic digesters, EV fleet charging hubs, and composting facilities.

This interview was lightly edited for clarity.

What in your view was the big news in climate-tech investing this month?

  • "According to RMI, 2023 closed out with $1.8 trillion invested in clean energy. That is $500 billion more than 2022, which makes me excited to see how 2024 closes!"

What would you add to the narrative?

  • "We will hear a lot about the Valley of Death for climate tech at the post-demonstration and pre-scale-up phase.
  • The most compelling solutions will cross that chasm while many innovations struggle to scale in a tougher funding environment."

By contrast, what's going undernoticed?

  • "People are not paying enough attention to how many winners there are from the energy transition — and how big they are."

One tip for climate-tech investors or founders:

  • "The best thing I can say is to choose carefully and invest in teams that have deep expertise in climate technologies."

Three fun things:

💼 First job:

  • "My first real job was at the Valley Tennis shop, but early in my career I also was a sales manager for Alliance Data Systems."

👑 Proudest investment:

  • "Generate's investment in Hillsborough County Public Schools.
  • Not only is this a perfect example of what Generate is trying to do with a holistic approach, but we helped the district avoid $13 million in annual utility costs, reduce 45,000 metric tons of CO2, and improve air quality in 100% of the public schools."

🤦🏻‍♂️ Facepalm investment or investment you wish you made:

  • "Turning down a Google job offer in 1999."

💡 In three-ish words, the change you would make to climate-tech investing:

  • "Think long term."
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