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Bilal Zuberi of Lux Capital sees money in power

Photo illustration of Bilal Zuberi of Lux Capital next to a power plant, the "x" in the Lux Capital logo, and various shapes

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of Lux Capital

Surging energy demand from data centers, EVs, new manufacturing hubs — it all points to one thing, Bilal Zuberi tells Axios: "Develop more power. It's time to build."

State of play: Zuberi is a general partner at Lux Capital, the $5 billion-plus venture firm, where his focus areas include climate investing.

What's been the big news in climate tech this month?

  • "Amazon buying a data center in Pennsylvania right next to a nuclear power plant.
  • "Typically data centers have avoided nuclear power, but now we're seeing that the amount of power that's going to be required for this will need some new form of carbon-free energy."

What would you add to the narrative?

  • "This is the largest market creation in our lifetime within such a short notice. Nvidia plans to sell 2 million H100 GPUs this year. Each one, at 60% utilization, takes 2,700 KWh.
  • "That's the amount of energy consumed by one household — 2 million new households coming online just this year, from just Nvidia. Where is all that power going to come from?
  • "The GPUs, the buildings, the infrastructure, the energy, the cooling systems — there's a lot of business that's being created that did not exist before."

By contrast, what's going undernoticed?

  • "The state of Washington passed legislation that holds solar developers accountable for misleading advertising.
  • "This is the first time they're requiring a good-faith estimate of the first year's savings. This is important for consumer protection, but also important for software companies that use data to make those estimates."

One tip for climate founders or funders?

  • "We have focused a lot, and rightly so, on energy savings and efficiency. We have to start talking about energy production."
  • "We have not only the AI usage that's going to drive a lot of energy demand. We also have electrification happening in our homes and our cars, manufacturing that's getting repatriated back to the U.S. That's going to demand more power generation."

Three fun things:

💼 First job: Tutoring, mathematics and sciences to high school students.

👑 Proudest investment: "Evolv Technologies. It's a public company now; I was a first investor. It's using advanced sensors, machine learning, and AI to prevent gun violence and other forms of armed violence from stadiums to museums, music venues, and schools all around the country."

🤦‍♂️ Facepalm investment: "AirMap. They're now part of DroneUp, doing drone deliveries for Wal-Mart and others. They were an air-traffic management system for drones that was built in 2014 or so, with the idea that regulations would allow drones to operate in this country.

  • "We are 10 years down the road, and that regulation is still not clear. We killed an entire sector in the U.S., and a Chinese company called DJI took it and ran with it, because regulators sat on their asses."
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