Investor Daniel Gross Discusses Finance and the Renewable Energy Sector
The day when the United States derives 30% to 40% of its power from renewable energy resources is within sight, according to Daniel Gross YC '92, FES '97, '98, who spoke to Yale SOM students as a guest of the Energy Club on November 6.
Gross is a founding partner of Hudson Clean Energy Partners, a global private equity fund with more than $1 billion in assets under management, investing solely in renewable energy and clean technology. He is also the president of Silicor Materials, a Hudson Clean Energy portfolio company that manufactures silicon for solar panels, and is launching a new investment vehicle focused on renewable energy projects.
Describing his professional history, Gross said that he has been guided by a passion for the renewable energy sector since his days as a joint-degree student at SOM and the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. He also outlined the analysis he uses to identify companies in which to invest. He devises hypotheses for how companies will perform, he said, based on the complex, global interplay of technology, politics, and markets. Gross said that he plans to focus next on financial innovations within the sector, particularly the creation of a retail product that would enable individual investors to gain exposure to renewable energy projects in their portfolios.
Gross answered students' questions on the role of natural gas, the history of the renewable energy sector in the U.S., and the challenge of storage for intermittent power sources such as wind and solar. Asked what's needed to promote the U.S. sector, Gross said that stable policies and incentives, as well as government support for interstate transmission infrastructure, are crucial. "We need a long-term government commitment," Gross said. "We're on the verge of having something that is sustainable without subsidy, which has been my dream since I was in your seats."
Jeffrey Schub '13, a co-leader of the Energy Club, said he particularly appreciated the detailed way Gross outlined his method for analyzing investment prospects. "This event is about raising awareness of the opportunities in renewable energy," Schub said.