Interview with Leaf Green Energy's Ryan Bunch ‘08
While the growth potential is high for the clean energy industry, it still faces many challenges, especially with funding and investment, according to Georgetown undergraduate alum, Ryan Bunch (’08). After graduating from Georgetown, Bunch worked in energy and infrastructure investment banking. As he started doing more and more business in renewable energy and clean tech, he realized his passion for working with clean tech entrepreneurs and investors and landed at Leaf Clean Energy, a renewable energy and sustainable technology investment firm. In an interview with Bunch, he speaks about the future of the energy industry, and challenges that it faces.
“Since energy technology is very capital-intensive and time-intensive to develop, many venture capital investors are allocating less capital to the sector,” noted Bunch. A few failed government investments in the sector have also factored into the tightening of capital investments.
While venture capital and government investors are being conservative in their investments, Bunch sees corporations playing a key role in developing next-generation technologies to move the industry forward. “More and more corporations are starting to invest in clean tech, both through R&D and acquisitions.”
However, he pointed out that when people think about clean energy, they only think about it in terms of solar and wind power, but the greatest opportunity rests in energy efficiency. “Instead of deploying expensive technologies that still need subsidies to be competitive, the industry is starting to realize the massive opportunity from using our existing energy infrastructure more efficiently.”
Another area with potential for growth and investment is water technology. “Water has been underserved by the investment community for a variety of reasons, but it represents an enormous market opportunity as well as a chance to combat the growing water crisis in many parts of the world,” Bunch projects.
Through his daily work, Bunch empowers those who wish to make a social impact. For those interested in pursuing a social impact career, Bunch recommends being passionate and innovative, and to find opportunities that will allow these concepts to be used on a daily basis.
Hard skills are also necessary to serve as a foundation, even for impact careers. “I wish I had taken more science classes at Georgetown!” Bunch lamented. “Venture capital requires a solid grasp of finance as well as the underlying products being produced by potential investments. Since my background has been in finance, both academically and professionally, I have worked hard to become more comfortable with the science behind the industry.