ETN Rising Stars of Emerging Tech 2023
ETN commemorates the 2023 World Energy Storage Day (September 22) with a special section dedicated to the visionaries and promoters of clean energy technologies globally. Meet the 2023 'Rising Stars', or promising names spearheading the development and deployment of clean energy technologies including battery energy storage, e-mobility, and green hydrogen globally.
Andrew Ponec is the co-founder and CEO of Antora Energy, a startup developing thermal batteries that deliver zero-carbon industrial heat and power. As Ponec describes it, the company runs renewable electricity through a resistive heater to drive up the temperature of carbon blocks, an extremely stable material produced at great scales and offering massive cost benefits. When clients want power, they simply open a large shutter to extract thermal radiation, which generates power using thermophotovoltaic technology.
Ponec has led technology development and fundraising at Antora Energy, which is backed by world-leading investors including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Lowercarbon Capital, and Shell Ventures. Ponec previously founded a solar energy company called Dragonfly Systems, which developed and commercialized novel power electronics for utility-scale solar power plants, and was acquired by SunPower in 2014.
Following the success of his transformational mobility startup Ola Cabs, Bhavish's EV venture 'Ola Electric' – encompassing the world's largest electric two-wheeler 'futurefactory' with 10 million units annual capacity spread across 500 acres - met with much success since its market launch in 2021. Valued at $5 billion last year, Ola sold around 95,000 e-scooters from April-August this year, leading the Indian e-scooter market with a 32 percent share.
As an emerging leader standing up to the cause of electric mobility in global markets, Bhavish Aggarwal showed his acumen in smartly handling the initial hiccups faced by his EVs when launched in the Indian market. With continued expansion of manufacturing and product lines, Ola Electric will soon export its e-scooters to Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Europe. Plans are in place to bring out an electric car in 2024.
Zoi is heading the Evgo – the largest EV fast-charging network in the United States with over 900 stations across 30 states. She is also the Cofounder and Executive Chairman of Odyssey Energy, a digital start-up that works for bringing distributed, renewable electricity to communities and businesses in emerging economies. As inspiring personality in the energy sector, she has held numerous CEO, senior executive and board positions in the energy industry, government, academia, and non-profit sectors.
Previously, she served in the Obama Administration as Assistant Secretary and Acting Under Secretary at the Department of Energy, where she oversaw more than $30 billion in energy investments. She has also been the founding CEO of Alliance for Climate Protection, established and chaired by U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the Sustainable Energy Development Authority, a clean energy SPV in Australia.
Debi Prasad Dash has been involved in policy advocacy, market creation, and strategy consulting in emerging technology areas like energy storage, advanced battery, renewable integration, green hydrogen, and the electric mobility sector. He is actively involved in the policy recommendations, to both central & state governments in India, for the energy storage & EV roadmap for India, manufacturing policy for advanced energy storage technologies and development of grid-scale energy storage guidelines for India.
He also initiated the World Energy Storage Day (WESD) initiative to celebrate the energy storage movement worldwide. He is currently part of the BIS Energy Storage Standards Committee (ETD-52), and ASPIRE (DHI, ICAT Initiative). Debi holds an MBA degree from Symbiosis International University and a Post-Graduation Diploma in Renewable Energy (PGDRE) from TERI University.
Essa Al-Saleh is currently Chief Executive Officer and Director at Volta Trucks that aims to change the logistics industry with fully electric trucking solutions. Founded in 2019, the company achieved a significant milestone this year with the start of series production of its Volta Zero 16-tonne electric delivery truck. The company has already locked in customer orders for the first 300 vehicles even before the commencement of production. Volta will also be starting pilot programs in US later this year.
Al-Saleh joined Volta Trucks as Chairman of the Board of Directors in September 2020, and taking on the role as Chief Executive Officer in April 2021. Prior to that, he was the CEO at Agitero AG, and President and CEO at Agility Logistics, where he proved his mettle in the global freight and logistics business for over 13 years.
Ghanshyam Prasad is the Chairperson and Ex-Officio Secretary to the Government of India, Central Electricity Authority - Ministry of Power. He is also the member, ex-officio, of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission. He has served 30 years in power sector and three years in the Bokaro Steel Plant, SAIL.
During which he was involved in Reforms and Restructuring (R&R) in the electricity sector and operation and monitoring (OM) of the electricity grid. He has contributed in the areas of generation including the renewable energy, transmission, distribution, power market development/ trading of power, energy efficiency, regulatory commission experience, disaster management, data analytics and information management system.
He did his graduation in B.Tech (Electrical Engineering) from IIT/BHU, Benares Hindu University. He holds an M.Tech in Energy & Environment Management from IIT Delhi, and an MBA (Finance) from IGNOU, Delhi.
He Xiaopeng is the Co-founder and Chairman of Xpeng Motors, the Chinese EV maker dual-listed in New York and Hong Kong, which is undergoing massive e-car product revamp and expansion into international markets this year. A dynamic entrepreneur, He co-founded the popular Chinese mobile internet software UCWeb in 2004, which was later acquired by the Alibaba Group. From 2017, he is heading the electric automotive startup
as full-time chairman.
Under his visionary leadership, Xpeng has grown leaps and bounds in recent years to fight on the likes of established EV players like Tesla and BYD in the Chinese e-car market. The company's market capitalization is pegged at 59.01 billion yuan ($8.48 billion) as of May 2023. Recently, Volkswagen Group announced $700 million capital infusion into the company, while Xpeng acquired ride-hailing platform Didi's smart-car development arm for $744 million.
Horace Luke is the Founder CEO and Chairman of the Board at Gogoro, the Taiwanese firm championing the battery-swapping platform for electric scooters in developing markets. The commercial success of the company's electric scooters and battery-swapping networks in Taiwan led to its most massive overseas expansion in recent times, with its increasing footprint in countries like Korea, Philippines, China, Israel, and Singapore, and pilot plans in Indonesia, India, and so on.
Previously, Horace was the Chief Innovation Officer at HTC, where he led all product strategy and innovation. Prior to that, he worked at Microsoft, where he led product ideation and brand creation for the original Xbox, and drove brand and user experience innovation across several of Microsoft's leading products and services. He began his career at Nike where he played a key role in the development of many of Nike's most iconic brands and experiences.
Jason Few has worked at the intersection of transformation across technology and energy for Global Fortune 500, small/mid-cap, and privately held energy, technology, and telecommunications firms including NRG/Reliant, Continuum Energy, Motorola, and Sustayn Analytics.
He is known for his decisive stance on high-stakes projects, transforming companies into multi-brand, multi-product consumer services providers; much like the transformation he is also engineering at Fuel Cell Energy - a global leader in fuel cell technology focused on distributed power, hydrogen, energy storage, and carbon capture.
Jason is a member of The Business Council, serves on the Boards of Fuel Cell Energy, and Enbridge Inc, and is also a member of the Hydrogen Council. He has done Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Systems in Business, from Ohio University and an MBA from Northwestern University's J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
Having spent time as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Doosan Enerbility – Korea, Jeff Chung went to the US in 2014 to lead the acquisition of ClearEdge Power and establish Doosan Fuel Cell America. Since then, he has transformed the company into an integrated hydrogen solution provider by securing 20 percent of the global stationary fuel cell market share in 2021 and a manufacturing capacity of 70 MW in the U.S. for stationary fuel cell production. In 2022, he renamed the company to HyAxiom, Inc.
Chung is working towards expanding HyAxiom's presence across the hydrogen value chain beyond stationary fuel cells, from electrolysis for green hydrogen production to a solid oxide-based maritime propulsion system and PEM-based transportation power pack for commercial vehicles. He has a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Economics from Harvard University, and a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Economics from Brown University.
Jeff Bishop is a clean energy entrepreneur and a leader in the US energy transition space, with a focus on the intersection of finance, commercial, technology and policy. He is CEO and co-founder of Key Capture Energy, one of America's largest owner / operators of standalone battery storage projects.
Prior to founding Key Capture, Bishop held senior positions at Brookfield Renewable and EDP Renewables – among the largest renewable energy companies in the US – with responsibilities spanning financial analysis, corporate development, and market design.
Bishop holds an MBA from Chicago Booth and a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Rice University. He is currently on leave from his Masters in Electrical Engineering degree at the University of Utah. Among his other accolades, Bishop was a Forbes Thirty Under Thirty – Energy award winner in the program's inaugural year in 2011.
Jennifer has authored 50 U.S. patents and more than 30 scientific publications, and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. She is on the Governing Council for the Bio Energy Research Institute in India, set up by the DBT (Department of Biotechnology, Indian Government) and IOC (Indian Oil Corporation).
She also sits on the Advisory Council for the Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment at Princeton University, the National Academies' Board on Energy and Environmental Systems (BEES), the Halliburton Labs Advisory Board, the Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS International Advisory Council, and the Founder Advisory for The Engine, a venture capital fund built by MIT that invests in early-stage science and engineering companies.
Jennifer holds a B.Sc. degree from Harvey Mudd College, a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
Jennifer Rumsey is the Chair and CEO of Cummins Inc., a global company that offers a broad portfolio of power solutions for businesses, including diesel, natural gas, battery, fuel cells, electrolyzers, and related components. She previously served as Vice President and Chief Technical Officer where she was responsible for research and engineering across Cummins.
She moved to Cummins in 2000 and has worked in a variety of engineering roles across Cummins and product life cycle areas including advanced technology development, new product development, current product engineering and product quality.
Rumsey is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, Society of Automotive Engineers, and Women in Trucking Association. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Jigar Shah is Director of the US Department of Energy's Loans Program Office, which sanctions loans and provides guarantees for clean energy, advanced transportation and tribal energy projects within the US. The LPO has sanctioned more than $30 billion over the past decade, but last year's passage of the US Inflation Reduction Act has made Shah's role more important. The Act boosted funding for the LPO's existing programs by $100 billion, while adding another $250 billion to the LPO's kitty for the Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment program.
The amounts won't daunt Shah, who is a pioneer in the clean energy space: before heading the LPO, he was co-founder and President at Generate Capital, which offered decarbonization solutions through infrastructure-as-a service financing. He also founded SunEdison, which pioneered "pay as you save" solar financing. Shah holds a B.S. from the University of Illinois-UC and an MBA from the University of Maryland College Park.
Julia Souder is CEO of the Brussels-based Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) Council, a global non-profit that promotes long-duration energy storage to decarbonize the industry. With over 70 members from 19 countries, the council seeks to replace fossil fuels by accelerating the deployment of long duration energy storage.
It provides services such as guidance to governments and grid operators for deploying long duration energy storage to make electric grids net zero emitters by 2040. The council also provides education and advocacy services to promote adoption of long duration energy storage and accelerate carbon neutrality.
Souder, who has spent more than 20 years in the electricity industry, has deep knowledge of the relationships among utilities, states and government agencies, non-profits, advocates and other stakeholders. She holds a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Southern California and a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations from Oregon State University.
With more than 280 publications and 37,000 citations, Dr. Kai Zhu is a senior scientist in the Chemistry and Nanoscience Center at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) who focuses on material sciences. His current research interests span basic and applied research on perovskite solar cells, including perovskite material development.
Last year, he led a team of researchers that achieved a breakthrough in manufacturing perovskite solar cells, yielding devices with high efficiency and excellent stability. Dr. Zhu received his Ph.D. degree in Physics from Syracuse University in 2003, where he studied the electrical and optical properties and the device physics of solar cells based on amorphous-silicon thin films and dye sensitized mesoporous TiO2 films.
He was then a postdoctoral researcher for about one year at Kansas State University, working on III-nitride wide band gap semiconductors for high-power blue and ultraviolet light-emitting diodes.
Kunal Girotra is Founder and CEO of Lunar Energy, which he started in August 2020 to power homes around the world with clean energy. Last year, the company announced it had raised $300 million in funding from Sunrun and South Korea's SK Group and launched its first product, a home battery system. Till date, it has installed more than 77,000 systems storing more than 725 MWh of energy.
Prior to founding Lunar Energy, Girotra worked at Tesla Energy where he held several leadership positions in product, deployment and operations. From 2018 to March 2020, he was head of Tesla Energy, which makes the Powerwall. Girotra holds a Masters in Chemical Engineering from Stanford and began his career scaling hardware technologies from lab to production for both Fortune 500 companies and startups in consumer electronics and cleantech. He has 20 years of experience as an engineer, technology leader and entrepreneur.
Lars Carlstrom is the founder and CEO of Italian battery startup Italvolt and US based battery startup Statevolt. Italvolt will manufacture silicon batteries for electric vehicles in Europe in northern Italy. Statevolt is currently building a 54GWh giga factory in Imperial Valley, southern California. The broader goal of Carlstorm in building battery cell plants is to support economic regeneration, green industrialization, and create green jobs, in Italy and the United States.
An entrepreneur over 30 years of experience in the automotive sector, Carlstrom started Italvolt in 2021 with an aim to build the largest giga factory in Europe and one of the largest in the world in terms of size and production capacity (initial capacity to be up to 45GWh). Prior to Italvolt & Statevolt, Carlstrom founded Britishvolt in 2019 and held the position of CEO till 2021.
Le Thi Thu Thuy is serving as the Chief Executive Officer of the Vietnamese EV manufacturer VinFast, and Vice Chairwoman of Vingroup JSC. Thuy is best described as Vietnam's Elon Musk challenger, as she is spearheading the country's first-ever car brand to make electric scooters and premium electric cars in the country and export them for global markets. She was a vice-president at Lehman Brothers from 2000 to 2008 before, joining the Vingroup, where she is credited for the company's international
investments and partnerships feats.
VinFast is entering the competitive EV markets of US, Canada, and Europe this year. Further, the company has begun the construction of a $4 billion EV factory in the US state of North Carolina. This month, the company's shares are surging significantly, with its market value quadrupled to $160 billion in less than a week's period. Vinfast expects to sell as many as 50,000 electric vehicles this year.
Li Xiang is the Founder, CEO and the Chairman of the Board of the Chinese electric vehicle maker Li Auto. Li is responsible for the overall strategy, product design, business development and management of the emerging EV company, which began sales of its electric cars in December 2019 and completed the delivery of its 400,000 EVs in July this year. More so, Li Auto sold the last 100,000 vehicles in less than four months this year!
Prior to his own EV startup, Li served as a director of NIO Inc. for three years. He also served as an independent director of Beijing Siwei Tuxin Technology Co., and is also on the board of directors of several private companies. He has over 20 years of managerial experience in internet technology companies in China, including over 15 years of experience focusing on the automotive industry.
Marc Bedard is the serving as the CEO and member of the board of the Lion Electric Company (founded as Lion Bus in 2008). Based in Canada, Lion Electric is the biggest electric commercial vehicle manufacturer in the country, and one of the most emerging company in North America. The company's product includes electric school buses, midi buses, light trucks, semi-trucks, refuse trucks and so on. Marc founded the company with the objective to make advanced technology in the transportation industry accessible to all.
The Lion Electric secured a revenue of $200.47 million in the twelve months ending in June 2023, with 130.52 percent growth year-over-year. The company's revenue in the Q2 of this year was $58.02 million with 96.52 percent year-over-year growth. The automaker has more than 1,400 vehicles on the road to its credit, with over 14 million miles driven.
Robert Piconi is co-founder of Energy Vault and has served as the company's chief executive officer since 2022. The company develops and deploys utility-scale energy storage solutions with offerings the span proprietary gravity, battery, and green hydrogen energy storage. These are offered across time durations, with short, long and ultra-long duration solutions on offer. In addition, Energy Vault's solutions are supported by its hardware technology-agnostic energy management system software and integration platform, allowing clients to minimize levelized cost of energy.
Piconi has had a long and distinguished career across industries from telecommunications to healthcare; his energy experience includes the diversified energy group Amoco Corporation as well as British Petroleum after its merger with Amoco in 1998. Piconi holds a B.S./ B.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.
Roland Kaeppner leads all hydrogen and clean fuels initiatives and activities, supporting NEOM in its ambition to be the first at-scale region to be powered by 100 percent renewable and sustainable energy. He has been an advocate for a future hydrogen economy for more than a decade.
Prior to joining NEOM, he was Executive Vice President for Energy Storage and Hydrogen at thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions, where he established and led their electrochemical green hydrogen production and redox flow battery technology businesses.
Previously, Kaeppner has been Executive Member of the Board and CEO of Germany and Asia Pacific at McPhy Energy. Before that, he spent 13 years with Siemens Industrial Solutions in their industrial plant engineering business. Kaeppner holds degrees in Engineering from Polytechnic Aalen, the University of Manchester and the Management Center St.Gallen.
Thomas Speidel is the CEO of the Germany-based ADS-TEC Energy, which develops and manufactures battery storage solutions and fast charging systems including their energy management systems. The company has more than 10 years of experience of lithium-ion technologies, storage solutions, energy management software and fast charging systems to create a battery-buffered, fast charging technology. This enables electric vehicles to ultrafast charge even on low powered grids.
The company's battery-based, fast charging technology enables electric vehicles to ultrafast charge even on low powered grids and features a very compact design. This year, the company has achieved significant progress, registering a revenue of €38.3 million, an increase of 400 percent compared to H1 2022 and 140 percent compared to full year revenue for 2022.
Vaitea Cowan is the Co-founder of Enapter, a company that manufactures AEM electrolyzers that turn renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas. The company also got to demonstrate its device at COP26 in front of Bill Gates.
Cowan currently heads Enapter's communications. A dynamic personality, she connects people to scale green hydrogen and finds special projects to deploy Enapter's electrolyser technology. While her ambitions are defiantly global, her personal mission is to bring green hydrogen to the islands of the Pacific. She wants to create a world where green hydrogen is readily available — and fossil fuels are a thing of the past.
She was featured on the 'Forbes 30 Under 30' list for Energy in 2020. She also supported Enapter in winning the inaugural Earthshot Prize 'Fix Our Climate' 2021 launched by Prince William and The Royal Foundation. Cowan graduated from Concordia University, John Molson School of Business (Montreal).
Val Miftakhov is the Founder and CEO of ZeroAvia, an innovative technology company that is developing the one of the world's first practical zero emission aviation powertrain. Using hydrogen fuel cells, the company initially focuses on regional aircraft up to 80 seats with 500-mile range. The company's immediate aim is to powering 10-20 seat aircraft by 2025 and 40-80 seat by 2027.
This year, a Dornier 228 aircraft retrofitted with the company's prototype ZA600 hydrogen-electric engine underwent multiple trials successfully. ZeroAvia's unique approach results in much lower fuel and engine maintenance costs, with no harmful emissions.
A firm believer in electric transportation, Miftakhov previously headed eMotorWerks which is into developing smart grid-integrated EV Charging technologies with superior control latency and precision, centralized and autonomous grid response. Prior to that, he headed R&D in Google for Work Incubation.
Vikram Handa established Epsilon Advanced Materials in 2018 as an aspiring global supplier of cheap but high-quality synthetic graphite anode materials for use in Lithium-ion batteries. With its 100 percent backward integrated operations and presence across three continents, the company seeks to become the preferred supplier to battery manufacturers and energy storage device companies across the globe.
With the advent of the Government of India's ACC PLI scheme and maturation of cell manufacturing in the country, Handa's strategy of using locally sourced coal tar (a by-product of the steelmaking process) to make synthetic graphite materials critical to the battery supply chain has been recognized as a significant feat that boosts the fortunes of the sustainable battery cell industry. In 2022, Epsilon Advanced Materials also bagged orders from various global battery and materials firms in Europe and US for supply of synthetic anode materials.
Vincent Sprenkle has been at the forefront of efforts to improve energy storage capabilities since over a decade. A recognized leader in electrochemical energy conversion and storage, Sprenkle serves as the Director of the Grid Storage Launchpad, an R&D facility of the US Department of Energy at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Sprenkle and PNNL are developing next-generation storage solutions ranging from lower cost long-duration storage technologies, supporting development of safety codes and standards, validated performance testing, development of regulatory and planning models, and energy equity through energy storage.
Sprenkle, who was named the Distinguished Inventor of Battelle in 2017 and PNNL Inventor of the Year in 2014, holds 32 patents for his work on fuel cells, batteries, and electrochemical devices. He holds a B.S. in Ceramic Engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and a Ph.D. in Ceramic Engineering from the same university.
Li Zhenguo started LONGi in 2000. He is an expert in the transverse magnetic field regarding monocrystalline and has studied mono silicon, and engaged in related product development for many years. The decarbonizing technology developed by him has been widely used in the industry, and his research was financed by the national innovation fund for science and technology.
Li Zhenguo's contributions have earned him numerous accolades, including 'Innovator of China's Energy Industry' in 2016 and 'Forbes Best CEO in China' in 2021. With an academic foundation in semiconductor materials, Li Zhenguo graduated from Lanzhou University and did his MBA from Xi'an Jiaotong University. LONGi is one of the largest manufacturers of alkaline electrolyzers by manufacturing capacity (~500 MW/year) and offers the highest electrolyzer efficiency.