Q&A with National Grid Partners Director Raghuram Madabushi

With more money being put behind clean and climate tech companies, National Grid Partners’ Raghu Madabushi shares how they will pave the way to net zero

One of the world’s most active utility venture capitals, National Grid Partners — the venture investment and innovation arm of National Grid – was an official partner of the COP28 summit in Dubai last year and is a key player when it comes to uniting utilities and startups to tackle net-zero goals.

The company, with Director Raghu Madabushi at the helm, has a sharpened investment focus to accelerate net zero progress. He has more than two decades of experience in investing in companies in the decarbonisation and enterprise infrastructure verticals.

Madabushi is a Kauffman Fellow with a keen interest in decarbonisation and decentralisation. Acknowledging the world around us — currently marred by conflict — can act as a net-zero catalyst, he feels the situation across the likes of Israel and Ukraine, which is disrupting supply chains and driving up costs, is posing more of a consequential impact than the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite this maybe posing a set back for the clean energy transition, it also could be leveraged as a time of opportunity.

Here, Madabushi explains what’s on the horizon for climate tech and clean tech companies, and how they will continue to play a defining role in the transition toward net zero.

Q. Do you feel this is a defining time for clean tech and climate tech?

Absolutely. We’re seeing strong tailwinds coming from COP28 this past year, where more than 190 governments agreed to triple renewables by 2030 and move away from fossil fuels. Moreover, the world in conflict is a net zero catalyst. With active warfare from Israel to Ukraine to the Red Sea disrupting supply chains and driving up costs, the clean energy transition is facing a forcing function even more consequential than the pandemic. It could be a massive setback or a massive acceleration, depending on whether utilities and investors embrace the opportunity. It’s also a big year for elections around the world, which will lead to new policies with direct impacts on innovation and climate tech. 

Q. What do you think will be key drivers in working towards a greener future?

Government policy can play a vital role moving us in the right direction. The Inflation Reduction Act in the US has accelerated innovation and helped scaled new technologies from electric cars to electrolysers. New technologies that can scale and compete without deep subsidies will win the long-term economics against incumbents. We also believe more governments will follow the lead of the EU and California with emissions disclosure mandates, which in turn will drive more climate-friendly policies among corporations. And we’re already seeing new policies like carbon taxes in the EU stimulating new markets for green materials. 

Q. Are there any key strategies or initiatives that you feel will spearhead change moving forward?

There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to meet the United Nations’ pledge to reach net zero by 2050, and now it's showtime for companies to meet the ambitious goals they publicly announced. Additionally, the recent pledge made at COP28 to triple renewables — along with the Inflation Reduction Act — creates big momentum for energy investors, as startups in the sector are poised to break out. 

Q. What key changes do you think will need to take place to ensure that the industry and wider world puts its best foot forward regarding energy and climate?

The answer is simple — clean tech needs to scale in order to bring down prices and increase demand. Most people make consumer decisions based on affordability, and many clean options are still more expensive than their non-clean counterparts. Keeping our foot on the accelerator with policy support, investor pressure and innovation are essential to continue driving down prices and increasing adoption. 

Q. Do you feel optimistic about the future of energy when it comes to net zero and decarbonisation efforts?

Absolutely. The biggest companies and governments on the planet actively care about decarbonisation and that’s a significant difference from where we were just five years ago. And we’re seeing an explosion of startup innovation helmed by experienced leaders who lived through the Cleantech 1.0 cycle and have internalised those lessons. 

We’ve never been in a better position to tackle climate change for once and for all.


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