Three People. Two Questions. One Degree. – Focus on Alternative Energy
Our Master of International Business alumni step out of Fletcher into fascinating careers across sectors and geographies. Our new series, “Three People. Two Questions. One Degree.,” features MIB alumni working in a common industry who bring a unique Fletcher perspective to their organizations. Through a pair of questions, they look back at their time at Fletcher and forward to the future:
Christopher Hickey '13
Enel Green Power
Business Development Director
Ravi Manghani '10
Director, Energy Storage
Alexander Schulte '16
Director, Business Development
- What did you learn at Fletcher that is most relevant to your career today?
- How has the outlook for alternative energy changed over the past few years?
Christopher Hickey ’13 – Enel Green Power
“The most critical aspect of my Fletcher education was not actually one specific class or subject, but rather the way that we were taught to think critically as MIBs and Fletcher students more generally. I face a variety of challenges in my career and being able to evaluate issues from multiple perspectives has allowed me to come up with creative solutions in an effective manner.
In the years since I’ve been grappling with these issues, renewable energy has evolved from a niche market to a mainstream market. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about half of utility-scale electricity generation capacity installed in 2017 came from renewable energy, with wind and solar the main sources. A big driver of this growth is the fundamental competitiveness of renewable technology and the value proposition it offers utilities, rater payers, corporate customers, and local communities. It’s exciting to see where this growth in the industry goes over the coming years.”
Ravi Manghani ’10 – Greentech Media
“The biggest thing I learned at Fletcher that’s relevant to my career is the ability to look at and analyze the clean energy transition as not just a business or technology question, but also as diplomacy, trade, and policy issue. The breadth of offered courses – such as corporate finance, infrastructure finance, strategic management, environmental economics, and climate policy – along with the freedom to tailor our own educational experience through class projects, independent study, cross-registration, and capstone thesis, definitely made the Fletcher experience unique and extremely satisfying.
As for how the alternative energy industry has changed since I graduated, where do I start?! Alternative energy has come such a long way since my time at Fletcher that it’s no longer fair to label it as ‘alternative.’ Solar and wind have become a mainstay in the U.S., repeatedly breaking their own records set the previous year, and becoming one of the largest new capacities on the grid. A lot of this growth wouldn’t have been possible without spectacular cost improvements and technological breakthroughs, but what’s often ignored is the role policymaking has played in establishing renewable technologies onto today’s grid. Energy storage and electric vehicles – technologies close to my line of work – have also made tremendous strides in recent years. Energy storage may become a gigawatt-hour market in the U.S. this year, and electric vehicles crossed the 1% of all new car sales mark last year. With ongoing technological improvements, and markets pushing toward the Paris climate goals and beyond, these technologies have a bright future.”
Alexander Schulte ’16 – Bluewave Solar
“A number of classes I took while at Fletcher laid the groundwork for my career, but two stood out. Project finance and infrastructure management provided an understanding of the different stakeholders in involved in developing a successful solar project, including not just different types of investors but, crucially, regulators, governments at different levels, voters, electricity off-takers, etc. The clean energy classes I took also gave me a good foundation in the types of policies that shape the business models that drive the deployment of solar energy.
In the industry itself, the primary drivers of the deployment of solar energy are cost relative to alternatives, the level of acceptance from investors and customers, and the amount of policy support. All three of these have seen dramatic shifts recently. The cost of solar energy continues to plummet as the industry gains scale and technology improves, and the level of acceptance continues to grow as more people learn about and come to trust various solar solutions. The direction of policy has been less unidirectional than these other drivers in the past few years, but many in the industry are starting to feel more and more confident that we will soon pass a tipping point in which clean energy technologies will be able to compete in most places without the same level of policy support it has required to date. That’s something to look for in the next couple of years.”