EcoGeneration talks to environmental and social scientist, financier and media commentator Jemma Green.
I got my first big break in the renewables industry halfway through my 11 years working as an investment banker in London. I was studying part time, completing a postgraduate diploma in sustainability at Cambridge University. Having shown an interest in the subject, I was asked to help set up J.P. Morgan’s Global Environmental and Social Risk Management office. While working full time, I completed two postgraduate diplomas and a Masters in Sustainability at Cambridge. I then decided to return to Perth.
Back home in Perth, I am a founding board director and shareholder of Future Super, Australia’s first fossil fuel-free superannuation fund. I work in a pro bono capacity on the Advisory Boards of Carbon Tracker and 1 Million Women. I started a consultancy called The Green Enterprise to provide strategic advice around commercial sustainability trends. I work part time as a Research Fellow at Curtin University. In October, I was elected as an independent councillor at the City of Perth.
My doctorate revolves around disruptive innovation. I looked at developing solar and battery storage in strata developments. Although we have 1.4 million households with rooftop solar, there are hardly any in strata housing because they are often tenanted. Investors and owners don’t want to invest in solar because it only benefits the tenants. My idea was to develop a solar storage microgrid where tenants pay electricity bills to the strata company instead of the utility, so that this becomes a supplementary income stream for landlords on top of rent and an additional justification for solar and batteries. It’s an Australian first.
As Perth City Council councillor, I’m passionate about contributing to Perth’s liveability and economic diversification. When companies decide where to set up offices, they make their decisions based on how easy it is to attract talent; this is helped by liveable city infrastructure such as light rail, walkability, trees, and other amenities. Perth has a resources industry, and that’s fantastic, but we need to build resilience and diversification into our economy.
I juggle everything that I do by thinking of my roles as a series of small tasks that I perform every day. My passion gives me energy and motivates me. Thanks to the support of my amazing husband, I am able to do the work that I do. My motto is: Be kind. Be fearless. Be flexible. Be persistent. And above all, be yourself.
I see my top achievement as overcoming the barriers to solar storage microgrid for strata developments in Australia. There were more than 150 developers at our inaugural launch, hosted by The Property Council and LandCorp. Because of the interest generated by the project, we’re now doing large-scale trials. People want to deploy this to the mainstream.
Women are key to the climate change solution. 1 Million Women is a fantastic charity that shows how women have a lot of power because they are the ones primarily in charge of purchasing decisions. Spending patterns and habits can change the emissions reduction outcome.
Renewables is now a relevant conversation for investors. As countries implement more restrictions on carbon emissions and markets move to renewables, the valuation of companies will be impacted. The question we have to answer is: which businesses are most at risk and what does it mean for investors tied to those assets? This has now moved into mainstream financial analysis and is a material risk factor.
Australia is uniquely placed to position itself at the leading edge of what’s going on around the transformation of the energy system. We have lots of sun, high electricity prices and the cost of buying renewables is cheaper than America due to our proximity to China.
The part of the Australian renewables industry that most excites me is storage – it has been the missing link for renewables. We’ve only been able to have solar power when the sun is shining. What storage offers is 24/7 renewable power. This is a game-changer.
My role models areChristiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention, and Elon Musk, Tesla’s Founder and Chief Executive.
If I wasn’t in my role, I would intermix my passion for energy with stints that involve living in Italy, learning how to cook all the regional dishes and hiking to work off the food!