7 April 2021

Our Vision for the Next 5 Years

Today we are delighted to release Elemental’s Five Year Strategy, a roadmap to scale climate and social equity solutions. Along with our refreshed brand identity, this plan outlines how our team is evolving to both deepen and expand our impact, and further unlock entrepreneurs as a powerful force to address climate change and social inequity.

Why release this now?

There are 5 trends that are creating a unique window of opportunity:

  1. Climate science tells us that we have to halve our emissions by 2030.
  2. With the decreasing cost of technology and the rise of software, it is the best time in history to start a climate tech company.
  3. Consumers and corporations alike are creating new market demand for clean technologies.
  4. Policy opens access to and increases the size of markets, and drives margins for clean technologies; and now, much of the world is moving in the same direction on climate action.
  5. Science, technology, policy, and markets only take us so far. What is often missing from the discussion around climate change are the communities where all of these forces intersect.

Scaling Climate x Social Equity Solutions

I’m sure you’ve all had this experience — when you try something new, it sounds crazy. People shake their heads and say, “This is impossible; there is no way it can be done.” And 5 or 10 years later, the tone is a little different: “Of course; this is just how we do it.”

We feel this way about our work at Elemental. We see the world as it is, and the world as it could be. We use insights from working on the ground deploying technology with our portfolio companies to understand where the forces of the market are working, and what needs to change to create a more equitable and resilient future. We’ve witnessed this dynamic a number of times over the last 12 years — for example with the solar Power Purchase Agreement, a financial instrument that enabled people to buy solar for no money down. We saw this with the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, which aspired to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045. We were told it was a pipe dream, and now the state is well ahead of schedule to reach that target — and clean energy projects are a key element of putting people to work following the pandemic.

And now we’re seeing the beginnings of the same story at the intersection of climate and social equity. We’re told that the problem is too big, that building for equity will slow down progress toward our climate goals. But we know that this is not true. As a non-profit we have the ability to help start this enormous flywheel of change, and combine government, philanthropic, and corporate dollars to push the flywheel forward with our equity-first approach. Through deployment and proving it’s possible, in 10 years the flywheel will be spinning and people will say, “Of course every climate deployment has an equity component; it’s just how we do it.”

This strategy shares how we will work over the next 5 years, and how we will change to meet this moment. We will continue to grow and invest in our core, and also expand in targeted areas and build one-to-many platforms that will enable us to amplify what we’re learning and empower others.

We hope you’ll join us to bring this future closer.

With aloha,
Dawn