On March 2, 2023, the Milken-Motsepe Innovation Prize Program, in association with Global Innovation Catalyst, hosted a webinar on the state of green energy and opportunities for innovation in the sector. The webinar was moderated by Milken Institute Senior Director Emily Musil Church, PhD and featured panelists Jeff Marootian, Senior Advisor for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the United States Department of Energy, and Yolanda Mabuto, Managing Director Project Development at Genesis Energy in South Africa. Exclusive to Milken-Motsepe Prize Community members, the webinar highlighted the need for innovative solutions to address the world’s energy challenges.
Energy challenges are numerous and diverse, but so are opportunities
From access barriers to research and development costs to financial risks, both panelists stressed the global nature of energy challenges. Marootian noted that different communities face different challenges, and solutions must be tailored to the resources available in a given area. Speaking from South Africa, Mabuto noted the high costs associated with energy innovation and the need to advance social co-benefits of renewable energy to ensure a just transition. Still, Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies offer tremendous opportunities to address the sector’s challenges in socially inclusive, cost-effective, and ultimately transformative ways.
Collaboration is key to innovation
The panelists emphasized the importance of collaboration. Accessible, affordable energy is a universal need, but different communities bring different strengths and face different challenges. By taking diverse perspectives into account, entrepreneurs are better able to design solutions that can scale across communities and around the world. The most successful innovations often come from the most diverse teams, and the Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy encourages registrants to collaborate across sectors, countries, and demographics to find the best solution to the audacious 60kWh challenge.
Entrepreneurs play a crucial role in the energy transition
While the public sector can mobilize funding to mitigate financial risks of energy innovation, entrepreneurs bring creative perspectives to the fore. Responding to market needs allows entrepreneurs to design innovative solutions that can be tested, deployed, and scaled quickly. Operated by the Milken Institute, the Milken-Motsepe Innovation Prize Program injects the transformative power of philanthropic capital to supercharge this innovation. With public, private, and philanthropic sectors working together, the global energy transition starts to look a bit less daunting.
Design proposals for the $2 million USD Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy can be submitted until March 29. Please register on the portal here to submit your design and access the recording of the webinar.
Yolanda Mabuto is Managing Director Project Development at Genesis Energy in South Africa; she brings over a decade of experience at South Africa’s energy utility, Eskom, and an entrepreneurial perspective as the founder of Divaine Growth Solutions. Jeff Marootian is a Senior Advisor to United States Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and previously served as a Special Assistant to President Biden.