Hey all, as we kick off the new year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on 2019 and take a look forward. We’re entering a new decade, which is a momentous occasion – and at a time which is particularly delicately balanced. In the past few years, the impacts of a changing climate have shown the urgency of energy transformation – but carbon output continues to climb, and the restless global geopolitical climate has yet to converge on broad and decisive action.
The role of private sector innovation has never been more important. Dropping costs of renewables are finally beginning to drive a change in new energy investment, but the additional pressure on the current grid is producing negative impacts as well as opportunities. 2019 was the year in which California’s biggest utility intentionally cut power to millions of people during a critical fire danger event. As we head into 2020, an enormous area of Australia is on fire – both events driving home both the urgency of rapid climate action as well as the vulnerability of the grid system on which decarbonization depends.
If our plan is to electrify everything, and then decarbonize the grid – how can we ask people to put their trust for running their vehicles and heating their houses in a system which is critically vulnerable to the exact disasters we’re trying to mitigate?
The conversation for the past few years has been around mitigating the impact of renewables on the grid – but what we’re seeing, now, is that they may be our best opportunity to save it. No single technology is going to save us. For as much progress as we’ve made in renewables, storage, and policy, and for all the great technologies to come, we’re going to need a huge amount of system change in a very short time. That means that we need every available tool – renewable energy, nuclear, hydro, geothermal, hydrogen, storage, IoT – and we need to pull it all together. That’s a job for software. That’s where we can help.
Giving communities the tools they need to take control of their own energy destiny – taking advantage of energy which is cheap, clean, and local, in a connected environment which preserves the economies of scale and the public good of equal and universal access – is one of the most important things we can do to ensure a better future. Sometimes, the superpower that’s needed is the one you actually have.
About a year ago, in late 2018, Cody, Michael and I agreed to start a company to try to bring our expertise in building great software systems to this critical challenge, and along the way, each of you has bought yourselves and your skills and talents to that mission. We end 2019 much richer than we started it – with a great team, with customers who share our vision, and with partners who want to help us succeed. 2019 was an unexpected joy, with more traction and progress on big goals than I had hoped for, and we are headed into the new year with the best of starts.
As I think about the new decade, I’m excited at the massive opportunity ahead of us – but even more than that, I’m excited that we have a chance to play a small part in the most fundamental challenge the world is facing. Mr Rogers used to say that when things are scary, kids should “Look to the helpers. There’s always someone who’s helping.” Now is the time for us to be the helpers. And I’m so excited to be doing this with all of you.
With love, and welcome to 2020!