Originally published on the ECOreport.
Sungevity cofounder Danny Kennedy will cease to be executive vice president on September 1st, and will officially become the company’s strategic consultant for the next six months. He will most likely continue to be an unofficial advisor for much longer than that. “Danny will always be part of the family and will remain a close advisor to the company,” said John Ordoña, Sungevity’s Vice President of Communications. Kennedy will become Managing Director of the nonprofit clean energy investment fund CalCEF. In other words, Danny Kennedy is starting something new.
The Clean Energy Sector Is Growing
“We’ve experienced exponential growth since he cofounded the company with his two partners, company CEO Andrew Birch, a former investment banker and business development executive, and Alec Guettel, a social entrepreneur,” said Ordoña.
The company had four employees when it started in 2007; now there are over 1,000 working in the United States and Europe.
“Danny always had a vision to accelerate the growth of the whole industry, and with CalCEF he can focus on that,” said Ordoña.
“Sungevity and the clean energy sector are growing faster and generating jobs at a much greater rate than any other part of the economy. Consumer demand and technological innovations are driving this growth, but the barriers of a century-old system built around centralized fossil fuel generation are slowing capital flow and growth,” said Kennedy, in a news release.
Kennedy continued, “My goal in coming to CalCEF is to continue to help shape an abundant economy where the benefits of clean energy accrue to all, here and around the world. We are not just replacing dirty fuels and combating climate change, we are building a new global economy where clean energy is affordable and accessible to everyone.”
For Over Two Decades
Kennedy has worked in the climate change and clean energy movement for over two decades and is an internationally recognized opinion leader on environmental issues. Kennedy wrote Rooftop Revolution, How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy–And Our Planet–From Dirty Energy (a book that has been described as the clean energy manifesto for the next greatest generation).
Prior to cofounding Sungevity, he was a campaigns manager with Greenpeace, the largest independent, direct-action, environmental organization in the world. Kennedy managed Greenpeace’s California Clean Energy Campaign, which helped create the California Solar Initiative, a groundbreaking renewable energy program that ushered in the state’s solar energy boom.
Kennedy also cofounded Sfuncube, the world’s first solar-focused incubator and accelerator, according to Ordoña.
Kennedy also serves on the board of the Solar Foundation, a global research and education organization in Washington, DC, and was a founding board director of Mosaic, a solar investment startup in Oakland, CA.
Kennedy’s Role with Sungevity
Sungevity grew out of a vision to advance solar energy through the use of innovative software such as the company’s pioneering remote solar design technology and the ease and accessibility of the Internet.
Kennedy is credited with helping to establish Sungevity’s business model, as well as securing key angel and venture round investors at the onset.
As part of Sungevity’s leadership role in the solar movement, Kennedy spearheaded the “Solar on the White House” campaign in 2010 that resulted in a decision by the Obama administration to place solar panels on the First Family residence.
Most recently, Kennedy has been focusing on driving Sungevity’s international market development in Europe.
He also forged a diverse mix of business partnerships for Sungevity, including more than 100 nonprofit and campaigning organizations, among the likes of Sierra Club and CREDO, that have raised over $1.5 million since 2010 for Sungevity’s nonprofit partners. And, he charted the course for Sungevity’s distinct brand identity and corporate culture.
Danny Kennedy is Starting Something New
“His passion has always been to advance the entire sector. Now that Kennedy’s vision for Sungevity is being realized, it is a good time for him to focus on growing the sector through investment in other businesses, hence his move to CalCEF,” said Ordoña.
Kennedy’s new venture, CalCEF, is an evergreen fund that invests in new companies, products, and ventures that are overcoming critical market barriers or ignite the rapid deployment of clean energy technologies.
Among CalCEF’s accomplishments are:
- Creating the first clean energy venture capital evergreen fund-of-funds and seed stage fund, with early positions in over 40 companies and over $1.5 billion co-invested
- Establishing the nation’s first academic center for energy efficiency at UC Davis, and partnering with San Jose State to create the first Masters in Engineering with an emphasis in batteries
- Incubating clean energy companies, such as Renewable Energy Trust Capital, a company pioneering innovative and low-cost financing for grid-scale wind and solar projects that now owns generating capacity of more than 200 MW DC
- Founding CalCharge, a public-private consortium to drive breakthrough battery technology, which provides access for start-ups to corporate giants to the three U.S. Department of Energy national labs in the Bay Area. Members include leading global technology supplier Bosch and automotive leader Toyota Motor Corporation
Photo Credits: 1) Sungevity cofounders at a weekend work session in the early years of the company. Pictured from left to right: Alec Guettel, Danny Kennedy and Andrew Birch; 2) Installing solar panels on the White House – from this video; 3) Danny Kennedy & Sungevity CEO Andrew Birch at the opening of the company’s Jack London Square offices in 2010; 4) Sungevity cofounder Danny Kennedy speaks at Global Green USA’s Annual Millennium Awards at Fairmont Miramar Hotel on June 8, 2013 in Santa Monica, California.
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