Special thanks to Lou Perwein, MBA’09, for his generous 3-to-1 match to endow the Stacia L. Wood Social Impact Summer Grants (SISG) and to all the donors who helped us reach our $100,000 goal to ensure that impactful internship experiences like the one featured below will continue.
Learn more about how the SISG award enabled Andrew Slaughter, MBA 2020, to partner with two local entrepreneurs to better understand the supply chain landscape and current investment environment for renewable energy.
SISG Supported My Non-Traditional Internship by Andrew Slaughter
During summer 2019, I applied for the Social Impact Summer Grant (SISG) award to pursue a personal entrepreneurial venture focused on increasing renewable energy technology deployment and improving educational opportunities in relation to consumer electric power choices. I am a third-year, dual-degree Master of Business Administration and Master of Environmental Management candidate with an entrepreneurship and energy technology concentration respectively. Through my dual-degree graduate curriculum, I began to notice a shift in electric infrastructure pricing that made solar energy technology cost-competitive with traditional, fossil fuel technologies (e.g. coal). I leveraged this education to evaluate markets ideal for the expansion of solar energy use and investigate the economic forces that would make renewable energy development more scalable in a larger number of regions.
With help from the SISG award, I was able to partner with two local entrepreneurs to better frame the supply chain landscape and the investment environment for renewable energy. The first collaborator is an international solar developer focused on building large-scale (i.e. megawatts of installed capacity) solar farms in developing markets. The second collaborator started a renewable energy investment firm in the Research Triangle called Leyline Renewable Capital that aims to provide bridge funding for capital renewable energy projects. In this role, Leyline Renewable Capital is able to impact a larger number of projects with more concrete return potential. The firm is also exposed to a wide variety of renewable energy solutions. For example, Leyline recently provided funding for the final stage of a biodigester that converts excrement from a large-scale chicken production facility to natural gas (ng) for immediate use in the US ng pipeline infrastructure. These collaborators both inspired and encouraged my foray into new concepts of renewable energy development through advice and stories of their experiences in the field.
The SISG award offered me an opportunity to think less about the financial constraints associated with pursuing an entrepreneurial venture so that I had more flexibility to give the process my undivided attention. With this ability for nuanced focus, I’ve been able to do extensive research in energy markets and conduct a cost analysis of energy technology components. From this point I was able to model the base financial cost of my business concept based on a range of consumer electricity use levels. The somewhat complex nature of energy markets required that I consider a large number of variables of electricity production including, but not limited to, regional weather components, locational electricity pricing, standard consumer electricity use and the impacts built infrastructure has on electricity use in a region. The SISG award and the resulting professional flexibility gave me the time required to teach myself a computing language complex enough to simulate my theoretical business model (i.e. Python) with consideration of the wide range of contributing variables across different time horizons.
I am grateful that the SISG award allowed me to try a non-traditional internship approach to my MBA summer internship.