Bjarne Steffen

June 17: Bjarne Steffen, ETH Zurich, Moderated by Valerie J. Karplus, MIT Sloan School of Management.

"The Role of Finance in the Low-Carbon Energy Transition"

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Bjarne Steffen


Valerie Karplus
Speaker: Bjarne Steffen 
Senior Researcher and Lecturer,
Energy Politics Group, ETH Zurich

Moderator: Valerie J. Karplus,
Assistant Professor of Global Economics and Management,
MIT Sloan School of Management

About the Speaker: Bjarne Steffen is a senior researcher within the Energy Politics Group at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and a lecturer at the Institute of Science, Technology and Policy, also at ETH Zurich. His research addresses policies for low- carbon innovation. He is particularly interested in the role of financial actors (e.g., investors and banks) in the ongoing sustainable energy transition, and the role of the state in the finance and energy sectors more generally. To this end, he works at the intersection of economics, political science, and innovation studies. Bjarne was a visiting scholar at MIT's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, and worked for the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group. He holds a Master's in economics from the University of Mannheim and a PhD in energy economics from the University of Duisburg-Essen.

About the Moderator: Valerie J. Karplus is an Assistant Professor of Global Economics and Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management. She studies resource and environmental management in firms operating in diverse national and industry contexts, with a focus on the role of institutions and management practices in explaining performance. Karplus is an expert on China's energy system, including technology and business model innovation, energy system governance, and the management of air pollution and climate change. She works with a collaborative team of researchers to study the micro and macro determinants of clean energy transitions in emerging markets, with a focus on China and India. She holds a BS in biochemistry and political science from Yale University and a PhD in engineering systems from MIT.

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About the Talk: Given the magnitude of investment needs for clean energy infrastructure, the availability and cost of capital is crucial for successful energy transitions. For assets such as renewable energy projects that are typically realized in project finance structures, private banks play an important role, and public policy can take an active part in improving financing conditions. However, empirical research rarely addressed to role of financial actors and policies for the energy transition, and limited data e.g. on cost of capital is available for model-based research in the field. Drawing on recent work on several geographies (including Europe, Australia, and developing countries), the presentation covers new insights on drivers for the choice of financing structures, on how the cost of capital depends on technology maturity and experience in the finance industry, as well on how policy instruments like state investment banks can be used effectively. He will also discuss ongoing research to include finance into energy system modeling, and implications for research on the low-carbon energy transition more generally.