Janice Lin never dreamed when she was starting out in the clean energy sector that her work would lead to California making energy storage a critical tool in the state’s electric power system toolkit. With fourteen years of successful mission-driven entrepreneurship under her belt, she now sets her sights on solving big energy-sector challenges globally.
The Platinum award recipient for Entrepreneur of the Year, Lin is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Strategen, a California-based strategy professional services firm that specializes in market development for decarbonizing energy systems. (www.strategen.com) The company has grown into a global firm since Lin founded in 2005, and focuses on the platforms of consulting, association management, and events, such as Energy Storage North America (ESNA), the largest dedicated grid-connected storage event in North America.(www.esnaexpo.com)
A social entrepreneur before it was chic, Lin likes to push the envelope beyond where others believe she can go. “I’m attracted to hard problems that matter and have learned that you have to be unafraid to go where others haven’t gone before” says Lin. “I’m a very mission-driven person and strive for a world powered by renewable energy- so that is where my firm dedicates its efforts.”
Lin has become widely recognized as a chief advocate for energy storage, and frequently travels around the world sharing her passion for its deployment on the grid, often with the World Bank. In her decade-long role as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the California Energy Storage Association (CESA) (www.storagealliance.org), Lin acts as a self-described “Rabble-Rouser-in-Chief” where she uses her strong relationships with policy makers and other key stakeholders in the electricity sector to facilitate the development of multiple champions in unlikely places. “One new champion can have a multiplier effect on the course of history, so they are well worth cultivating.” says Lin.
Of course, building champions requires resources. Says Lin, “You have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help others. When you’re an advocate for something that’s not mainstream, that’s not typically where the money is, and it takes creativity to get sustainable funding.”
What’s Next in the Industry: Hydrogen as a Game Changer
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and is commercially utilized in multiple sectors today. Unfortunately, more than 99% of the hydrogen used today is derived from fossil fuels. There’s an opportunity to use “green hydrogen”, or hydrogen made from renewable sources such as solar power and water, to decarbonize these existing sectors as well as very hard to decarbonize sectors such as heavy-duty transportation, shipping, agriculture, steelmaking and air travel, among others.
To pursue this opportunity, Lin just launched the Green Hydrogen Council(GHC), an non-profit dedicated to advancing the use of green hydrogen to accelerate the transition to a carbon-free energy supply. (www.ghcouncil.org) The GHC’s goal is to accelerate the deployment of bankable green hydrogen projects at scale. The organization is looking to engage with industry incumbents to find ways to incorporate green hydrogen into existing business platforms and help them repurpose existing infrastructure.
Goals, Goals and More Goals
With so much work to, Janice and her team are thinking globally and broadening their scope. For example, Strategen opened its first international office this summer in Australia. In addition to green hydrogen, Strategen is also expanding its efforts to solve vehicle-grid integration challenges for electric vehicles, a growing sector that is helping decarbonize transportation.
“I’m honored to be recognized with the Cleanie award” says Lin, “however, the biggest honor was the opportunity to collaborate with so many inspiring, history-changing champions along the way. Bearing witness to their success is the greatest reward for a rabble rouser like me.”