FIVE with WOMEN IN CLEANTECH
FIVE with WOMEN IN CLEANTECH is a series of interviews with the women working in cleantech to share the many positive stories as this new sector grows beyond the conventional energy industry.
Farewell to a Cleantech Champion
On November 24, 2013 the clean energy future lost a young, vibrant spirit in Kelly de la Torre. Kelly’s ideas and passion fueled her efforts to advance cleantech initiatives and emerging technologies on four fronts: as an attorney focused on finding solutions to market and regulatory barriers stalling clean energy development; penning her Rocky Mountain Energy Blog; co-hosting Energy 101; and founding and supporting the Board of Women in Energy, Inc., a non-profit founded to facilitate communication and mentorship among women in the energy industry. To this she added Fellow in the NREL Executive Energy Leadership Program in April of this year, and couldn’t wait to “leverage the heck out of that.”
Kelly and I first met at the inaugural U.S. C3E Symposium in September 2012. We easily started a dialogue there on how we could combine forces in order to help cleantech start-ups enter the marketplace, advance women working in the industry, and collaborate to help build each other’s businesses. Kelly was inspiring. A part of her professional legacy will be the solid foundation she left behind for us to expand upon—particularly those working to move the world closer to a clean energy future faster. Her “go get’em” approach and spirited encouragement were, and will remain, a catalyst and reminder to embrace one’s, and my own, passion.
This past summer, in preparation to launch Five with Women in Cleantech, a column featuring women working in cleantech, I sat down to talk with Kelly. It was in the midst of preparing a piece to be published through a series of interviews with the talented women of C3E that Kelly and I had met. Before I could write my final piece on Kelly, I first had to say good-bye. I didn’t want to dilute our conversation or Kelly’s answers. So I decided to leave it just as it had happened, poignant and unfettered, just like my friend Kelly.
ii: What influences or considerations have shaped your perspective and approach to clean energy?
KDLT: My graduate work was done at Sandia Laboratory designing biopneumatic catalysts that were attached to a tailpipe to capture carbon and turn it into another source. I began to wonder what the political implications would be if we could actually achieve this. Then I read Daniel Yergin’s book, The Prize. In law school, I started approaching the technology side from the perspective of, “How do we get these technologies into the marketplace?” In order to do this, we have to understand where they fit into the overall energy landscape; we can’t just understand a clean technology, we need to know how it will influence the landscape through introduction. How do the pieces fit together?
FIVE with WOMEN IN CLEANTECH
ii: You were recently accepted into the NREL Executive Energy Leadership Program. What do you hope to gain from participating?
KDLT: Much of my experience is focused on looking at the marketplace and identifying where these technologies could develop a market niche, where the technology is protected, and how to use IP to build value in a company to define the market niche. In addition to learning what NREL is working on in the lab, I want to understand what technologies and companies NREL is spinning out of their laboratory. My hope is to leverage my knowledge of the energy landscape, along with the Board of Women in Energy and Energy 101, to step in and help these companies begin the conversations they need to move into market…and maybe even help change the energy landscape.
ii: What keeps you up at night?
KDLT: I feel, coming from my across the board approach, that if we don’t make some changes things are going to come to a head. If you look at project development, there needs to be certainty that there will be a purchaser for the project, and it hangs on the regulatory environment. If there isn’t any certainty we will reach a crisis which leads to haphazard decision-making. The lack of planning is what keeps me up at night. And it makes me nervous.