A software tool that assesses the greenhouse gas reduction potential of new technologies is being developed collaboratively by Prime Coalition, Rho AI, Greenometry, Clean Energy Trust, and Project Drawdown. The tool, known as CRANE ("Carbon Reduction Assessment of New Enterprises"), is an online, open-source software tool that makes climate impact assessment of early-stage companies less labor-intensive, as well as more data-driven, transparent, and standardized. The project is being supported by grants from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority ("NYSERDA"), and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center ("MassCEC").
CRANE will receive methodological input and guidance from an Academic Advisory Group with members that include Ellen Williams at the University of Maryland, Todd Cort at Yale University, Benjamin Leibowicz at the University of Texas at Austin, Beth Zotter at Cyclotron Road, Granger Morgan at Carnegie Mellon University, and Michael Wilshire at BloombergNEF. The project will also establish a User Group to inform the design of the tool itself with contributors that include Wells Fargo Foundation, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, The Roda Group, Elemental Excelerator, Grantham Environmental Trust, NYSERDA, MassCEC, Launch NY, and others.
CRANE builds on a methodology developed by Prime Coalition and NYSERDA that defines the potential for an early-stage venture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the future: Emissions Reduction Potential ("ERP"). The impetus to develop this methodology stemmed from the realization that current impact measurement solutions are designed to retroactively assess the climate impacts that have already occurred versus being designed to make forward-looking assessments on what might be possible in the future. Details of the methodology were published in a report in January 2018 (link), "Climate Impact Assessment for Early-Stage Ventures."
"It is imperative that our global financial resources are directed efficiently toward market-driven solutions to climate change. CRANE's goal is to help many different types of investors do just that within their own organizational constraints," explains Sarah Kearney, Prime's Founder and Executive Director. "Today, assessing the ERP of early-stage companies is time-consuming and labor-intensive, there is no standard report that easily slots ERP calculations into investment decision-making, and the use of wrong or outdated information, non-standard calculation methods, or undocumented assumptions leads to miscommunication and inefficient appropriation decisions from the standpoint of the public good."
CRANE will allow users to view the estimated annual and cumulative ERP for a new technology, and the calculations, assumptions, and data that produced that result. The tool will also allow users to compare market penetration scenarios for a product and to calculate multi-year ERP estimates. CRANE will not produce forecasts or a specific number to expect from a given company, but it will provide a range of ERP scenarios and assess the sensitivity of various input assumptions. A beta version of CRANE is expected in Q4 2019 and the initial public release is slated for early 2020.
Alicia Barton, President and CEO at NYSERDA said, "Governor Cuomo's nation-leading clean energy and climate goals prioritize accelerating innovation at an unparalleled pace. To continue spurring that effort, New York is providing significant funding as direct investments and commercialization support for early-stage clean energy businesses. NYSERDA intends to use CRANE as part of our enhanced pre-investment due diligence process and post-investment for portfolio management and tracking against our targets." The CRANE tool is designed for use by leading early-stage clean energy investors including NYSERDA, which is investing nearly $800 million primarily in pre-Series B companies over 10 years, and NYSERDA-supported organizations such as Launch NY, which operates one of NYSERDA's six incubators across the state.
CRANE users may include investors, government agencies, venture development organizations, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs who support or represent early-stage (Pre-Seed through Series B) companies that promise reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. In some cases, users may want to use the potential climate impact of a new venture as part of their decision-making process about whether to invest. Users may also want to use climate impact assessment as a tool in their reporting after an investment is made, or as a way to position their own company for investment.
Josh Browne, Founder at Rho AI, is eager to bring best-in-class practices from data science and software development to CRANE. Josh explains that "we have all data sources and modeling techniques we need to build CRANE, and our hope is that the tool will save investors time by providing a rigorous, transparent assessment of any new venture that might help to mitigate climate change."
For more information about CRANE as it rolls out in the second half of 2019 and early 2020, please visit www.cranetool.org.
About Clean Energy Trust:
Clean Energy Trust, established in 2010 as a 501(c)(3) public charity, pursues the mission of advancing sustainable technology innovation by finding, funding, and growing high potential sustainable technology startups in the mid-continent region of the United States. Learn more at cleanenergytrust.org.
About Project Drawdown:
Project Drawdown is a 501(c)(3) research and communications organization that serves as the world's leading source of climate change solutions. Learn more at drawdown.org.
Greenometry is a nonprofit advisory firm dedicated to promoting a low-carbon economy through quantitative thinking and metrics that empower individuals and organizations to channel their resources effectively.
About Prime Coalition:
Prime Coalition is a 501(c)(3) public charity based in Cambridge, MA that partners with philanthropists to support market-driven solutions to climate change. Learn more at primecoalition.org.
About Rho AI:
Rho AI is a C-Corporation based in Evanston, WY. Rho AI is a highly skilled, fully distributed team that builds customized data science products and provides services to solve real-world problems.
Executive Director, Prime Coalition