Meet the rising stars who are taking on the $1.9 trillion energy industry and cleaning up the electrical grid

From left to right: Joel Jean of Swift Solar, Etosha Cave of Opus 12, Brenden Millstein of Carbon Lighthouse, and Christine Ho of Imprint Energy.Justin Knight/Swift Solar; Etosha Cave/Opus 12; Imprint Energy; Carbon Lighthouse; Yuqing Liu/Business Insider
  • An enormous transition is underway across the electric grid.
  • Power plants that run on fossil fuels are being replaced by solar panels and wind farms and more batteries and electric vehicles are plugging in every day.
  • Once niche, the clean energy industry is going mainstream. Goldman Sachs says it's an investment opportunity worth as much as $16 trillion through 2030.
  • Within the industry, researchers, entrepreneurs, and workers are bringing a wide range of solutions to bear, from batteries that store energy in molten salt to water turbines that are fish-friendly.
  • Business Insider has identified the 21 emerging leaders in clean energy that we think everyone should know.

The global energy industry is in the middle of an epic transition, away from fossil fuels and towards clean sources of energy.

This year, for example, the US is set to generate more electricity from renewable sources than from coal for the first time in history. Meanwhile, 2020 is also expected to be a record year for solar power, and energy storage installations including batteries are set to double.

This transition, though ultimately motivated by the threat of climate change, has created an enormous economic opportunity.Advertisement

Clean energy was the target of more than $600 billion of investment last year, relative to investment in the broader energy industry of about $1.9 trillion, according to the International Energy Agency. And looking forward, Goldman Sachs says renewable energy is an investment opportunity worth as much as $16 trillion, through 2030.

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It's now undeniable that the industry is going mainstream. In the US alone, it's home to more than 2.5 million workers employed within an expansive corporate landscape that has startups that store energy in molten salt on one end and solar giants like Sunrun deploying droves of rooftop panels on the other.
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That's why we embarked on this project, a showcase of the rising stars of clean energy — 21 people quickly making a name for themselves within the industry, who we think everyone should know.

These rising stars, identified by experts as emerging leaders within the industry, are taking a bite of this $600 billion market while promising massive gains for the environment. Dandelion Energy's Kathy Hannun, for example, has found carbon savings in holes dug under homes in the Northeast. Swift Solar's Joel Jean, on the other hand, is designing a new generation of hyper-efficient solar panels. Advertisement

Click here to meet the rising stars of clean energy

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