Founder of Nexus Discusses How Technology Can Transform the Energy Landscape
The Business of Sustainability Initiative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business recently hosted Sargon Daniel (B’04), founder of Nexus Renewable Power, for the inaugural Business of Sustainability Speaker Series event to discuss solar energy, energy storage, and how these technologies can transform the energy landscape. Şafak Yücel, assistant professor of operations management, moderated the conversation.
“Through this event, we seek to highlight the thought of leaders who are doing distinguished work in sustainable business,” Agrawal said. “This event is meant to provide you with an opportunity to network across the various programs that are interested in sustainable business.”
Nexus Renewable Power, LLC, is a Texas-based solar and storage developer and an independent power producer. Nexus currently is developing over 1,000MW of solar and storage assets throughout Texas, with over 10,000 acres of land secured. Before founding Nexus, Daniel was a shareholder at Winstead PC and a founding member of Greenbacker Renewable Energy Corporation.
“It is a privilege to be back on Hilltop to elaborate more on my journey, which combines a law degree with a business approach where solar energy has always had a powerful presence as an integral part of my professional path,” said Daniel.
During the discussion, Yücel asked Daniel how he first became engaged with the sustainable energy sector and how his engagement in this area has evolved over the years.
“I have always had an interest in energy. I grew up in Texas, where oil and gas are kings, and then I went to law school, and I ended up focusing on energy,” said Daniel. “I was trying to understand how to build a business with the assets, connections, and relationships I already have.”
Daniel eventually focused his career on sustainable solar energy in 2009 and became a founding member of Greenbacker. With a background in law and business, he sought new ways to make the business case for sustainability through an intentional financial structure that both helps the environment and serves a company’s bottom line. This idea eventually formed the framework of Nexus.
“The question was: How do we build a financial structure to be able to build a sustainable asset? Thus, we moved from the point of acquiring assets to developing them, and this was how Nexus launched. It has been a 12-year process, and the journey continues,” said Daniel.
Daniel shared more about the types of assets that Greenbacker, his initial fund, was interested in, which primarily included solar and wind. “We started looking at solar. Within renewable energy, we did solar on utility- and residential-scale as well as wind and biomass. It was a mix of things at that time,” said Daniel. “We kept shifting between solar and wind because those assets made the most sense to us. We were North American focused.”
Yücel asked Daniel about his approach to Nexus and his areas of focus after his Greenbacker experience.
“We think very narrowly at Nexus. We capitalize on our strengths: Identifying and analyzing the grid in addition to acquiring and developing land. We do solar and storage. We prefer deregulated markets,” said Daniel.
Daniel also acknowledged the challenges he’s faced and overcome in the sustainability industry.
“This is a new industry. We are building assets with 35-year useful lives based on technology changing every 18 months,” said Daniel. “In ERCOT, Every five minutes, we get a new dynamic electricity price, and sometimes that price spikes. We need to pick a point on the grid where that new price that comes every five minutes is reasonably predictable vis-a-vis the broader market, and hopefully, we get a return on our capital. Add to these challenges the type of land which should be sunny, flat, and, ideally, developed without opposition from the local community.”
Toward the end of the discussion, Daniel highlighted the significance of having a robust network and making choices based on personal values.
“I started my career as a lawyer; I initially thought I would be an investment banker, and I kept checking boxes until I stopped to consider what types of work I truly wanted to pursue,” he said. “It is important to be surrounded by people who care about you, and you care about them. My journey was a long path of exploration and self-awareness; a journey guided by where I place my personal values and ensuring the work I do is important to the world.”