#HeroesofFreeingEnergy: Gabriela Herculano

“My dad has a PhD in political science. My mom has a PhD in sociology and she used to do a lot of research on environmental justice. I disappointed my parents deeply, in a way, because after college I said, ‘No, I’m not getting a PhD. I’m getting an MBA in finance. I’m going to go work at Wall Street.’

“I grew up in Brazil listening to the government say, ‘We have to grow. We have to grow. We need to become an industrial economy.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, we do have to grow.’ For me, the key point was, how are we going to finance the growth? I said, ‘That’s how we change the world.’

“I joined Lehman Brothers in the ’90s. There was a lot of capital pouring into Brazil and Latin America back then. And that’s exactly what I thought was needed. We’re talking about people buying their first TV, their first refrigerator, empowering them with affordable electricity for the very first time. 

“My business partner and I found an even better way to finance the clean energy transition. We went from Wall Street to our own startup. The beauty of startups is you have a clear problem that you try to address. And usually you do it in a different way. At iClima, it took us 18 months. 

“We realized that 25% of all that solar energy was going to be at the point of consumption, and that we were going to reshape our dated fossil fuel based, centralized grid in a very material way. I became nearly obsessed with that idea.

“I close my eyes and I can almost see – I can see the world in 2030 being fundamentally a different place. Cars, as we know them, will cease to exist. They’ll be computerized power plants on wheels. It will change everything, and it’s going to be extremely fast. The world in 2030, which is just around the corner, will be a much more democratic and sustainable place because of clean energy.”

Gabriela Herculano, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder at iClima Earth, is one of the 320 people that Bill Nussey interviewed for his new book., “Freeing Energy: How innovators are using local-scale solar and batteries to disrupt the global energy industry from the outside in.”

Available today

Learn more about Gaby from her Freeing Energy podcast with Bill Nussey.

You can see all the heroes (so far) and their stories here.

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