Energy Innovation and Decarbonization

Michael Hayes

Global Renewables Head, KPMG

Mike Hayes has been a Partner in KPMG Ireland for the past 20 years and is the Global Renewables Leader for KPMG. Mike has been involved in the renewable energy industry from the very early days and has been extensively involved in working with and advising leading global renewables developers and key global investors in this sector.

Mike has worked on projects involving all renewable technologies from wind and solar to more recent innovations such as algae, biomass and hydrogen renewable solutions.

In his global renewables role, Mike is responsible for mobilizing the firm’s expertise to provide global solutions to clients across the renewable energy spectrum. His key area of focus is in the area of energy transformation and he is working with various multinational corporations and energy providers to help deliver solutions.

Mike is also passionately committed to the area of sustainable energy innovation and he is leading a KPMG team collaborating with the World Economic Forum on this agenda. In this regard, he has taken the lead in developing an innovative proposal to establish a Global Sustainable Energy Innovation Fund which is expected to be launched at Davos 2020 with the backing of public and private investors.

Wade Bitaraf

Founder, Energy & Sustainability, Plug and Play


Wade Bitaraf is the head of Energy & Sustainability Practice at Plug and Play, an active early stage investor and global corporate innovation center. His mission at Plug and Play is to bring innovation into the energy industry by bridging large corporations to the startup ecosystem. In the past three years, Wade worked closely with the entrepreneurs building innovative products and solutions for electric utilities and oil and gas companies.

Wade holds master’s degrees in chemical engineering and petroleum and natural gas engineering.

Charlie Bowser

President, NET Power

Charlie Bowser is President of NET Power, where he has overseen the engineering, procurement, construction and operations of the first-of-a-kind 50MW demonstration plant in La Porte, TX. His focus has now shifted to the engineering of the first commercial plant.

A Massachusetts native and 1994 US Naval Academy graduate, he served on active duty on nuclear powered submarines from 1994 to 2002. Following active duty, he received his MBA in corporate finance from Cornell University in 2004 and began work at Exelon's Dresden Nuclear Power Station in Morris, IL in the engineering department. While Charlie held leadership roles in engineering and finance from 2004 to 2011, Dresden achieved the rating of INPO 1.

Following Exelon's acquisition of John Deere Wind 2011 (which was renamed Exelon Renewables), he led the integration and stood up the finance and land teams. During his tenure Exelon grew the portfolio from 735 MW to over 1500 MW.

Mark Coalmer is CCUS Projects Director at OGCI Climate Investments.


He is a 27-year veteran of project management and leadership.  He and his team at the $1B+ Climate Investments Fund identify and advance promising projects and technologies to reduce atmospheric CO2. Mark has designed and led projects as an engineer and project manager, and also managed teams of thousands implementing hundreds of concurrent projects as Major Projects Director, Chief Facilities Engineer, Operations Director, Facilities & Construction Manager and similar roles in the US and Middle East for Occidental Petroleum. 


An avid outdoor athlete, Mark holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Ohio State University.

Mark Coalmer

CCUS Projects Director, OGCI Climate Investments

Tim Kopra is a Partner at Blue Bear and oversees the operational performance of portfolio companies. An engineer by training, since 1998 Tim has served in various leadership and operational roles at NASA, including as Flight Engineer and Commander of the International Space Station.  Tim has been responsible for numerous technology development, deployment, and operations programs including for Space Shuttle launch operations, Space Station hardware and communications systems, and spacewalk interface verification and testing.

Prior to NASA, Tim served in the US Army for 25 years as an Army aviator. He deployed to Operations Desert Shield and Storm, and then commanded an AH-64 Attack Helicopter Company. Following studies at Georgia Tech and completing the US Navy Test Pilot School, Tim served as the Developmental Test Director for the Army’s Comanche Program until his assignment to NASA.

Tim’s education includes a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, United States Military Academy; Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology; Master of Strategic Studies, US Army War College; and Masters of Business Administration from Columbia Business School and London Business School.

Tim Kopra

Partner, Blue Bear Capital

Dr. Varun Rai is an Associate Professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, where he directs the Energy Systems Transformation Research Group (Rai Group). His interdisciplinary research – delving with issues at the interface of energy systems, complex systems, decision science and public policy – focuses on studying how the interactions between the underlying social, behavioral, economic, technological and institutional components of the energy system impact the diffusion of energy technologies.

Over the last 15 years, his research has applied various analytical lenses to study technologies and policies in carbon capture and storage (CCS), fuels cells, oil & gas, plug-in hybrid vehicles (PEVs), and solar photovoltaics (PV). He has presented at several important forums, including the United States Senate Briefings, Global Intelligent Utility Network Coalition and Global Economic Symposium, and his research group’s work has been discussed in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Bloomberg News. Varun has held the position of the Associate Dean for Research for the LBJ School since September 2017.

Varun received his Ph.D. and Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur.

Varun Rai

Executive Director, UT Energy Institute

Dr. Sadasivan (Sadas) Shankar is the first Margaret and Will Hearst Visiting Lecturer in Computational Science and Engineering at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.  In fall 2013, as the first Distinguished Scientist in Residence at the Institute of Applied Computational Sciences in Harvard, along with Dr. Tim Kaxiras, he developed and co-instructed with Dr. Brad Malone, a graduate-level class on Computational Materials Design, which covered fundamental atomic and quantum techniques and practical applications for new materials by design.

Sadas has initiated and led multiple efforts for Intel, most recently the Materials Design Program. Over his tenure in research and development in the semiconductor industry, he and his team have worked on several new initiatives: using modeling to optimize semiconductor processing and equipment for several technology generations, advanced process control using physics-based models, thermo-mechanical reliability of microprocessors, thermal modeling of 3D die stacking, and using thermodynamic principles to estimate energy efficiency of ideal computing architectures.

Sadas is a co-author in publications and presentations in the areas of chemical synthesis, plasma chemistry and processing, direct simulation Monte Carlo, non-equilibrium electronic transport, electromigration, three dimensional rarefied and continuum reacting flows, and atomic methods enabling high throughout calculations for material interfaces.

He earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science from University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. 

Sadas Shanker

Associate, Harvard University