Meet Naveen Lakshmipathy — Project Financing Expert of Wovoka’s Scientific Advisory Board

May 7, 2024

About Naveen

Naveen Lakshmipathy is the Senior Director for Finance & Strategy of EDF Renewables North America, a global renewable energy (RE) developer. His work is focused on financing renewable energy projects and bringing in sources of institutional equity capital. He worked with pension funds, asset managers, infrastructure funds, banks, and insurance companies that are looking to invest their capital in long-term stable cash flow-generating ESG investments.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Economy from the University of California Berkeley, a Masters Degree in Public Policy from The London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Michigan.

Since working with grassroots organizations in India to build rural energy enterprises, Naveen sought a career that advances market-based approaches that finance and scale such enterprises globally. His motivation lies in bringing in new sources of capital for the development of sustainable energy infrastructure solutions.

During our interview with Naveen, we touched on the challenges faced by nature-based solution projects in terms of financing. Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU) projects are one of the mitigation options with the highest potential contribution to net emission reductions by 2030 together with solar and wind energy. However, such mitigation options do not attract the same level of investments as renewables.

We asked Naveen why such disparity exists and how it can be mitigated.

“There are parallels that we can draw in terms of renewable energy financing to understand how to mobilize capital to get early-stage projects off the ground to the point where they can start to sustainably generate carbon credits. I think that part of it is going to involve the investigation of financial structures like forward purchase agreements or carbon streaming contracts. These are types of structures that are just developing in the market right now. It’s just a matter of creating bankable offtake structures that will go a long way in giving investors the confidence to invest in early-stage NbS carbon removal projects.”

For Naveen, bridging the gap in institutional resources is a matter of derisking nature-based carbon removal projects.

“Nature-based solutions are the most economically viable and have the best return on investment among any carbon removal methodology. It does not take a special person to be passionate about the restoration of our environment. However, for investors to pay attention, addressing the regulatory and technical risks is imperative before turning them into bankable investment opportunities,” said Naveen. 

In connection with Wovoka’s efforts, one important element of derisking NbS projects is ensuring that our partner communities are equipped with the technical know-how and can mobilize for a large-scale reforestation project. 

“The lack of institutional resources means there is also often a lack of technical support that community-based organizations would need in conceptualizing NbS projects. Wovoka’s efforts to work directly with the People’s Organizations is a step forward towards reducing project risks.”

As a member of Wovoka’s Scientific Advisory Board, Naveen is excited about the team’s grassroots approach to developing the project.

“During my time with Impact Carbon, I had the pleasure of building financial models for clean cookstoves for grassroots initiatives in Indonesia. What excites me the most is the chance to continue this kind of meaningful work with Wovoka.
I believe in our shared mission of creating sustainable solutions that benefit both the environment and communities. Being part of a team committed to making a real difference is incredibly rewarding, and I can’t wait to contribute to our future projects.”
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