Q&A: Clean energy pioneer sees potential in using food waste for renewable energy

Jigar Shah, the founder of solar company SunEdison, is credited with helping transform the industry in the early 2000s by allowing customers a pay-as-you-go model for installing solar panels, opening the door for widespread adoption. After leaving SunEdison, Shah in 2014 co-founded his latest venture in San Francisco-based Generate Capital, a specialty finance company focused on sustainable infrastructure within the food, energy, water and materials sectors. Amid the “Resource Revolution” — which the company sees as an opportunity to transform the productivity of systems that power society — Generate Capital took Shah’s SunEdison concept and applied it to an “Infrastructure-as-a-Service” model for both companies and municipalities that might struggle with upfront capital costs. Earlier this year, Generate Capital bought a state-of-the-art biodigester facility in rural West Michigan for $4.4 million after the facility abruptly closed two years ago, despite initial fanfare. Financial specialists say the facility, which opened in Fremont, Michigan in 2012, was overbuilt at $22 million.