Bryce Anderson of RE Royalties: “Teach Them About Climate Change”

Things Might Look Green or Sustainable on the Surface, but that can Change Quickly When you Dig a bit Deeper. My first exposure to this was in university when learning about renewable fuels. You can make fuel out of corn? Sounds super green. Wait, how much energy does that take? Where is the energy coming from […]

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Things Might Look Green or Sustainable on the Surface, but that can Change Quickly When you Dig a bit Deeper.

My first exposure to this was in university when learning about renewable fuels. You can make fuel out of corn? Sounds super green. Wait, how much energy does that take? Where is the energy coming from (coal, gas, renewables)? Is it waste corn or food-grade? There are a lot of variables to consider. Since I have with RE Royalties, we have looked at several biofuel facilities that genuinely are green, but we had to peel back the layers first in order to know for sure.

As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bryce Anderson.

Bryce is a mechanical engineer with a passion for sustainable finance. He is currently Vice President of Investments at RE Royalties Ltd., a company that provides innovative financing solutions for the renewable energy industry. In his role, Bryce works directly with the CEO and COO to conduct due diligence on both the renewable energy projects and the associated companies they help finance.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I grew up in a small oil and gas town in Northern British Columbia, Canada. From an early age, I was exposed to the industry. I spent most of my teenage working hours on-site performing various jobs, from instrumentation to land surveying. It was early on in this period that I realized how finite the world’s resources are, and I decided that I didn’t want to work in the oil and gas industry as it had a time limit. My time in university only solidified this as I learned more about sustainability during my engineering degree.

I decided that I wanted to do more than just avoid the oil and gas industry; I wanted to focus my career on combating climate change. As I completed my necessary co-op terms, I realized I wouldn’t be happy tackling climate change through a traditional engineering path. When I took my first finance course, I realized how large of an impact I could make by helping direct more capital into the projects that are helping offset greenhouse gas emissions. Coincidentally, I was put in touch with RE Royalties and persistently followed-up with the company founders until I got a job!

What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?

RE Royalties was founded in 2015 with a simple goal: grow the renewable energy economy by acting as a conduit between those wishing to invest in the space and renewable energy leaders who need capital. In simpler terms, we invest in renewable energy projects using money from our investors to create a cleaner future while also providing our investors with strong returns. We saw the opportunity to help bridge the gap between innovation in the renewable energy industry and increasing awareness in the financial sector. We wanted to provide the average investor with ways to directly invest in renewable projects. So, we decided to create a company that allows them to do just that.

“Investing in a cleaner future.” We want to accelerate the transition to a green energy future by offering innovative financial solutions to smaller developers, operators and owners of renewable energy projects who are often overlooked by traditional financing sources.

Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?

Focusing our Business Model on Fighting Climate Change

RE Royalties’ primary focus is to grow the green energy economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We target the smaller developers and owners of these clean energy projects, who are often overlooked by the rest of the financial industry, despite their projects often having the largest impact.

Offering True Green Investment Products

One of the greatest tragedies in the sustainable finance industry has been the domination by large players, such as pension funds or banks, that has resulted in very few options for a retail investor to participate, despite high demand. We have created different financial products that are accessible to all investors, such as our recently announced Green Bonds. These Green Bonds will strictly be used to help offset the impacts of climate change while helping to open up an entirely new source of capital for green projects

Targeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

We have built an entire framework for our Green Bonds where we have committed to using the proceeds raised to address particular Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, such as #7: Clean and Affordable Energy and #13: Climate Action. We plan to get independent verification for our use of proceeds so investors can feel confident that we use the money raised for what we said we would.

Reducing Office Space and Increasing Working from Home

Since COVID hit, our entire team has been working 99% from home. It was not something we had done before, but we now see that it works well. As a result, we have plans to reduce the office space we rent and continue with most employees’ time working spent at home. Not only will this reduce our energy usage at the office, but it will also avoid a ton of emissions from employees commuting.

Thought Leadership
There has been no shortage of coverage from mainstream media on the impacts of climate change and how bad things could get. However, they often overlook just how promising certain clean technologies are and how far they have come. For example, did you know solar costs roughly 10% of what it did 10 years ago on an unsubsidized basis, all while becoming more efficient? The technology and economics have changed dramatically for the better in the last decade, to the point where wind and solar are the cheapest source of electricity in at least two-thirds of the world. At RE Royalties, we take any opportunity we can to educate the public about renewables and just how competitive they are with fossil fuels. We share our research and articles on our company blog regularly. We believe that the more people are knowledgeable about the industry, the more they will invest in it, ultimately resulting in more projects being built and greenhouse gases being offset.

How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?

I believe that this can be done in three ways:

Cheaper Capital: One of the most recent arguments for sustainable and environmentally conscious business practices has been the ability to access cheaper capital. For example, suppose you can show you are measuring and working to reduce your carbon footprint. In that case, some institutional investors would be willing to offer you debt financing at a lower interest rate. This lower interest rate will allow you to increase profitability.

Less Waste: This one is fairly simple, but still worth mentioning. Focusing on increased sustainability will ultimately lead to less waste, reducing costs and ultimately boosting the bottom line.

Better Social Licence: Having a better “social licence” or general acceptance of your business practices via increased sustainability will ultimately reduce your chances of being sued by a stakeholder. This social licence will also help attract and retain higher quality employees. By avoiding legal costs and the costs related to employee turnover, this action will also boost profitability.

The youth led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.

Expose Them to Nature

You can’t expect your children to fight for something they are unfamiliar with. We protect what we love. The first step in raising the next eco-warrior is exposing them to the natural world around them as much as possible in order to foster a deep love for the environment.

Teach Them About Climate Change

Next step is to teach your children about climate change, what it is and why it’s bad. Don’t worry, you don’t have to try and dust off your high school science textbook to butcher an explanation of the greenhouse effect. There are countless resources out there for various age groups that give a great overview, like this one from Bill Nye.

Don’t Sugarcoat It

Climate change is bad, getting worse, and will be devastating if we don’t make some significant changes, especially for future generations. I am not suggesting you terrify your children and give them nightmares about the world ending due to climate change. However, we have to be realistic about how bad things are and how bad they may get for the younger generation so that they understand the gravity of the situation.

Educate Them on How They Can Make a Difference

I remember as a young kid learning about the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. This mantra is a great place to start, but I think the best way to learn is by doing. Get your kids involved with your own sustainability efforts around the house so that they can continue them once they have a home of their own.

Lead by Example

Now that you’ve talked the talk, you have to walk the walk and be a good environmental role model for your children. Ensure you follow the methods you’ve shared in the previous step but also remember that, no matter what you do, it won’t be perfect and accept that. That sentiment reminds me of one of my favourite sustainability quotes by Anne Marie Bonneau, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste properly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

Start with Why

“Start with Why,” the title of a TED Talk by Simon Sinek that went viral, has been instrumental in RE Royalties’ communication methods. Soon after I started, we brought in a consultant to help us with brand strategy and she shared this video with us. We had all seen it before, but this time was different. It really clicked for us and we realized that, as a management team with a lot of technical background, we had focused too heavily on the how and what questions of what we were doing, but not the why, which was confusing for our investors and clients. I don’t claim that we are some marketing powerhouse like Apple now, but our level of communication has increased dramatically since we focused more on the why in all of our content.

A Business is Like a Person

During our time with this consultant, we performed an exercise where we wrote down what we believed the company’s values should be on sticky notes and whittled them down to form the core values that ultimately drive our marketing and communication efforts today. It was very eye-opening for me to realize that a company is very similar to a person where it had to figure out its personality, core beliefs and who it wanted to be when it grew up. This exercise also opened our eyes to what kind of clients and investors we wanted to attract that had similar values to us. As a long term investor, it has been invaluable to look at clients through this different lens to ensure our relationship is sustainable and will survive any rough patches.

In Finance, the Odds Truly are Stacked Against the Little Guy

Just like our clients we have helped finance, we have run into several hurdles as a small company, even since going public in 2018. I was very naive after graduating from university. I thought that if you had a great idea and a solid track record, it should be easy to raise money. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case. Many hurdles and inefficiencies exist that are stacked against smaller companies, making it extremely difficult to cross the chasm between small and seemingly unattractive to large and exciting. You typically need to engage an investment bank to raise capital, but unless you can show enough scale to move the needle on their commission, they are often uninterested. Even if you find a bank to do a smaller offering, it can be impossible to get shelf space at any of the other brokerages to allow their clients to purchase your investment products. Imagine wanting to invest in a company, but your bank says no because they can’t make enough money off you. That’s like your credit card provider telling you what types of bread you can or can’t buy at the grocery store.

Even Green Projects/Initiatives Can Face Opposition

This point might relate to me being naive again, but I had never considered opposition being an obstacle or issue for renewable energy projects. Strip mining? Sure. Fracking? Totally. But Solar? It didn’t seem likely. Who wouldn’t want to embrace clean, renewable, energy and job creation in their backyard? Apparently, some people. We have spoken to several potential clients over the past few years who have run into this exact issue. It just goes to show that no matter how generally positive and acceptable something seems, there will always be those that oppose it, especially where money is involved. That is why, whether it’s a renewable energy company or a solar project, it is important to perform stakeholder engagement early and often to ensure you earn and maintain a social licence.

Things Might Look Green or Sustainable on the Surface, but that can Change Quickly When you Dig a bit Deeper.

My first exposure to this was in university when learning about renewable fuels. You can make fuel out of corn? Sounds super green. Wait, how much energy does that take? Where is the energy coming from (coal, gas, renewables)? Is it waste corn or food-grade? There are a lot of variables to consider. Since I have with RE Royalties, we have looked at several biofuel facilities that genuinely are green, but we had to peel back the layers first in order to know for sure.

More recently, I have noticed a similar trend in the finance industry. Several companies are now offering Environmental, Social, and Governance (“ESG”) funds that have misleading words like “sustainable” in their titles with pictures of wind turbines on the front. That would lead me to think that this fund is quite environmentally conscious and invests in companies related to renewable energy. However, when I peeled back the layers and looked at the companies held in that fund, I realized that there were no renewable energy companies and there was still significant exposure to the oil and gas industry. That is not to say this isn’t a good investment product, but with anything overly complicated, like biofuels or investment funds, make sure you do your due diligence to ensure it is what you think it is.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My girlfriend and roommate, Em. After graduating from university, I went traveling all over Southeast Asia. While in Hanoi, in Northern Vietnam, I was put in touch with a friend of a friend who was also living there. Coincidentally, his sister was also visiting at that time, and we immediately hit it off. Apparently, I needed to go to Asia to find a nice Canadian girl. Fast forward a few months, and we were officially dating and both back in Canada. The problem was she had a job in Vancouver, and I was back home in Northern British Columbia studying for CFA exams and applying for jobs. I would travel to Vancouver every month or so and visit her and try to hand out as many resumes as possible. I wasn’t getting very far, and I think her father felt sorry for me, so he put me in touch with their long time family friend who had been helping raise money for RE Royalties. She got me my first meeting with the founder of RE Royalties, Bernard Tan.

Unfortunately, it was still a bit early at that time, so I didn’t get the job yet. I returned home and kept studying until I wrote my first CFA exam. After this, I realized I had nothing to occupy my time with anymore and was worried I would get sucked into an oil and gas job if I stayed in Northern, British Columbia. So, I packed up all my stuff in my car and drove the 1,200km to Vancouver to move in with Em temporarily to improve my odds of landing a job. Somehow she let me move in with her in her tiny 480 square foot studio apartment after only a few months of dating (pretty sure I still owe her rent), but this was ultimately the catalyst I needed to land the job at RE Royalties. Shortly after making the move, I found out I passed my exam and let Bernard know. We had another meeting and I got a job offer shortly after. I truly believe if I never met Em, I would never have got the job I have now.

In the years since landing the job, I have gotten my CFA charter and several other financial designations. All of these took countless hours of studying, and I am someone who needs quiet in order to focus. Em always supported my studying efforts and would sit quietly or wear headphones so that I could read my textbooks as we shared a small apartment. The studying has subsided, much to her delight, but I do sometimes think back about where I would be without all of her support along the way.

You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The further democratization of investing, especially as it pertains to the renewable energy industry. To date, the industry has been dominated by large players who have access to a larger array of investment opportunities, while leaving very few options to the average retail investor. I think the individual investor demand is there, but further work needs to be done to create more financial products for this demographic, while lowering the regulatory hurdles that stand in the way.

Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?

One that has really resonated with me and should be familiar to any Parks and Rec fans:

“Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing” — Ron Swanson

It seems silly, but the concept is clear. Doing something really well requires focus, and your dedication and time are limited resources. It can be a real struggle to be an adult and juggle family, work, studying, and whatever else, but I believe the true key to success is prioritizing what matters most and not spreading yourself too thin.

What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?

LinkedIn —

This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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