Electrifying Everything?

Wednesday March 13, 2024 12:15pm to 1:15pm
Huntsman Hall 250
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia , PA 19104

A commonly-proposed climate solution has two simple steps: First, clean up electricity with renewable power. Second, electrify everything. This strategy has broad appeal as renewable power has become substantially cheaper and more abundant, and electric vehicle have rapidly captured a significant market share. But can our whole power system run on renewable electricity? And are there sectors that are perhaps harder to electrify, such as heating, industrial processes, and aviation? And what is the role for alternative fuels, such as hydrogen?

In this event, Michael Mann (Presidential Distinguished Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania), Michael Panfil (Lecturer, The Wharton School), Jacob Susman (CEO & Founder of green hydrogen developer Ambient Fuels), and Patrick Verdonck (Founder at renewable power advisory firm Verdonck Partners) will shed their light on these critically important questions. The panel will be moderated by Sarah Light, Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at the Wharton School.

This event is open to all Penn/Wharton students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Registration does not guarantee a seat. Lunch will be provided on a first-come-first-served basis.


Michael Mann

Presidential Distinguished Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science

University of Pennsylvania

Michael E. Mann is the Presidential Distinguished Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania, with a secondary appointment in the Annenberg School for Communication. He is the director of the Penn Center for Science, Sustainability, and the Media (PCSSM) and a faculty fellow with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.

Mann received his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. degree in Physics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University. His research interests include the study of Earth’s climate system and the science, impacts and policy implications of human-caused climate change.

Michael Panfil


Wharton School

As Director of Federal Energy Policy and Senior Attorney Michael Panfil is a member of EDF’s Climate and Air, Clean Energy team, where he engages in federal litigation, regulatory, and policy efforts across the country to advocate for an environmentally friendly and economically efficient electricity sector. Michael’s work focuses on reducing emissions throughout the United States by advocating for the deployment of smarter technology, improved market operations, and sustainable practices.

Among other things, Michael focuses on cases before and involving federal agencies, with experience including the Supreme Court case FERC v. EPSA, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit case Allco v. Klee, and proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Michael principally focuses on federal energy issues, cases, and policies. Michael has previously worked on state regulatory cases and actions in California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois. He is admitted to the New York State Bar and previously served as a member of the New York City Bar Association, Environmental Law Committee.

Jacob Susman


Ambient Fuels

Jacob Susman is a clean economy business builder, investor, and thought leader who has been developing and originating renewable energy projects for over 20 years. 

Jacob has decades of experience as a finance professional and project developer with a global power sector network. He is a successful clean energy founder-CEO, having built and led OwnEnergy, a wind energy mid-market leader, from inception to exit. He has also been instrumental in renewable energy investments and projects as an investor at Goldman Sachs and an executive at EDF Renewables.  

With Jigar Shah, Jacob co-founded Cleantech Leaders Roundtable (CTLR), a private community of business leaders working to combat climate change and build a thriving clean economy. He currently serves as CTLR’s Board President. Jacob is also a board member of REpowering Schools. He previously served on the boards of American Clean Power’s predecessor, AWEA, as well as the American Council on Renewable Energy. He was a founding board member of Clean Energy Buyers Association’s predecessor, REBA.

Patrick Verdonck

Founder and CEO

Verdonck Partners

Patrick Verdonck is the founder of  Verdonck Partners and has 20 years of energy and infrastructure industry experience. 

At Verdonck Partners, he advises investors, power companies and renewable project developers on buy side due diligence, and capital raising, as well value-add asset management projects such as repowering thermal power plants and off-take structuring.   Patrick is also the founder of Rhynland Energy, a battery energy storage developer.

Prior to founding Verdonck Partners, he spent nearly 10 years with Starwood Capital’s Energy Group where he invested in battery energy storage and solar generation, as well as natural gas and coal-fired power plants.

Sarah Light

Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics

Wharton School

Professor Light’s research examines issues at the intersection of environmental law, corporate sustainability, and business innovation. Her articles have addressed the ways in which laws that structure corporations and the marketplace should be considered forms of environmental law; how private actions by business firms, such as the adoption of a private carbon fee, or lending and underwriting decisions by banks and insurance companies, can be forms of private environmental governance; and how to address concerns about greenwashing consistent with the First Amendment.  Her articles have appeared in the Stanford Law Review, the Columbia Law Review, the Duke Law Journal, the UCLA Law Review, and the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, among others.

Professor Light serves as Faculty Co-Director of Wharton’s Climate Center.