UNSW Renewable Energy Engineering alumni Bav Roy is making moves in Silicon Valley to help address transport-related emissions.

Bav Roy’s passion for climate change solutions has taken him all the way into the Forbes list of Top Young Entrepreneurs.

The UNSW Renewable Energy Engineering alumnus co-founded Verne, a climate change tech startup that aims to develop high density hydrogen storage for heavy duty transport.

Bav, along with Verne co-founders David Jaramillo and Ted McKlveen, were chosen in the prestigious 2021 Forbes 30 under 30 List in the Energy category, joining other recipients from global companies such as Tesla and Amazon.

The annual list recognises 600 young entrepreneurs, activities, scientists, and entertainers across several categories such as Sports, Education, Media, and Music. Alumni of the list include Daniel Ek, co-founder of music streaming service Spotify, and Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva.

“It’s an honour to be recognised at this stage of our journey – and it’s obviously a team effort,” Bav says.

“We’re still in the early stages of the company’s growth. We’re getting early traction with vehicle manufacturers but we’ve got a lot of work to do before we feel like we’ve truly made a dent on greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is just the start of our journey but I’m very proud of how far we’ve come in the first two years.”

Life after UNSW

After finishing high school, Bav Roy was inspired by the role of renewable energy as a potential solution to the looming problem of climate change.

To combine both the technical engineering skills with his curiosity for business, he completed a Renewable Energy Engineering and Finance degree at UNSW, graduated with First Class Honours and was recognised in the Deans Honours List in his graduating year.

After a few years working at Boston Consulting Group, Bav undertook a Masters of Business Administration at Stanford University which immersed him in an environment of young business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“I learnt pretty quickly in my UNSW degree that we’re going to need a whole range of technical and commercial solutions to tackle this very complex problem,” he says.

“Stanford taught me a lot about the business world including how start-ups are built, how venture capital is deployed.

“But it opened my eyes to the deep decarbonisation problem of trying to get to net-zero emissions for the global economy. And it’s at Stanford where I was introduced to the potential for green hydrogen to play a key role in addressing climate change.”

Now as Chief Operating Officer at Verne, he is working on hydrogen storage for heavy duty transport. He says there is a lot of research already invested in producing hydrogen and reducing the cost of production but recognised there was a gap in how hydrogen can be efficiently and safely stored.

“That’s how Verne was born – we’re aiming to deploy the next generation of hydrogen technology to specifically target the 10 per cent of global emissions that are produced by heavy duty transport across trucking, shipping and aviation,” he says.

“We double the density of hydrogen storage on fuel cell (hydrogen-powered) vehicles. These vehicles can travel twice as far or travel the same range with half the number of fuel tanks – saving on both cost and weight.”

Verne has recently received grant funding from Bill Gates’ climate foundation Breakthrough Energy Fellows, along with other grants from Caltech, MIT and Stanford.

Lesson for future energy engineers

While his day might look a little differently to when he used to hang out at the White House Bar back as an undergraduate student, Bav says his time at UNSW has taught him much more beyond the technical skills.

“My biggest advice to students now is that you can always learn something from every experience. Rather than viewing past experiences as failures or successes, see each as a learning opportunity for how you can do better next time,” he says.

“I can’t stress how important the process of reflection is – to diagnose and analyse what happened and why it happened is a really crucial muscle to build up to support your growth.

“Remember to think big, seize any opportunity to learn and grow and if you can, use those skills to make a positive impact on the world.

“And as always - stay humble.”