Starting out as a geologist, Ryan became intrigued by the intersection of business and the environment when he got a dual MBA and Master of Environmental Management from Yale. For the past 20 years, he has focused on renewable energy. He got his training while working in wind energy at the Tehachapi Pass in Southern California, the site of some of the first large-scale wind farms in the U.S. "Tehachapi is where the U.S. wind industry really started," says Ryan. "It's like a monument to wind energy."
After working on wind projects across Canada, Ryan moved to northern California and became interested in the investment opportunities that solar energy offered—as well as the positive environmental impact.
He launched 38 Degrees North in 2015 to invest in solar and battery storage projects across the U.S. The firm has a significant focus on community solar, a regulated energy category where residents can subscribe to a nearby solar farm and save money on their electricity costs. “Community solar allows broad participation in solar cost savings,” says Ryan. “We can get solar closer to people that might not have the ability to put it on their roofs, and we can build larger projects on the ground at a lower unit cost than on the roof of a home.”
Ryan shares that this is the most interesting period that he has ever experienced in the renewables landscape. “Across renewable sectors—wind, solar, batteries, clean hydrogen—the Inflation Reduction Act provides stability in terms of tax credits and incentives on which the industry can rely. Projects typically take two to four years to turn into real assets. As an industry, we now have a 10-year runway that we can depend on.” He adds that the energy transition should provide significant investment opportunity. “We’re seeing tons of capital being deployed in this space. The electricity demands—because of the EV revolution and the need for infrastructure and charging networks—are going to keep growing. We’re going to have to invest materially in grid resilience so that all of this works, and not just when the sun is shining.”
Together with his family, Ryan has been a Brown Advisory client for 12 years. “We’ve grown as a family with the firm,” says Ryan. “Our relationship, which is led by Chris Bartlett and Alice Paik, initially focused on my mother’s estate plan, but now, all my siblings are involved. It has been really helpful for all of us, given our different situations, to have such personalized support. For me, sustainable investing is really important—and we have all benefited from guidance around investing in different asset classes, thinking about risk tolerance, tax efficiency and estate planning.”