Green Light Distrikt is about entrepreneurship focused on the cleantech sector. GLD U provides cleantech courses . Edited by Chris Williams with frequent guest posts from friends, experts and industry insiders from clusters across the globe. Our goal is to provide a place where cleantech entrepreneurs in various clusters across the globe can learn from one another. Green Light Distrikt is creating the "Hitchikers Guide to Clentech" to provide a resource for cleantech entrepreneurs. Read more
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- "Solar, Inc." and the Balance of Values
- Top 10 Boston Clean Tech Companies Killing It on Twitter
- Good News For Job Seekers! Mass Solar Industry to Grow 30% per year
- VOTE: Boston's Top 26
- What’s your Opinion? Green Tech VS. Clean Tech VS. ‘EnerTech’?
- What’s Better? Climate Change OR Climate Disruption
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$100 Discounts for Basic Technical TrainingBasic technical training is key for anyone interested in the renewable energy industry. Use the code "GLD" to get discounts from any of the below trainings.
- NABCEP Solar Training Boston This training course is made for people who are new to solar. You’ll learn how to design a solar PV array from a to z, how to quote a project, the installation process, and solar code.
- Solar Sales Training Learn how to sell solar from an expert, Keith Cronin. Keith build and sold his solar company to SunEdison. Keith knows how to sell jobs profitably.
- IGSHPA Geothermal Training The IGSHPA certification is the standard in the industry. In this training, you’ll learn how to design and quote residential and light commercial projects by 1) determining building loading 2) sizing equipment 3) sizing the group loop 4) sizing the distribution system and controls 5) and what sort of equipment so spec in each of the prior steps.
- NABCEP Solar Thermal Training Boot Camp: The solar thermal boot camp is similar to the PV boot camp, but just that it’s based on solar thermal systems.
- Selling Clean Energy to the Government The federal government, and specifically the military, has become the largest single renewable energy customer in the US with a goal of 3GW of installed capacity, among various technologies, by 202.
Other Free ResourcesFree NABCEP Study Guide If you’re studying for the NABCEP Solar PV installer or just want an in-depth review of solar basics this will be a good resource for you. If you want to buy the full guide, you can find it here NABCEP Study Guide.
Solar Reading List 101 A useful list of free article on solar sales, marketing, design, installation, policy and finance.
Geothermal Reading List 101 A useful life of free articles on solar sales, marketing, design, installation of projects.
Click here to learn what is NABCEP and wether or not you should need to get the certification. If you're serious about the solar industry and you want to get the NABCEP Certification, but you need to understand how exactly to apply, you can read more about getting the NABCEP Certification here.
June 28th, 2011
As Michael Shimazu boasted at “The Value of a Negawatt” panel in May, the number of VC deals in energy efficiency in the US is projected to double to more than 70 in 2011, continuing an upward trend that began in 2008. This is cause for optimism for businesses – yet what happens to individuals that want to make a clean energy product but don’t have the start-up capital or marketing power to do so? Read past the break for the full story and join the Green Light Distrikt Facebook group for updates on new events, blog posts and more.
Enter Kickstarter, the self-proclaimed “largest funding platform for creative projects in the world.” Kickstarter provides the Everyman/Everywoman with a low-barrier-to-entry way to create and produce projects ranging from video documentaries to kids books to mobile apps to pop-up restaurants. I first learned about Kickstarter through Engadget, which posted an article about Scott Wilson’s iPod Nano watch last fall. Scott’s project, by the way, went on to become the largest Kickstarter project, raising more than $900,000 in just 30 days (his goal was $15,000). Though most projects don’t reach this level of cult success, Kickstarter has recruited more than 400,000 followers on Twitter and has funneled $60 Million to projects over the last two years. This all begged me to ask, “What can Kickstarter mean for clean energy adoption?”
This is the question I sought to answer over the past month. The following are my findings:
- Kickstarter is like your neighbor’s kid’s lemonade stand. For 15 cents, you get a glass of ice-cold lemonade and a sense of patronage for helping someone you care for. All Kickstarter projects are built on this idea by providing rewards that provide a fair exchange for your financial support as well as supporting a cause you believe in. This isn’t volunteering for a soup kitchen – it’s volunteering for a soup kitchen in exchange for community service hours you need for probation – it’s commerce plus patronage.
- A major barrier to broad adoption of clean energy technology from the masses is confusion. This is due to both poor public awareness campaigns by companies offering such products, effective campaigns by companies that have contradictory interests, and the endless challenges of behavioral change. Hands-on education is an effective tool to demystify clean energy, and Kickstarter’s small-scale scope lends itself to such experimental projects. Great examples of products that demystified entire industries are community gardens, hybrid cars, eReaders, CFLs, and bike share programs). As one interviewee said in the video for the Kickstarter project “Redefining Roots,” “I honestly think there’s an issue of lack of information. I think I’m fairly well informed and this is the first I’ve heard of [this project]. The challenge is always, with competing priorities, how to find information, and then ultimately inspiration and then, once you see it, can you replicate something of your own.”
- Another approach that is not unique to Kickstarter projects but is less likely in larger enterprises is what’s called “open innovation,” defined as “working closely with customers to develop new solutions.” So in addition to making projects more accessible because of a low-barrier-to-entry, Kickstarter enables people to solicit input from consumers that may provide insight into improving clean energy projects, insight that might be lost for products at the scale of a Philips. Furthermore, because the focus of Kickstarter is on creative projects, the consumer experience is highly value. This all leads to better products that don’t require the level of R&D that would be needed for corporations.
- Since Kickstarter isn’t specific to clean energy projects, it attracts a broader set of people than may be attracted to, say, green products. This broader base enables people that do have clean energy projects to reach an audience that are not typically early adopters, with the resultant increase in sales and awareness.
- B Squares:
- Project: “We were getting frustrated that it was so difficult to integrate solar energy into our professional and for-fun ‘electric graffiti’ projects. So, after three months of intense development, with B-Squares we now think we have a technology that can bring solar, energy storage, and interactivity into a range of projects, instantly. And we need your help to complete the journey…Our hope is that these become a tool/toy/gadget for hobbyists, students, artists and anyone that’s ever said “I wonder if that could be solar-powered!?””
- Goal: $25,000
- Pledged: $145,000
- Backers: 1,100
- Status: Funded with nearly 600% more than goal.
- Power Families Clean Energy Kids Book:
- Project: “We want to reach out to show kids (and adults too!) that there are great, clean ways to help power our world. We have created ‘The Power Families’, a series of beautifully written and illustrated picture books set on renewable energy farms.”
- Goal: $25,000
- Pledged: $25,147
- Backers: 94
- Status: Funded (barely).
- Reva Bag:
- Project: “What happens when you combine fashion with technology? You arrive at our idea, a Reva Bag: a stylish utility handbag with solar charging capabilities. The Reva bag capture and store energy from the sun, and within the bag is a female USB port that allows the user to charge her gadgets on the go. The energy stored in the Reva bag allows you to recharge your gadgets anytime, anywhere.”
- Goal: $15,000
- Pledged: $1,598
- Backers: 17
- Status: 18 days to go.
- A Sustainable Reality: Redefining Roots:
- Project: “We are currently working on a web series / documentary, which highlights upon Chicago’s first industrial reuse farm, and overall sustainable urban agriculture. We begin by examining how the mid west will soon be a hub for full year long local indoor growth by means of aquaponics, aeroponics, and hydroponics. However, this is only a small piece of the puzzle. Our larger project is an on going web series where we highlight and connect various community projects including (but not limited to) rooftop gardens, volunteer efforts, various growing operations, community gardens, organic and vegan restaurants, co-op kitchens, craft beer manufacturing, youth programs, and many more.”
- Goal: $11,000
- Pledged: $2,295
- Backers: 32
- Status: 51 days to go.
- There are other projects related to environmental issues in general such as window farms and the Iraqi seed project that are not explicitly related to clean energy.
As you can see, some Kickstarter clean energy projects are more successful than others.
What’s exciting about Kickstarter is that it shortens the path from cool ideas to consumer product, providing a sort of creativity marketplace that may have a profound impact on clean energy products for consumers. In May, Apple announced that it would stock the iPod Nano watch in all Apple retail stores, making the innovative product available to more than the original 13,000 Kickstarter backers. Clearly, such sales volume are due to the broad appeal of the iPod Nano and portable music players; but this success story, and Kickstarter in general, provides clean energy advocates with a new, business-driven way to innovate and transform the industry. I encourage you to support a project, tell a friend (or five!), sign up for updates, and even start your own project. And I’ll even go as far as to say that if you create a project related to clean energy, I guarantee you I’ll support it.
How have you used Kickstarter? How can it be a vehicle to transform the industry? What ideas do you have for projects?
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