CleanTech Events

October 11th, 2011

What I Learned at EnerNOC’s EnergySMART Conference

BOSTON -

The other week I had the pleasure of attending EnerNOC’s EnergySMART conference. It was a great opportunity to meet, learn and share ideas with other smart-grid, cleantech and sustainability professionals. I summarize my experience below.

Energy Management is a Vastly Untapped Resource

Did you know that the US is only 24th in the world in terms of energy efficiency utilization (and still a novel idea in the UK)? Being able to measure and manage energy consumption to smooth out energy peaks and transform commercial and industrial complexes into virtual power plants is just the beginning of harnessing the power of energy efficiency. It is a “great time to be in energy management”, said opening keynote speaker Bill Aulet, there are so many great Boston start-ups such as Next Step Living that provide a service that enables real bottom line saving, a positive ROI for energy efficiency projects and a strategy for mitigating risk factors. “This is not your father’s energy industry,” and as it evolves, it will be important to stay nimble, constantly learning and applying new technology.

…and Demand Response is Just the Beginning

With DemandSMART, EnerNOC’s enterprise, SaaS product, companies can easily measure and cut their energy consumption, receive payment for lowering demand and gain a competitive edge (Iron Mountain are you listening?). As the correlation between sustainability and profitability becomes more direct, cost centers can become revenue centers enabling companies to see new opportunities and innovate. Given how easy it is to partner with EnerNOC and start receiving checks almost immediately in the mail – I was surprised that customers were not beating down their doors – but, as I have learned, it will take some time before their solution becomes as “widely accepted a business practice as accounting.”

Looking Beyond DR – Carbon Accounting Helps Mitigate Risk

Looking to go beyond just measuring kWh? EnerNOC’s CarbonSMART solution is designed to give organizations data collection capabilities, analytics, reporting and mitigation planning for scope 1-3 activities. Akamai “reduced its carbon intensity by 50% in 2 years” and gained a greater understanding of its energy drivers. With companies such as Walmart who are ushering in more transparency in their supply chain, companies will be pressured into disclosing and eventually mitigating their GHG – so why not be proactive? EnerNOC’s product helps companies stay ahead of the curve, avoid cumbersome spreadsheets by providing “Carbon Counseling” to help measure, prioritize and deploy GHG mitigation strategies.

Networking & Building Partnerships is Key

It’s all about making connections and learning from one another, remarked Gregg Dixon, EnerNOC’s SVP of Sales & Marketing, who actively encouraged networking at the event. By engaging, collaborating and building bridges across various industries new solutions can be developed to make energy data more meaningful. Because the market is still relatively young, fragmented and lead times for energy projects are quite long, building support networks within business, political and non-profit arenas will be key in moving our country towards energy transparency and independence.

Overall, I Thought this Was a Great Event!

The combination of excellent speakers, content and location was a great mix for learning about current energy issues as well as EnerNOC’s product offering. I will be looking to see how the company develops mobile apps that enable customers to access, monitor and implement energy measures right from their smartphone. I will also be interested to see how EnerNOC leverages customer learnings that can benefit the entire network. I also hope that the low social media adoption rate for this industry improves to help increase awareness, facilitate learning and enable real progress.

 

May 25th, 2011

Energy Bar is Open (Boston) + Value of a Negawatt (NYC)

BOSTONNEW YORK -

There are two great events happening tomorrow in Boston and NYC.

In Boston, Green Light Distrikt will be hosting the inaugural of our new bi-monthly gathering, Energy Bar, in conjunction with Venture Cafe in Kendell Square.

In New York City, Clean Energy Connections along with NYC ACRE will be hosting the “Value of a Negawatt: Startups & The Energy Efficiency Boom”. Tickets can be on the Clean Energy Connections homepage.

More details on both events below.

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April 18th, 2011

In Solar’s Coming of Age, What are the Next Opportunities?

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solartech leadership, solartech conference, solarAt the recent SolarTech Leadership Summit, which took place March 29 and 30 in Santa Clara, CA, 200 industry thought leaders from California and around the country gathered to assess the greatest needs in the industry and suggest concrete actions to take in order to fill those gaps. These included topics from paperwork process standardization in permitting to better defining career paths to fill talent needs at growing companies to shifts on the utility level from transmission upgrades to demand response. How can entrants into the solar industry best position themselves to tackle these problems?

The theme of this year’s summit was Solar 3.0: A Path from Policy to Profitability. With the last steps in the California Solar Initiative (CSI), the longest-running solar incentive program in the nation, approaching, how to best transition to a unsubsidised industry and how to communicate lessons learned in California were hot topics. Markets in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are rapidly growing and have developed their own policies and programs. Conversations with CSI program administrators revealed that utilities, policymakers, and program administrators have not clear collaborated across the country on fostering and integrating solar.

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April 6th, 2011

Geeks and Geysers: How to Maneuver Around UK Clean Energy Policy

London -

Earlier this month I attended some industry events including the first Cleantech Cluster event outside London (in Bristol); the Economist Sustainable Business Summit; the Future of Utilities conference and a Lord Stern lecture among others. I’d like to give you a brief snapshot of some of the big picture discussions as well as how future UK cleantech prospects were presented at these events.

From Policy and Financing to Engagement and Collaboration

Many of the event speeches  were directed towards recent and imminent policy developments such as the Renewable Heat Incentive, Green Deal, Green Investment Bank, Electricity Market Reform, as well as outspoken, though in my opinion over stated, ‘failure’ of the Feed-in Tariff. Almost all debates made reference to how these policy developments are influencing the financing of innovations and organisational strategy. This really elucidated the fundamental current state of the cleantech industry’s reliance on politics and ensuing effect on the fragility of financing. As politicians are in office for bouts of up to 5 years whereas a typical investment lasts for 5, 10, 15, 20+ years, stakeholders are becoming increasingly frustrated with continual moving goal posts. To the extent that one investor stated to a room full of expectant entrepreneurs ‘early stage [cleantech] funding in the UK is in tatters due to a disincentivised VC community’. I think he most likely ruined their evenings but this is an understandable yet worrying sign.

There was also a surprising amount of discussion on consumer engagement and collaborations / partnerships. Something I was not expecting but theses issues are vital for transferring knowledge, within the industry but more importantly to those external to it, i.e. the public. Of the people I met at these events Siemens (the world’s largest clean tech investors) were championing their role in engaging with the industry very effectively and were also working on many successful partnerships, providing a model others should follow.

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March 30th, 2011

Themes from the Greentech Media Solar Summit: LCOE, Reliability, Scalability, and Utility Interoperability

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Greentech Media’s Solar Summit, held March 14 and 15 in Palm Springs, CA, was not your average solar industry event. With attendance coming in around 275 and mostly drawing higher-level management and executives, participants were expected to have a high level of industry expertise. Instead, discussions delved deep on very high-level topics; from diversification of PV product lines by market sector to increased need for inverters to respond to utility needs to the effects of regulatory bottlenecks on project finance and investor confidence. Several sessions were specifically devoted to covering challenges and innovations in product manufacturing as well; from innovations in fully-automated manufacturing to analyzing competitiveness across several thin-film technologies. + Continue Reading