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August 23rd, 2010

“Solar, Inc.” and the Balance of Values

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For the past few weeks, I’ve felt somewhat disenchanted by the solar industry because I finally realized that it’s not a magical kingdom of free lunches and happy feelings — it’s a real industry with ups, downs, big companies, small companies, and a wide range of workers with different motivations.

Simple Solar-Powered Livin'

I recently finished listening to the audiobook of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and realized that the industrialization of the solar industry is very similar to that organic agriculture. Both stem from the Back-to-the-Land Movement in the 60’s and 70’s (please skim this Wiki article!), and were as much philosophical concepts as they were practical solutions to the energy and health needs of humans. As both ideas eventually hatched, they began to grow out of their idealism bubble and into the real world where they connect with other industries and organizations and mature. This article analyzes the social implications of this growth, as I’ve witnessed in my career.

Through the industrialization of solar panels as a commodity, small companies must grow by partnering with political and financial professionals not necessarily as passionately connected to solar ideals. The question is, do the ideals get diluted in this process, or do they in fact permeate the new realms of business and grow more? Most would side with the latter, but let’s not discount the former.

Regardless, I think it boils down to motivation – there are distinct categories of people working under the solar industry “umbrella.” These groups would be:

Me on my first solar thermal install in Bolton, MA

Group 1: People who are directly involved in the industry whose motivations at work mostly originate from a long-held belief in back-to-the-land values.

David Buzby, Chairman and founding investor of SunEdison.

Group 2: People who have been peripherally involved in the industry whose motivations at work mostly originate from an interest in their previous field – e.g. finance or politics or manufacturing.

Generally speaking, the bigger Group 1 gets, the more it needs Group 2 to remain stable and effective. As far as I can tell, Group 2 folks are very excited to be working in the solar field, and seem to be more and more influenced by the motivations of Group 1. However, I hope that Group 1 doesn’t become too absorbed into Group 2 through the industrialization of the industry.

10MW SunEdison Plant in AZ

I hope we as young clean tech professionals can keep the solar industry (and any clean tech industry) from falling off course in terms of values. We can do this through relentless discourse at any and all levels. Keep the values and philosophy discussion relevant and central.

January 19th, 2010

Clean Tech Tuesday: Spire Solar, Huge Tax Credits for Clean Tech, EnerNOC Expanding

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The new year in Boston has only brought an increase of activity in the clean tech sector. Federal money from the stimulus package has began to trickle in resulting in a new state solar incentive,while the new state energy efficiency program is getting developed and will be released shortly. Boston based companies have continued to sign deals, get government money, and expand into international operations.

Which of these stories is most interesting to you? As always, I’d love to hear your favorite stories from Boston or around the country. Please share via twitter with #cleantechtuesday

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January 12th, 2010

Clean Tech Tuesday Boston: Boston + China Wind Deal, Alt. Energy to Double, Clean Tech VC Upswing

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This is the third Clean Tech Tuesday, though the first one was on a Friday. At first, I didn’t think I would be able to post about Boston based clean tech news every week, but things have not slowed down and there has been ample news stories every week that I want to highlight and share with you. I’m interested in hearing your stores as well, please share via twitter on #cleantechtuesday.

Also, please vote for your Top 3 favorite Boston clean tech companies. The top 10 vote receivers from the list of the top 26 of Boston clean tech companies will be profiled each month on The Green Light Distrikt in 2010 starting in February.

Here are my 4 favorite stories from the past week in no particular order:

1. Morgan Stanley Chooses EnerNOC’s Monitoring-Based Commissioning Application to Drive Persistent Energy Savings

Industry sector: Energy efficiency, Energy service

January 7, 2010

EnerNOC is seeing success in diversifying from their original and core product, demand response energy solutions, to other solutions namely the Monitoring-Based Commissioning Services (MBCx) cited here. Good news for EnerNOC who last quarter started to break even but has been a publicly traded company for a little over a year. There growth is certainly creating some jobs in their downtown Boston headquarters, just in case you’re looking you can EnerNOC job openings here

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January 5th, 2010

Clean Tech Tuesday from Boston: New Solar Incentives, FloDesign, VCs, Smart Grid

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Clean Tech Tuesdays was started last week (on a Saturday) after I noticed that I skim through Boston area news about once a week to keep up to date on whats happening. Every week, or every couple of weeks depending on how much news there is we’ll will share with you stories we find the most interesting.

Please share your stories or thoughts in the comments section or via twitter #cleantechtuesday.

Here’s the best:

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January 2nd, 2010

Clean Tech Tuesday: Alteris, A123, EnerNOC Make Moves

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I know, I know its not Tuesday, its Saturday. But I plan on posting this on Tuesdays from now on.

The Green Light Distrikt is not a news site but I think it’s important to keep up to date on the news. To compensate for this we’ll be posting the top 5 or so most interesting stories with a little blurb about the story, a little bit about the company or why the news is important.

The current stories are for the month of December and November and in the future it will be a weekly or bi-weekly post.

I will keep the briefs focused and based around companies, so we can keep up to date of how the industry is going around Boston.

Here’s the 5 most interest stories and a little blurb about each piece:

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