We recently had the honor of convening the first-ever Cleantech Podcasters Roundtable, with an all-star roster:
- Watts Up (WU) Co-Host Marie Burgquist
- Suncast (ScP) Host Nico Johnson
- Solar Podcast (SP) Host and Creator Tim Montague
- Freeing Energy (FEP) Host Bill Nussey
- Contractors Corner (CC) Host and Solar Power World Editor-in-Chief Kelly Pickerel
- Solar Coaster (SC) Host and Founder Josh Porter
- Political Climate Change (PCC) Host and Producer Julia Pyper
- What are the biggest changes that 2021 has ushered in so far for clean economy sectors?
- What do you predict will be the background of the typical clean economy CEO five years from now?
- What is the most important or impactful clean economy sector as we sit here today?
- What are your one to three big predictions for the rest of this year?
We captured some of the key exchanges about these questions below.
Mike Casey: I have the honor today of convening a group of cleantech's leading podcast hosts, and we are confident that this is the first gathering of its kind. As many of you know, our quarterly Cleantech editors' round tables have become pretty popular during the pandemic, and as that series progressed, we kept hearing from people who wanted to hear from the podcasters who cover their sectors. And I suspect that the interest in hearing from our guests today has grown because people recognize that as the host of their own shows, each of these podcasters has an enhanced vantage point.
Q: WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHANGES THAT 2021 HAS USHERED IN SO FAR FOR CLEAN ECONOMY SECTORS?
Pickerel - With solar we're emerging from COVID, and we're still being super successful with solar installation. Solar had the biggest first quarter ever, installing five gigawatts in the first three months of this year. That was 58% of all new capacity installed in the U.S. Biden taking office... has definitely helped things along.
Nussey - I live in the Southeast United States, and the climate-denying conversation has faded away. A lot of those folks are back to wearing the tinfoil hats again. It's no longer equally credible to say, “I don't think this is happening.” So I'm excited about that.
Q: WHAT DO YOU PREDICT WILL BE THE BACKGROUND OF THE TYPICAL CLEAN ECONOMY CEO FIVE YEARS FROM NOW?
Burgquist - At its very core, a business is still a business. A CEO and the people that choose to enter into those roles typically have that background of leadership, finance, operations, strategy. And I think the change is really going to come from, again, the evolution of it turning into more of a veteran type industry. Renewables isn't just this pet project that people are dabbling in. It's a viable career option.
Johnson - I think in the next 3-5 years, the power trading and even the oil and gas industry are going to find their way. And they won’t come in through the bottom, but leapfrogging and jumping straight into executive roles because they understand the macroeconomics, they understand the utility industry, they understand how to move electrons around the world.
Q: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT OR IMPACTFUL CLEAN ECONOMY SECTOR AS WE SIT HERE TODAY?
Porter - [H]ydrogen is particularly interesting. I do think there's a question about how hydrogen is going to work in the way that people are talking about it. So what is the real value proposition of hydrogen? Is it related to fuel cells? Is there another route? I'm excited to explore that.
Pyper - Rewiring America has this stat that 40% of our emissions come from decisions made in and around our homes. So I just think about our buildings and what powers them, how we get around them, even down to food systems… they are not my area of expertise, but starting to think of that as part of our movement as well. I think we’ve got to start thinking a little 2.0 here on how these things are.
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR ONE TO THREE BIG PREDICTIONS FOR THE REST OF THIS YEAR?
Nussey - In six months, we will have realized as a nation that when we talk about a clean energy future, that it's not entirely restricted to giant projects with giant government funding and giant transmission projects that won't get done for 10 years and will get stopped in three quarters of the time and don't require giant solar and giant wind and offshore wind. There's an awful lot we can do.
Montague - I'd love to see our country come together around infrastructure. We need a trillion dollars of clean infrastructure a year for the next 20 years. And while that sounds like a big number, the cost of all the floods, fires, droughts, etc. is much, much greater. So I see the light, that we could grab onto this moment and start making a substantive investment in the future.