Solar: Slow-No to the Speed of Light with Scott Sklar, The Stella Group

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Hosted by
Ron Kamen

Ron Kamen has decades of expertise & leadership in catalyzing exponential change in sustainable energy adoption with governments, non-profits, and businesses.

Quantum Quote: “The extraction, conversion and use of energy is the single largest cause of air & water pollution, single largest consumer of clean water, single largest funnel of resources supporting terrorism, and the single largest emitter of greenhouse gases —- time for that to stop.” –Scott Sklar

1st SuperNova.  With wireless Cellular & Internet, if one tower or data center fails, the rest of the system picks up the pieces and keeps everything going. The electric system is following the same path– smaller, more distributed, integrated & self-sustaining.

SuperNova #2. Technology always morphs & evolves. With music, we advanced from vinyl records to cassettes to 8 tracks to cds to dvds to mp3s. Energy is following a similar evolution.

SuperNova #3. Always get several estimates. Check referrals. Were the contractors on time and on cost. Was the customer happy? What would they change? Look for contractors in your state or regional Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) or Renewable Energy Association.

Worst Clean Energy Moment –Many. Scott was ridiculed most of his career. Example: the US Senate Chief of Staff of Appropriations & Energy Committees during the Arab Oil Embargo– “there will never be solar or wind farms.”

“Ah HA!” moment. Solar was originally most cost effective in developing countries & remote areas where people don’t have good access to electricity.

Best Advice: Don’t take things personally. Be thoughtful about what the other person is looking for, and do your best to meet their concerns.

Personal Habit that contributes to success:  Extreme stubbornness & perseverance. “There is nothing like a Fine ‘Whine’ to get what you want.”

Internet Resources:  State & Regional Chapters of the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) for contractors who operate under ethic guidelines. American Solar Energy Society (ASES) for technologies. World Resources Institute (WRI).

Books: Any Amory Lovins book. Lovin’s quote: “Electricity without fire.” (quote: “The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of rocks”). Thomas Friedman: “Hot, Flat & Crowded” & “Lexus & the Olive Trees.” 

WTF or F: Arlington, VA– 5 minutes from DC. Lots of trees, but storms knock down wires. Scott installed solar & batteries– first to run his sump pump to keep his basement dry during storm outages, then for his whole house. Neighbors come to Scotts to drink his scotch & bourbon during power failures. He makes the neighbors who hate solar say why they don’t like it– and admit that it’s cool to have power when everyone else doesn’t. 

What energizes Scott today: New emerging technologies. New Sensors & Apps. Material science renaissance– great for off-shore wind, tidal, wave, & ocean thermal power. Most people live next to rivers & the shoreline – they can now gain 24 hour access to clean power.

Last Advice:“Take a small step and do something. Screw in an LED lightbulb. Get a smart thermostat. Get a small solar system for your garage or garden shed, or some power to run your refrigerator, wifi, & lights so you can ride out power outages. And, you’ll save money every day. The step you take will make the world a better place for your kids. And if you do it, others will too!

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