Transportation Innovation Lead, IronOak Energy Capital
Founder, CBC Consulting (Global Transportation/Technology Consulting Firm)
Board Director, Association for Commuter Transportation
What do you do within the renewable energy sector and why is it essential?
I am the Founder for CBC Consulting, a global transportation technology consulting firm. We work with cities and transportation and technology organizations around the world. Our focus is to advance new transportation and municipal infrastructure options that are energy efficient and designed to deliver better mobility and living experiences. Examples include the high speed air/surface transportation options, drone travel, autonomous transport movement, municipal electric vehicle programs, electric buses/trolleys and more.
Can you describe 2 of your most impactful past projects or engagements?
I had the opportunity to be on the Vulcan/USDOT Advisory Council for the Smart City Challenge project in 2016 that promoted smart city planning in 80+ cities across the US. This project emphasized a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in municipal energy grids, the advancement of electric vehicle programs, the launch of alternate transportation options (bike share/EV buses/trucking) and new energy options for cities (wind, solar and hydro power). This project spurred a whole new wave of smart city planning/investment in the US that continues today.
Our firm also developed the first self-driving vehicle simulator comprised of a 3D printed electric vehicle and fully-immersive autonomous vehicle driving experience. We deployed our self-driving vehicle simulator in Seattle last year and have plans to bring this simulator to other facilities/markets in 2017. Our objective is to help educate the public on what it will be like to travel in self-driving vehicles and to gain some insight into the future of vehicle manufacturing - highlighting alternative manufacturing materials that promote energy efficiency and environmental sustainability via recycled vehicle platforms.
What are you most excited about for the renewable energy industry in 2017-2018?
What are you most concerned about for the renewable energy industry in 2017-2018?
The Paris Climate Meetings in late 2015 represented a groundbreaking moment for the future of renewable energy adoption. The gathering of 183+ countries and the subsequent agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to achieve a 2-degree Celsius reduction in global warming was a huge first step toward reducing fossil fuel consumption around the globe. The outcome of these meetings was a global recognition that change is required in our energy production and consumption.
Fast forward to February 2017. We are now seeing the Trump Administration signing executive orders to reverse advancements in alternative energy measures in favor of traditional coal, oil and natural gas exploration. Executive orders to approve the development of the Keystone Pipeline, the Dakota Access Pipeline and renewed shale fracking represent a stark reversal in earlier federal policy intended to promote renewable energy adoption. None of these Executive Orders align with the goals of the Paris Climate meetings and represent a roll-back in US GHG reduction goals.
In addition, the Trump Administration has proposed the removal/reduction of EPA standards and guidelines that impact air quality restrictions for coal facilities and pave the way for a renewal in coal exploration.
Lastly, the new Department of the Interior is being urged by the Trump Administration to reduce restrictions on offshore oil exploration and oil fracking operations by now allowing possible access to federally protected land for more energy exploration.
None of the above activities help encourage renewable energy, better air quality, responsible management of federally protected land and a general focus on improving the environment.
What is one trend in the renewable energy sector that few are paying attention to?
Advancements in Graphene over the last 2-3 years are introducing new possibilities for renewable energy via hydrogen energy, kinetic energy and other fuel cell options. Graphene has the potential to be a real game changer in energy, industrial manufacturing, medical research, consumer electronics, transportation and more.
Why are you motivated to do you what you do?
The global warming trends of the last 10-15 years clearly cannot continue without causing irreversible harm to our environment, our long-term quality of life and our ability to sustain a planet that can support a rapidly growing population. The adoption of renewable energy measures is not a fad or trend but truly a recipe for a sustainable environment that balances growth with responsible resource management for generations to come.
What has surprised you most about your career in the renewable energy sector?
I never thought I’d see the day when solar energy could power an entire airport in India. Nor could I envision that a car could be 3D printed, equipped with an electric motor and driven down the street. The advancements in new technology and energy are changing how we move around the planet in ways I never thought were possible.
What are 1-2 pieces of advice you would give someone thinking about entering the renewable energy industry today?
The renewable energy market is a gold mine of opportunity. This market represents perhaps some of our biggest potential breakthroughs in energy development, transportation, medical research, clean water options and urban development.
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