GalaxiesAustin has gained a reputation for leadership in energy and cleantech. Here’s my experience this month of Austin’s fantastic and growing energy industry through events I’ve had the privilege to attend, or will attend soon.

February 1 - Solar 1st Saturday with Imagine SolarI watched this presentation live-streaming on YouTube. CleanTX Foundation’s Executive Director, Andrea Ricaurte, and board member, Tom Ortman, covered the Austin cleantech cluster and the wide range of solar energy applications, respectively. They both illustrated how innovation and partnerships can make things happen. I particularly found the solar PV installation floating on a vineyard’s retention pond a unique solution to make renewable energy reality.Watch the recap on YouTube.

February 6 – DOE Secretary Spoke @ UT-Austin: 
Department of Energy secretary, Dr. Ernie Moniz, made Austin the first stop on his tour of the nation’s cleantech clusters. He seemed to be saying all energy options were on the table, including coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear. He did draw attention to government funding through ARPA-E and FOCUS for renewable energy projects like alternative fuels and solar. Interestingly, the final question came from a petroleum engineering student on commerce issues.

February 17 – CleanTX Forum on Commercial Building Retrofit & PACE:
My kindergartener son and I attended this event with an excellent triple line-up of speakers. David Pogue, Global Director of Corporate Responsibility for CBRE, hailed significant progress in green buildings, but this progress has been mostly with Fortune 500 companies and big cities, so there’s a lot more to be done. Joshua Kagan, Energy Efficiency Operations Lead with Carbon War Room, employed fun visual aids to show how we need to go from beach ball to whiffle ball (about 90% reduction) on worldwide carbon output in the next few decades and energy efficiency is an important player in that game. The “freight train” that brought property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing to Texas, Charlene Heydinger, Executive Director of Keeping PACE in Texas, closed out the evening describing the upcoming roll-out and unusual bedfellows collaborating on PACE, like Dow and EDF (Environmental Defense Fund).

February 20 – UT Energy Forum:
This Thursday I plan to attend the second day of this conference. Thursday’s schedule is half on solar and half oil/gas. Local solar and energy management company, Circular Energy, will be featured as a keynote.

February 21 – Microgrid RODEO (Research on Distributed Electricity Operations) Summit:
This event focuses on developing interests and research on small electric grids for application such as ships, island communities, university campuses, military posts and industrial facilities. I’ll attend the second day of the summit to catch the keynote presentation by Ann Davlin, Director of Development for Carbon War Room and see the UT Center for Electro-Mechanics demonstration microgrid.

March will also offer great opportunities to connect with Austin’s energy scene and beyond with SEEN #17featuring solar and electric vehicles and the Energy Thought Summit with internationally known names like Steve Wozniak and local notables from Austin Energy. I’ll be there!