Ed Feo - Attorney of the Decade (Ep 082) Solar Pioneers Series

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Welcome to Episode 82 of Suncast!

Did you check out this week's Tactical Tuesday, another great one on Energy Storage with SepiSolar CEO, Josh Weiner! Listen to it here! Josh breaks down calculating the $/kWh of energy storage, plus a useful free tool!

Today on SunCast, we're returning to the Solar Pioneers Series with one of the large-scale solar project development greats

Ed Feo, co-CEO of Coronal Energy.

As you'll hear, Ed has a fabled history in the renewables industry. Accolades like "Attorney of the Decade" or "One of the 5 most influential people in Renewable Energy" are earned in the trenches, and Ed's been in the deal room more than just about anyone – having worked on hundreds of deals and over $35B in transactions during his 23 yr tenure leading the Project Finance practice at law firm Millbank.

When I started my career in the solar industry in 2006, there was one attorney who was routinely heralded as the best, and has been credited with helping establish what many consider the modern era of project finance for solar energy.  

Yes, he is indeed, a Solar Pioneer, and today I'm honored to spend time with Ed Feo, one of the founders of Coronal Energy, to better understand not just what makes Coronal different, but why some of my close friends just love working for this guy.

Tune-in as we discuss these topics: 

  • How Ed's favorite past time has greatly influenced his leadership style 
  • What it means to develop "plate discipline" even as a home-run hitter 
  • Details of Coronal's industry-first "solar put" contract with kWh Analytics
  • The 3 things it takes to be a successful development company 

Links & Resources:

Find more info about Ed & Coronal Energy here

Connect with Ed on LinkedIn

Ed's Book Recommendation: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

 
 

 

This episode is brought to you in partnership with Solrates.com, the fast and Free online platform for providing your commercial customers with a credible lease financing proposal. If you have projects over $100K value, and you'd like to see how Solrates can help You quickly and easily deliver a financing proposal to your customers, Head over to www.mysuncast.com/SolRates and click on the Request an Invitation button. 

 

This episode is ALSO made possible thanks to our partner, Alion Energy, the innovative new fully-ballasted solar tracker that is at home in the harshest environments, helping developers reduce project risk, increase yield and keep their solar asset magically clean and productive, and they're still able to compete on price! To learn more about their ballasted tracker & robotic cleaning solutions, please visit www.alionenergy.com, and if you'd like an intro, shoot me an email nico@mysuncast.com 

 

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Josh Weiner, Questions to Ask When Evaluating Energy Storage Cost Per Kilowatt Hour (Ep 081)

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Welcome to Episode 81 of Suncast!

Did you check out the last Suncast episode? It's with James Ellsmoor who was on Forbes 30 Under 30 for Energy! 

Today we have another Tactical Tuesday, short-form conversations with subject-matter experts that give you practical tools for building your solar business or career. 

Josh Weiner is the CEO/Founder of SepiSolar, an SF Bay Area engineering services company that has taken a long view of the integration of storage with solar. He was notably one of the co-founders of another well-known storage company, Green Charge Networks.

Josh has gone on to develop grid-connected energy storage and micro-grid projects with NRG’s Station A team and NEXTracker’s integrated energy storage program, where Josh has played many roles in the development of energy storage products and services, including business, finance, policy, project, product, hardware, and software development.  

Tune-in as we discuss these topics: 

Today's discussion stems from an article (link above) that Josh recently wrote on evaluating the cost/kWh of an energy storage project, and the common pitfalls inherent in this analysis.  Josh has taken some potentially controversial positions on the future of energy storage, and we spend this time getting to the heart of how his team thinks about integrating solar into storage projects, and what technologies will win out in the long-run.

And be sure not to miss this freebie Josh mentioned at the end of today's episode! 

Last, don't miss the very next Episode of SunCast, with Ed Feo - voted one of the 5 most influential people in Renewable Energy! Get on the mailing list to get notified when it's live.

Links & Resources:

4 Questions Engineers Ask When Evaluating Cost per Kilowatt-hour of Energy Storage

SepiSolar

Find Josh on LinkedIn

Follow Sepi Solar on Twitter

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

 

James Ellsmoor, Forbes 30 Under 30 & Caribbean Solar Initiatives (Ep 080)

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Welcome to Episode 80 of Suncast!

Did you check out the last Suncast episode? It's with my friend and mentor, Jason Zook! Listen to it here!

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Today on Suncast, you'll meet James Ellsmoor. James is a social entrepreneur with expertise in sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship in rural, remote and island regions.

The last 6 yrs He's been living, working and traveling in over 40 countries coordinating high-profile international renewable energy installations with government, private and nonprofit sectors. He's on the 2017 Forbes 30 under 30 list for Energy and has been leading the efforts of the non-profit Solar Head of State for the last 5 yrs. 

Tune-in as we discuss these topics: 

  • How James got on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
  • The projects of Solar Head of State
  • How the Carribean is striving to lead the way in Solar.

Links & Resources:

Check out James' monthly newsletter here: www.bit.ly/islandinnovation 

Find more about James here: www.jellsmoor.com  

Solar Head of State

Find James on LinkedIn and Twitter!

Get in touch with James via email:  jellsmoor@solarheadofstate.org 

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Selling Your Last Name 3 Times, Making $1M from Wearing T-Shirts? Jason Zook is Back! (Ep 079)

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Welcome to Episode 79 of Suncast!

Did you check out the last Suncast episode? It's Part 2 of my conversation with Paul Grana! Listen to it here!

On this episode of Suncast, you'll meet my friend and mentor, Jason Zook. Jason might be the best marketer, heck, best sales guy I’ve ever met. He made over $1Million doing something you and I do every day – putting on a t-shirt. 

He sold his last name...3 times! 

He even got his first book sponsored by more than a dozen companies before he ever wrote the first word...or even knew what the book would be about.  And as we discussed in Jason't first interview, he sold his future – yep, everything he has ever created or will ever create – and I bought in. And I'm so glad I did. 

Well, Jason and his super-creative wife Caroline are at it again, only this time they've teamed up to create something together aimed at helping the budding entrepreneur navigate the wandering path toward success.

Tune-in as we discuss these topics: 

  • Some of Jason's early struggles as an entrepreneur who looked like he had it all figured out. 
  • Jason’s advice for someone starting out on their entrepreneurial journey. 
  • Creating products that solve your own problems, and turning them into profit.

If you enjoy this interview with Jason, I'm sure you'd love my first interview with him, way back on Episode 25, check it out here!

Links & Resources:

Check out Wondering Aimfully here

JasonDoesStuff

Jason's Social Media Detox

Recommended Books:

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Helioscope's Paul Grana on growth, metrics and inflection points - Part 2 (Ep 078)

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Welcome to Episode 78 of Suncast!

You can check out part 1 of this 2-part series with Paul, here!

This week we are rounding out our discussion with Paul Grana, co-founder of the much-loved solar design software, Helioscope.  If you missed last week's episode, then you might consider going back to catch it next, as we go over a lot of the foundations and early pivots in Pauls career that led to founding Folsom Labs with his partner Paul Gibbs. 

Known as "The Pauls", they have created one of the most successful SAAS companies in the solar industry, and I asked Paul Grana how on earth they manage to grow to >3000 users with ZERO formal salespeople.

Tune-in as we discuss these topics: 

  • 2 key inflection points along their growth path 
  • Building a product so easy a 10 yr old can use it 
  • How they attracted and activated early adopters 
  • Startup advice for both employees and founders 

Links & Resources:

Check out Helioscope's site

Find Paul Grana on LinkedIn & Twitter

Recommended Books:

The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks Jr.

The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt & Jeff Cox

The Alliance by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha & Chris Yeh

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

How Helioscope Stole AutoCADs Foothold in Solar (Ep 077)

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Welcome to Episode 77 of Suncast!

Did you check out the last Suncast episode? It's a Tactical Tuesday with Scott Sullivan! Listen to it here!

If you've been listening for the last few episodes, we've been talking about tools that today's leading solar companies are using to grow their business, and today I have the honor to sit down with one of my good friends in the solar biz who, along with his partner, has built arguably the most recognizable software for most of you, especially if you've been doing commercial solar for any period of time.

You can check out part 2 of this 2-part series with Paul, here!

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Back in the Adam Gerza episode, I mentioned how easily 50% of the installers I meet are using Energy Toolbase.  I'd be willing to bet that number is actually closer to 80% for today's guest. He hit me with the staggering fact that they have >3000 users!  So whether you are or aren't one of the 3000 who already sings the praises of Helioscope from the rooftops, you'll want to hang around for today's episode with Paul Grana to learn more about how and why this software has gotten such traction in the solar market. 

Links & Resources:

Check out Helioscope's site

Find Paul Grana on LinkedIn & Twitter

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

TT: LinkedIn Ninja Skills from a Master (Ep 076)

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Welcome to Episode 76 of SunCast!

Did you check out my full interview with Scott Sullivan? Listen to it here! As I mentioned in that episode, Scott is a pro who truly understands that your network is your net worth. He has a reach of over 60K in his LinkedIn network alone. As promised I got Scott to do a deep-dive with me on this networking, career and even brand-building tool. 

Tune-in as we discuss these topics:

  • How to Fully Complete your LinkedIn Profile
  • How to Build Your Network and Career using LinkedIn
  • The Immense Power of LinkedIn Premium

Scott Sullivan has built a career on leveraging the value of his connections and honing the skills of sales and relationship building.  

Listen in to learn from Scott and I as we discuss very specific tactics for setting up your own all-star LinkedIn profile.

Be sure not to miss the considerate offer from Scott at the end of today's episode! We look forward to hearing from you. 

Links & Resources:

Don't forget to tweet "#breakitdownscott" along with @sully94534 and @nicomeo on Twitter or LinkedIn to have Scott give you a PERSONAL LinkedIn Profile breakdown! 

Check out my full interview with Scott on Episode 74.

Find Scott on LinkedIn

Scott is on Twitter here: @sully94534

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Separating the Signal from the Noise in Recruiting with Chris Turzo (Ep 075)

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Welcome to Episode 75 of Suncast!

Did you check out the last Suncast episode? It's with Scott Sullivan

While networking is a natural part of the career advancement process, there is another key element that is often overlooked - recruitment. 

Today, we're going to have a closer look at the process of building your ideal team or career with the help of one of the best recruiters I know in the solar industry. Chris Turzo has represented some of the world’s top leaders across the cleantech industry and has helped build some of the most effective teams in the business.

Tune-in as we discuss these topics:

  • The steps to consider both on the hiring and candidate side of the equation.
  • How to find the right recruiter.
  • The 3 fundamentals of a successful venture.
  • Chris's developmental approach to recruiting. 
  • The personality assessments Chris recommends for companies and candidates to find the right fit.
   Chris Turzo (right) is a leading cleantech recruiter & coach.

  Chris Turzo (right) is a leading cleantech recruiter & coach.

Chris has represented some of the world’s top leaders across the cleantech industry and has built the teams leading some of today's top cleantech firms. He is an active seed investor in Silicon Valley start-ups, a member of several boards and a passionate team builder. He founded the firm out of a deep commitment to sustainability and integrity. 

Links & Resources:

Find more about Chris here: christurzo.com

Find Chris on LinkedIn

Email Chris: chris@christurzo.com

DISC Assessment - https://discprofile.com/what-is-disc/overview/ 

Enneagram - https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptions/ 

Leaders are Readers Recommended Book: 

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey

High Performance Habits - Brendan Burchard

Go-to reads for current trends: NYTimes, Economist, GTM

Brendan Burchard's Goal Structuring System:

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Memory tricks for Networking & Life with Scott Sullivan (Ep 074)

Welcome to Episode 74 of Suncast!

Did you check out the last Suncast episode? It's with Adam Gerza of Energy Toolbase. Listen to it here!

Today on SunCast, I'm taking a deep dive into the power of your network with one of the most connected people in the solar business,  Scott Sullivan has built a career on leveraging the value of his connections and honing the skills of sales and relationship building. 

Tune-in as we discuss these topics:

  • Tactics for setting up your own LinkedIn allstar profile.
  • Memory tricks for networking and life.
  • Scott's advice on building sales rapport.

Scott is a trusted advisor, not just for me but for many in our industry. He's a people's person to the core, and he's genuinely one of the best I've met at building trust as a key component to a long-term sales career and focus.

As usual, I ask Scott about his first foray into Solar, his key lessons from mentors and also some questions from my Hot or Hype segment! 

Thanks again for tuning into another episode of SunCast!

Links & Resources:

Find Scott on LinkedIn

Scott is on Twitter here: @sully94534

Some books Scott mentioned - Good to Great & Never Eat Alone

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Energy Toolbase, a sales platform for solar and energy storage projects, w/COO, Adam Gerza (Ep 073)

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Welcome to Episode 73 of Suncast!

Did you check out the last Suncast episode? It's all about Blockchain, Electrification of the Vehicle Industry, Distributed Storage & A Nationwide Carbon Tax. Listen to it here!

Today's guest, Adam Gerza, is the COO of the fast-growing SAAS company, Energy Toolbase, which I know many of my listeners use. Today I get the chance to look under the hood and hear why over 1500 solar companies trust the most critical piece of their sales process to this barely 3 yr old company.

Tune-in as we discuss these topics:

  • What Adam learned from his days as an Energy Trader.
  • The Elevator Pitch for Energy Toolbase.
  • How Energy Toolbase gained their first customers.
  • Adam's predictions for Blockchain.

Thanks again for setting aside THIS time in your day. Enjoy this episode of SunCast.

Links & Resources:

Find Adam on Linkedin

ETB on Twitter

Energy Toolbase Website

Check out the Energy Toolbase Blog: 

https://www.energytoolbase.com/newsroom/blog 

Adam quoted on Forbes.com

Interval Data in Project Evaluation aricle by Adam Gerza: 

Learn from Adam on HeatSpring

 

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Blockchain, The Electrification of the Automobile Industry, Distributed Storage & A Nationwide Carbon Tax (Ep 072)

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Did you check out Tuesday's episode yet with Mike Grunow of Vizn Energy? Listen to it here!

Today on Suncast, we have another "Suncast Soundbyte" - brief morsels of sunlight to get you through the workweek. 

This time it truly IS soundbytes, though!  

You have told me over & over again that you love the Hot or Hype segment of the show, so we took some time to compile some of the more interesting answers to what I consider some of the more interesting questions. It started out in the first 25 or so episodes as a way to get a quick touch on which markets in Latam the guest and I believed were noteworthy - and it is remarkable how spot-on many of those predictions were. I'm not gonna cover the market predictions in this mashup episode, but I encourage you to go back and listen to episodes with Marco Garcia, Lamberto Camacho, Camilo Patrignani, Edgar Arvizu, Pablo Astorga, Jeff Atkins Jigar Shah and many others - their outlook on the markets is great insight - and their episodes are just chock full of lessons you can learn from. 

Today, I decided to focus on just 4 questions - it was actually harder than it might appear - what became apparent is that I actually DON't ask the same questions to every guest! 

These topics did come up several times, so today we'll hear snippets from Travis Simpkins(Ep 056), Stephen Lacey(Ep 028), Suvi Sharma(Ep 063) and Jing Tian(Ep 041) with their thoughts on Blockchain, The Electrification of the Automobile Industry, Distributed Storage & A Nationwide Carbon Tax

Links to Full Episodes:

Travis Simpkins - Episode 56

Stephen Lacey - Episode 28

Suvi Sharma - Episode 63

Jing Tian - Episode 41

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Power vs Energy, the battleground for storage (Ep 071); Tactical Tuesday with Mike Grunow of Vizn Energy

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Welcome to Tactical Tuesdays, a weekly short-form conversation with subject-matter experts to give you the edge in building your solar business and brand. 

This week, I want to highlight a clip from one of our somewhat recent episodes - consider this an In Case You Missed It episode. In Episode 59, Mike Grunow and I discussed an awful lot of excellent topics around the ins and outs of developing and even selling energy storage products. But it was his answer to one question in particular that set the stage for this Tactical Tuesday. Mike is the VP of Marketing for Vizn Energy, a Flow Battery manufacturer.  

I consider Mike one of my go-to experts when I need to really get a level-set on the value proposition of selling either a specific product or into a particular market, vertical, etc. His years at GE, Trina Solar, and numerous startups have honed his ability to craft the story and understand all the variables for bringing a technology to market. 

Mike is more than a marketing genius. He's completely consumed with and dedicated to the idea of moving our world towards a carbon-free grid. And I believe you are going to love hearing the passion in today's show. 

Tune-in today as we discuss:

  • Why is Lithium Ion the dominant technology, and will that continue? 

  • What is a flow battery, and how are these two different/similar? 

  • The 3 critical things to understand about batteries: Duty Cycle, Cooling Cycle, and Electrodegredation 

  • The difference between Power & Energy 

  • How batteries can actually help a customer take advantage of these so-called ancillary services 

Did you enjoy this snippet of my interview with Mike? If so, here's the full interview from Episode 59!  And you can check out the blog for even more links, resources and that funny "Happy Fun Ball" video Mike talks about.

Links & Resources:

Follow Mike and ViZn on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn

ViZn Energy - https://www.viznenergy.com/

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Creating the "Enernet", Brian Patterson of Emerge Alliance (Ep 070) - The evolution of microgrids and a global DC Power standard

I hope you enjoyed the last episode with James Pagonis, the Head of Product at PowerHub.

This week on SunCast, I am resurrecting a conversation I had with Brian Patterson, President of the Emerge Alliance, An open industry association developing standards leading to the rapid adoption of DC power distribution in commercial buildings.

I met Brian at SPI 2017 after asking around a bit about the microgrid they had built to power an entire section of this enormous tradeshow.  Brian gave me a clinic on the history of microgrids, and if you're at all interested in the evolution and indeed renaissance of DC-powered systems, stick around for today's discussion.

This poster was presented by Brian and Emerge Alliance at Solar Power Int'l 2017

Tune In Today As We Discuss Topics Such As:

  • Why Charles Kettering is actually the father of microgrids 
  • Early microgrids in rural America are a template for the modern era 
  • The work Emerge Alliance is doing to address energy access globally 
  • Creating the "Enernet" - aggregating personal and enterprise-level power networks until we have a "world network" 
  • The DC microgrid Emerge created to power an entire area of SPI 2017 

 

 

Links & Resources:

Emerge Alliance

Follow Brian on LinkedIn

Emerge Alliance on Youtube

Presentation by Brian Patterson on "The Enernet"

A great Ted Talk by Paul Savage, one of the Emerge Alliance founders

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

"Technology is Consistent, People Aren't." with James Pagonis of PowerHub (Ep 069)

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I hope you enjoyed my last episode with Farid Dibachi, the Cofounder & CEO of JLM Energy.

On today's episode, I sat down with James Pagonis, the Head of Product at PowerHub.

James is one of the early drivers behind the development and launch of PowerHub: a simple, cloud-based Asset Management solution designed to help renewable energy asset owners manage their projects.

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When I met James down in Chile last Fall, it became clear to me that he is a consummate biz dev professional, a really insightful, thoughtful and conscious questioner who seemed to always be focused on better understanding the needs of the other person in the conversation. That, for me, is the sign of a great salesman as well as a leader, so I asked James if we could do an interview about his thoughts on customer development.

Tune in Today as we Discuss Topics Such As:

  • How to hear through the customer's ask to discern the real need.
  • The very simple question that has helped propel PowerHub's product development team forward.
  • The similarities in product and project development.
  • The value of transparency in the development process.

 

I'll be at GTM's Mexico Solar Summit next week (Feb 13), and If you're gonna be there I'd love to meet you.


Links & Resources:

James on LinkedIn & Twitter

Check out PowerHub's Website

GTM's Mexico Solar Summit

Suncast Episode 65 with Etienne Lecompte, CEO Of PowerHub

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Thanks again for setting aside THIS time in your day. Enjoy this week’s episode of SunCast, with James Pagonis.

Rooftop energy storage ready for prime-time (Ep 068) Farid Dibachi, JLM Energy

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I hope you enjoyed my last episode with Chris Thompson, the Principal at Ipsum Power on the key differences between the solar and storage markets.

Today is another Tactical Tuesday episode! This one is with Farid Dibachi, the Cofounder & CEO of JLM Energy.

I became aware of JLM at last year's SPI where I was on a mission to better understand the innovation coming to market for C&I storage applications. 

If you're unfamiliar with JLM, I want you to teleport yourself back (if you were in the industry back then) to 2006. It was the very dawn of what we now know was the largest residential and Utility installation boom in history, but at the time, systems were designed & installed very differently than they are today. In that day, when I sold my first solar project (a 3.2kW grid-tie system using Mitsubishi 190's), all residential installations still utilized string inverters and the very notion of having an inverter on the rooftop, providing energy conversion at the panel level, seemed still a pipe dream.  Yet, in 2006, a small Petaluma-based company was founded that would challenge the string-inverter status quo, and change the landscape of how residential installations would be done in a matter of less than 5 years. 

I think that is where we are right now with storage, particularly for C&I, and especially after I met JLM. As you'll hear Farid discuss, the storage industry is still a very bespoke, high-skill industry that is anything but construction-ready. 

At least, it was.

That's why I give JLM and Farid my own personal innovation award for best in show at last year's Solar Power International. I think what they're up to could change the face of how storage is installed, and by whom.  

Tune in Today as we Discuss Topics Such As:

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  • Disrupting the Solar + Storage Form Factor 
  • How JLM's software helps the construction tradesman install a complex product, simply
  • How the Phazr product is the first solar panel-level energy storage device at scale

 

Links & Resources:

JLM Energy

See more JLM Videos on Vimeo

Find Farid on LinkedIn

Email Farid Here

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Thanks again for setting aside THIS time in your day. Enjoy this week’s episode of SunCast, with Farid Dibachi.

Chris Thompson - The Sun is Setting on Gas Peaker Plants (Ep 067)

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I hope you enjoyed my last episode with Mark McLanahan where we discussed Asset Management + O&M.

Today on SunCast, we continue our Solar + Storage series with an industry executive who has spent quite a bit of time running power conditioning companies - names you've heard of like Xantrex, AE, First Solar and Eaton.

Chris Thompson has seen it all when it comes to power control systems being implemented in today's advanced energy architecture.
He's here today to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly.

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Tune in Today as we Discuss Topics Such As:

  • How Xantrex pivoted their power business post-Enron.
  • Key Differences between the solar and storage markets.
  • How companies can achieve what Chris has coined "Free Charging" with storage.
  • How solar will benefit from the electrification of the automobile industry.

We get deep, we even get a little nerdy, but I learned a lot about Chris and his work to bring storage and power electronics innovations to market and to scale.

Links & Resources:

Is the Sun Setting on Gas Peaker Plants? 10 Reasons Why Battery-based Energy Storage is Better Than A Peaker Plant

Another great article on the "end" of Natural Gas, by Danny Kennedy of CalCEF

Blockchain Is Reimagining the Rules of the Game in the Energy Sector

Books Mentioned:

The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business - Clayton Christensen

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Thanks again for setting aside THIS time in your day. Enjoy this week’s episode of SunCast, with Chris Thompson.

Best practices from the No.1 O&M Service Provider in N. America (Ep 066)

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I hope you enjoyed my last episode with Etienne Lecompte where we discussed the use of software to maximize solar assets.

Thanks for joining me today for a new episode of Suncast Soundbytes where I aim to bring you brief morsels of sunlight to get you through the workweek

 Mark McLanahan, CEO MaxGen Energy Services

Mark McLanahan, CEO MaxGen Energy Services

On today's episode of SunCast, we're going to continue the theme of Asset Management & O&M by hopping into my time machine and teleporting back to SPI 2017 again. I had the chance there to sit down with my friend Mark McLanahan, CEO of MaxGen Energy Services.

Tune in Today as we Discuss Topics Such As:

  • How Mark combined his personal passion with his work ethic & skills to help kick off the modern age of large-scale solar development.
  • How Mark turned around the Global Services team at SunEdison.
  • The evolution of MaxGen Energy Services to become the number 1 independent O&M service provider in N. America.
  • How AI and Machine Learning are being integrated into O&M

Links & Resources:

Follow Mark & MaxGen on LinkedIn & Twitter.

And, of course, learn more on MaxGen Here.

Read this interesting SolarBuilder article about how they've grown MaxGen Energy Services, to become the No.1 independent O&M service provider in North America / U.S., and the No. 2 O&M service provider globally (according to the GTM Research and SOLICHAMBA report, “Global Solar PV O&M 2017-2022; Markets, Services and Competitors.”)

Learn how Mark grew the ROC of SunEdison from <1GW to >6GW from 2012 to 2014

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Thanks again for setting aside THIS time in your day. Enjoy this week’s episode of SunCast, with Etienne Lecompte.

Using Software to Maximize Solar Assets (Ep 065) - Etienne Lecompte, CEO of PowerHub

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I hope you enjoyed this week's Tactical Tuesday with Hongbing Fang of Longi Solar where we discussed the rise of PERC Mono Technology and also the re-emergence of Bifacial Modules.

On today's episode, I got to speak with Etienne Lecompte.

Etienne is a recognized leader in renewable energy, software development, and regulatory compliance. He founded PowerHub to make managing portfolios of assetS easy. PowerHub is redefining asset intelligence management for the renewable energy industry. Etienne has worked on over 8 GW of wind and solar projects globally.

Tune in Today as we Discuss Topics Such As:

  • How Etienne & PowerHub raised capital.
  • The opportunities and threats currently in the Asset Management space.

At the bottom of this post, you'll find some useful links and a 1 Min video where Etienne explains how and why they made the pivot that became PowerHub.

With PowerHub's permission, I'm republishing here one of their earliest blog posts that I think encapsulates the ethos of "why" for PowerHub, and which addresses

3 approaches you can adopt to avoid common asset management pitfalls.

Enjoy.


SOLAR COMPANIES ARE FAILING AT RISK MANAGEMENT. SEE WHY.

Things are changing. The renewable energy industry is at an interesting point. Regulations are getting more complex, portfolios growing, and technology continually evolving. Energy producers are making the jump from development and construction to operations and maintenance, and they're even beginning to think about mergers and acquisitions.

You should be thinking about maximizing your PV or turbine asset efficiency, and minimizing risk, and if you're not, you're setting yourself up for trouble, especially if you're working with a large portfolio. 

So now you're wondering what risks you're facing, and what opportunities are in front of you.  Well, here they are.

How can I find key project information?

Understanding what you own, and what its associated obligations are, is fundamental to good risk management.  Without fast access to accurate information, how can you work, and make decisions, efficiently?  How does management know what COD was on a given project so they can ensure warranty start times? Do they need to call a project manager dedicated to the project, or can they find this information in a centralized real-time repository?

How do I ensure my assets are compliant?

There are countless project milestones and covenants which require tracking and need to be assigned to project members. Compliance risk with lenders or government agencies is in jeopardy if these milestones are missed. How do you ensure that insurance certificates have been renewed annually or that debt coverage ratios are managed and reported to lenders at the appropriate time? Having these dates in calendars and Excel spreadsheets of team members in different offices and times zones makes systematic oversight difficult or impossible.

Here are 3 approaches our clients have adopted to help avoid these pitfalls

1. Front-end load contractual commitments and milestones

Before projects become operational, all commitments and milestones should be documented in a centralized and readily accessible location. Team members and managers need to be able to monitor these commitments to ensure they are completed, and completed on time. How does your organization ensure this is done? Too often, this is managed by a single person in isolation, when connecting to the broader team is a key success factor. Is this the most effective approach to protect your projects from the various risks and costs which would arise should an obligation not be met? Consider the cost of having your lawyer paper a simple technical default.

2. Manage issues in a predictable and repeatable manner

Having a standardized approach to tackle predictable issues saves times and ensures compliance. For instance, what are the tasks and subtasks that are required to manage a complaint from a neighbor, or an inquiry from a regulator? Mapping these out in advance will lead to a more systematic, repeatable, and, therefore, reliable process for ensuring team members know what steps should be taken to close out an issue. Be ready to answer the way regulators and stakeholders are expecting you to, and make sure you respond in this standardized approach all the time.

3. Have key information at your fingertips

Consider teasing out the key information needed frequently, and storing it centrally with broad access. Information, such as commercial operation dates, warranty end dates, project locations, landlord information, and lender report dates, are always in demand. Why not have them readily accessible, so that employees are not spending hours scrambling for this information when it’s required?

These are all opportunities to consider when transitioning projects from development to operation. Failure to do so could quickly lead to pain points and costs that could have been avoided. These are easy issues to manage for a small number of projects, but become costly and time-consuming quickly as portfolios grow both in size and complexity. A systematic approach to asset management could help you scale and reduce costs at the same time.


Check out this 1 minute clip of Etienne talking about his A-ha moment for PowerHub:

'While working as a consultant in the renewable energy sector, PowerHub co-founder and CEO Etienne Lecompte found teams had no consistent approach to project management. He knew there had to be a way to modernize the process beyond Excel spreadsheets. That's when he had his Aha Moment to start PowerHub.'


Links & Resources:

Follow Etienne on LinkedIn & Twitter.

And, of course, learn more on PowerHub here.

SolarPlaza interview with Etienne - his views on Latin America

PowerHub have some great content on their blog, such as: “How solar asset managers can learn from failure”

Books Mentioned:

Scaling Up - Verne Harnish

Blue Ocean Strategy - Renée Mauborgne, W. Chan Kim

Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Thanks again for setting aside THIS time in your day. Enjoy this week’s episode of SunCast, with Etienne Lecompte.

Tactical Tuesday: PERC & Bifacial solar modules (Ep 064), Detailed explanation of PERC Solar Cells & the Bifacial Modules revival

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I hope you enjoyed last week's episode with Suvi Sharma of Solaria where we discussed their newest innovation of Architectural PV Glass!

On today's episode, I got to speak with Hongbin Fang. 

Hongbin is the Director of Product Marketing at LONGi Solar, a leading dedicated monocrystalline solar cell and module manufacturer.

With the resurgence of Bifacial Modules & the rapid rise of the PERC cell technology, I thought it would be good to bring in an expert on the subject to help us understand the technical bits and why it matters to the industry.

Tune in Today as we Discuss:

  • The rise of PERC Mono solar cell technology - what is it, and why should we care?
  • The re-emergence of bifacial modules - what's new, and how does it help developers deliver more kWh?

For those of you that like to read and research even more, the following are the sites and insights I collected preparing for this episode. Enjoy.

Let’s first have a look at PERC (Passivated Emitter Rear Cell) Technology & trends:

 In case you're the visual type - here's a decent snippet from SolarWorld's white paper showing the basic difference between normal PERC and bifacial cells.

In case you're the visual type - here's a decent snippet from SolarWorld's white paper showing the basic difference between normal PERC and bifacial cells.

As far back as 2014 GTM was touting the PERC tech as "gaining ground…but price premiums [still] steep."

And in 2015, Sinovoltaics touted that PERC will become the dominant technology!

This article is perfectly geeky and even goes into how PERC cells catch different types of wavelengths. If you really want down the rabbit hole, look no further.

In particular, I learned:

There are three main reasons why the dielectric passivation layer contributes to the increase of efficiency:

  1. The extra dielectric passivation layer reduces electron recombination: Electron recombination is the tendency of electrons to recombine and basically block the electrons from freely flowing through the solar cell, which means it can’t reach its potential efficiency.Electrons generated near the back of the solar cell are now free to move up to the emitter and contribute to more electrical current.
  2. The dielectric layer reflects the light that passes through the solar cell without generating any electrons. By reflecting this light, the photons are given more opportunity to generate electrical current.
  3. The extra dielectric passivation layer increases the solar cell’s ability to capture light: Silicon wafers stop absorbing wavelengths above 1180 nm. In normal solar cells, such wavelengths are easily absorbed by the backside metallization and turned into heat. The extra dielectric passivation layer reflects wavelengths above 1180 nm out of the solar cell, that would normally create heat.
    As you know, heat reduces the solar cell’s conversion efficiency. The dielectric passivation layer reflects wavelengths above 1180 nm out of the solar cell, and helps the solar cell to work more efficiently by maintaining cooler temperatures.


And, that last point was altogether new information to me!


Next we can look at Bifacial Module trends, science and adoption

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This project in China claims to be the largest deployment of Bifacial, at 71MW

SolarWorld actually created something more-or-less worthwhile, this whitepaper on maximizing energy yield from bifacial modules. I particularly liked the easy-to-understand comparison of standard PERC & Bifacial Solar Cells (that first image I used above).

Trina Solar solar is well-known for their extensive testing & thought leadership supporting innovation in solar modules. Here, we have a takeaway from their real-world tests at their factory testing field that include normal installs as well as bifacial modules "on tracker"

The tests measured the bifacial module power output and energy gain with and without a mechanical tracker on three different fields: grass, sand and a white-painted surface.

Using monofacial modules as a baseline the test found that:

  • On grass:  5.2 percent energy gain.
  • On grass with a tracker:  10.57 percent energy gain.
  • On sand:  10.79 percent energy gain.
  • On sand with a tracker:  24.42 percent energy gain.
  • On white-painted surface:  21.9 percent energy gain.
  • On white-painted surface with a tracker:  33.2 percent energy gain.
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As the results show, bifacial modules outperform standard panels in every category, while trackers add even greater energy gains. Further, when combined with a tracker and placed on a white-painted surface, bifacial modules outperform the standard monofacial panels by more than a third!!!

Here's to hoping that's data you can take to the bank!


Links & Resources:

Follow Hongbin on LinkedIn

You can also find the US GM, Archie Flores on LinkedIn

And, of course, learn more on their website - LONGi Solar

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Thanks again for setting aside THIS time in your day. Enjoy this week’s episode of SunCast, with Hongbin Fang.

Suvi Sharma & Solaria are an innovation machine, $200M raised and counting (Ep 063)

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I hope you enjoyed last week's episode with Oleg pushing the envelope on commercial finance.

Today's episode is going to plumb the depths of the entrepreneurial journey with a CEO of a US-based solar module manufacturer who's had his share of failure and success, and most certainly understands how to cross the chasm.

I had the incredible pleasure of sitting down with Suvi Sharma, CEO of Solaria Corporation.

Suvi joined Solaria in 2003 and recruited a world-class management team, developed partnerships with industry-leading solar companies and raised $200 million from strategic financial investors. He just raised another $23 Million for Solaria's latest innovation.

Tune in Today as we Discuss:

  • Solaria's Newest Innovation: Architectural PV Glass
  • How Suvi gave his job to Dan Shugar, then took it back after they spun Nextracker out of Solaria.
  Solaria's Newest Innovation: Architectural PV Glass

Solaria's Newest Innovation: Architectural PV Glass

Links & Resources:

Follow Suvi on LinkedIn

Peter Thiel's book, Zero to One, Ch. 13 "Seeing Green":

Solaria's High-Efficiency Panel Targeting the Resi Market:

http://solarbuildermag.com/pv-modules/comforts-home-pv-module-market-adjusting-better-meet-needs-residential-customer/

Recent credibility for the Solaria XT high-efficiency module:

https://www.altenergymag.com/news/2017/12/08/-solaria-powerxt-high-efficiency-modules-added-to-mosaic%E2%80%99s-solar-financing-platform/27578/

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets. The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Thanks again for setting aside THIS time in your day. Enjoy this week’s episode of SunCast, with Suvi Sharma.