092 Effective Project Execution with Stephen Smith of Solvida

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Welcome to Episode 92 of Suncast!

Today on SunCast, we are spending time with a fellow Solar Warrior who's been in the trenches since the 90's and has developed a great business helping solar developers hone in on and tighten up their process.

Stephen Smith is an entrepreneur and solar developer from the SF Bay Area who had the good fortune of being able to walk to work back in the early 2000's when he was hired on to a then-unknown Berkeley-based solar company - Powerlight. Stephen has since managed Gigawatts of solar installations, and provides his customers and the market generally a path to predictable & effective project execution.

Solvida Energy Group, founded in 2009,  is a business to business consulting company whose products include a robust proprietary financial model and series of training modules designed to help companies develop and perfect their techniques and skills in Utility Scale Design Engineering and Project Optimization

Listen in to hear:

  • The 2 biggest hurdles developers encounter early in a project 
  • Risks inherent in solar development and how you can mitigate them 
  • Some strong opinions around project component selection, including what module application Stephen thinks is destined to rule the utility market 
  • Stephen's advice on how to become financially successful in solar 

Join the Tribe? Check out Episode 86, in which I explain how YOU can become an Energy Tribe member and support the growth and stability of SunCast moving forward! www.mysuncast.com/member to join today!

Resources:

Follow Stephen & Solvida on Twitter & LinkedIn

A great article by Stephen on The History and Value of Trackers for Solar Projects

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

091 (TT) DNV GL "PV Module Reliability Scorecard": What It Is, Why It Matters

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Welcome to Episode 91 of Suncast!

Today's episode is focused on a tool that you can use to help you in your solar PV module procurement process, a free report produced by Tristan Erion-Lorico and his team at DNV GL called the PV module reliability Scorecard. The 4th generation of the Scorecard was just released, and it's a fantastic benchmark to help you understand how to avoid some of the common pitfalls experienced by developers of all sizes when buying solar PV modules. 

Tune in to learn: 

  • What core elements make up a bankable and reliable Bill of Materials (BOM).
  • What the key contributors to solar module degradation are.
  • The one ingredient in a solar module that made a 12% difference in production results for one of the manufacturers on the report.
  • The one thing that is essential prior to your PV module purchase.
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Resources:

Connect with Tristan on LinkedIn

More on the DNV GL Module Reliability scorecard: https://www.dnvgl.com/news/2018-pv-module-reliability-scorecard-121786

Or download it here: www.dnvgl.com/pv-scorecard

Join the Tribe? Check out Episode 86, in which I explain how YOU can become an Energy Tribe member and support the growth and stability of SunCast moving forward! www.mysuncast.com/member to join today!

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

090 PV Module Evaluation Pro Tips w Tristan Erion-Lorico of DNV GL

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Hey Solar Warrior, and Welcome to Episode Number 90 of SunCast. I'm your host, Nico Johnson, and I'm so glad to have you back. Every week, SunCast provides tomorrow's cleantech leaders with insight and ammunition to carry you through your daily battles.

If you missed Episode 86 or last week's Patreon launch, I'd like to invite you to Join the SunCast Tribe. If you believe in the value of what SunCast brings to the world, please check out that episode, and then head over to www.mysuncast.com and click on the Become a Member button to learn more. A special shout out to Tribe member Frederic Rivollier up in Ontario, Canada! We're going to be opening up the private facebook group next week, and I am also toying with bringing the Tribe members into my private Slack group where I congregate with past guests of SunCast. I'd love your feedback Solar Warrior, do you use Slack? Would you prefer a Slack group over Facebook?

Today on SunCast, we are demonstrating the value of being engaged in the SunCast community. Tristan Erion-Lorico is a dedicated listener to the show, and this episode in part spawned from his reaching out to make some suggestions for improving the show. But more than that, he has a fantastic career story for those of you who might feel like you're not on the Jigar Shah or Dan Shugar trajectory. He's ascended to one of the top roles in his field, one where the majority of his peers have a PhD, and I think even many of his colleagues would be surprised to learn his formal education level. You see, it's not always about the degrees and titles. Tristan, like many of you, is an infinite learner, and he attributes that as one of his keys to growth and career success.  Along the way we discuss how having a family early in his life pushed this hustling kid-entrepreneur into the corporate world, and how his curious spirit and eagerness to grow has propelled him to be Head of the Solar Module Business Unit for one of the most recognized engineering firms in the solar industry, and arguably in the world - DNV GL.

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Stay tuned as we discuss:

  • Keys to evaluating your module suppliers
  • Top contributors to solar module degradation
  • The missing link to BNEF's Tier 1 Module ratings
  • And Lessons from an overly ambitious corporate exit

 

 

 

Thanks again Solar Warrior, for setting aside THIS time in your day. Please enjoy this week’s episode of SunCast, with Tristan Erion-Lorico.

Resources:

Connect with Tristan on LinkedIn

More on the DNV GL Module Reliability scorecard: https://www.dnvgl.com/news/2018-pv-module-reliability-scorecard-121786

Or download it here: www.dnvgl.com/pv-scorecard

Join the Tribe? Check out Episode 86, in which I explain how YOU can become an Energy Tribe member and support the growth and stability of SunCast moving forward! www.mysuncast.com/member to join today!

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

How a Downed Boeing Dreamliner and a New York 7/11 Influenced the Solar Industry, with Josh Weiner, CEO of SepiSolar (Ep 089)

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Welcome to Episode 89 of Suncast!

Today's episode is Part 2 of an interview with Josh Weiner of SepiSolar, so if you didn't listen yet to Episode 88, I would recommend you start there. Also, did you check out last weeks episode where I give you the chance to join me in helping build Suncast? If not, Listen to it here! 

You can learn more about becoming a member of the Suncast Energy Tribe by watching my video here!

Today on SunCast, we continue to dive deep with Josh Weiner the CEO/Founder of SepiSolar, a SF Bay Area engineering services company that specializes in the integration of energy storage with solar.  

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Josh is the CEO/Founder of SepiSolar, a Bay Area engineering services company that has taken a long view on the integration of storage with solar.

Josh began his solar career at Akeena Solar, one of the leading turnkey residential and commercial solar contractors from 2002 to 2009. Shortly after joining the Akeena team in 2005, Joshua quickly took on a supervisory role within the company’s operations departments, opening several remote offices nation-wide and scaling the company’s staffing and infrastructure needs upon Akeena’s IPO filing.

SepiSolar have designed and been responsible for: 

1,000+ (5+ MW) residential systems  

200+ (50+ MW) commercial, industrial, agricultural systems 

12+ (70+ MW) utility-scale projects 

15+ (8+ MWh) utility-interactive energy storage systems

Josh was sincerely one of the most interesting and fun interviews I've done, and I hope you feel the same after today's discussion.

Tune in to Learn:

  • How a 7/11 in New York became the pivot point for the storage industry 

  • How a downed Boeing Dreamliner changed Josh's career trajectory

  • A clear case for including energy storage in the Investment Tax Credit 

  • One of the best answers to the Crystal Ball question in the history of SunCast, so be sure to stay to the very end! 

Resources:

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn

Check out SepiSolar's site here: SepiSolar

You can get the free energy storage cost analysis tool Josh alluded to in the episode by going to the Sepi Solar blog, here.

Join the Tribe? Check out Episode 86, in which I explain how YOU can become an Energy Tribe member and support the growth and stability of SunCast moving forward! www.mysuncast.com/member to join today!

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

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

Battery Net Metering changes everything, Josh Weiner, CEO of SepiSolar (Ep 088)

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Welcome to Episode 88 of Suncast!

Did you check out last weeks episode where I give you the chance to join me in helping build Suncast? If not, Listen to it here! 

You can learn more about becoming a member of the Suncast Energy Tribe by watching my video here!

From Akeena's IPO and co-founding Green Charge Networks to helping Nextracker build the next generation of hardware-embedded energy storage, Josh and his Enginerds at SepiSolar have done it all.  Josh first appeared on SunCast in the Tactical Tuesday Episode #81, where he dispelled myths about battery chemistry and helped us understand the true value of adding storage to a solar project.  He's is the CEO/Founder of SepiSolar, a Bay Area engineering services company that has taken a long view on the integration of storage with solar.

Josh began his solar career at Akeena Solar, one of the leading turnkey residential and commercial solar contractors from 2002 to 2009. Shortly after joining the Akeena team in 2005, Joshua quickly took on a supervisory role within the company’s operations departments, opening several remote offices nation-wide and scaling the company’s staffing and infrastructure needs upon Akeena’s IPO filing.

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He was also one of the co-founders of another well-known storage company, Green Charge Networks, which I teased in the Tactical Tuesday episode.

Tune in to learn:

  • SepiSolar’s foundation story and what separates them from others 
  • Lessons learned from Akeena Solar's IPO and dramatic growth 
  • The not-so-strange connection between Music & the Solar Industry? 
  • The incredible impact a neighbor can have on a young mind 

Josh’s energy storage career began as a co-founder of Green Charge Networks, which was awarded a $10M grant by the US DOE to deploy 8 micro-grid and utility-interactive solar + energy storage + electric vehicle chargers projects for the purposes of optimizing behind-the-meter electricity usage. After exiting Green Charge Networks (now owned by Engie) in 2015, 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.  

Resources:

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn

Check out SepiSolar's site here: SepiSolar

You can get the free energy storage cost analysis tool Josh alluded to in the episode by going to the Sepi Solar blog,

Join the Tribe? Check out Episode 86, in which I explain how YOU can become an Energy Tribe member and support the growth and stability of SunCast moving forward! www.mysuncast.com/member to join today!

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

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

Join the Tribe (Ep 086)

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Welcome to Episode 86 of Suncast!

Since I started SunCast, I've received hundreds of thank-you's, dozens of positive ratings/reviews, and more high fives and pats on the back from industry friends than I can remember. 

Today, I'm giving you the chance to join me in helping build Suncast even more.

To find out more about becoming a member of the Suncast Tribe, visit mysuncast.com/member

As always, thanks again for setting aside THIS time in your day.

Solar Aerial Inspections with Heliolytics CEO Rob Andrews (Ep 087)

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Welcome to Episode 87 of Suncast!

Did you check out last weeks episode with Mike Silvestrini? If not, Listen to it here!

Today on SunCast, we're going to discuss with Rob Andrews how his Canadian startup, Heliolytics, is improving the way operating assets are managed and optimized for long-term yield.  

Hang tight as we explore: 

  • Why solar plant inspection matters and how it's been done historically 
  • How different aerial inspection methods compare 
  • Real data on solar site failure rates 
  • What Rob sees as the next frontier for solar assets

Rob is the CEO and co-founder of Heliolytics, a technology company developing advanced inspection tools for renewable energy facilities. 

Rob has a PhD in mechanical engineering focused on PV system modeling and performance analysis.

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Heliolytics spawned from a solar energy performance consulting firm he started in grad school in which he worked with solar energy clients globally to develop system monitoring and maintenance plans, optimize plant performance, and integrate new technologies. 

Resources

Find Rob on LinkedIn & Twitter

Get in touch with Rob via Email: rob.andrews@heliolytics.com

Follow Heliolytics on Twitter

Check out Heliolytics website

Rob's Book Recommendations:

Enders Game by Orson Scott Card

Slide Rule by Nevel Shute


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 commerical solar 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 brought to you by 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

Selling the Largest US Solar Company - with Mike Silvestrini (Ep 085)

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Welcome to Episode 85 of Suncast!

Did you Check the Tactical Tuesday  (#81) several weeks ago with Josh Weiner? Tor Valenza summed it up well on Twitter saying, "If you're just getting started adding storage to your solar projects, give this a listen". I mention it because I'll be bringing Josh back next week for a full-length interview, and this one is not-to-be-missed! Somehow we managed to whittle a nearly 3 hour conversation into under an hour of edited tape, so it's jammed packed with goodness.

Today on SunCast, I had a chance to catch up with one of my oldest friends and colleagues in the industry. If you're unfamiliar with his name, or the company he started and recently sold for well into the 8+ figures range, then you should at least be curious to learn how he took his FIRST company to a nearly half-billion-dollar valuation and exit, and in-so-doing achieved the status of "No. 1 ranking US Solar Company in the US" by SolarPowerWorld in 2016.   

Stick around as we dig into a variety of topics, including: 

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  • What contributed to becoming the largest C&I solar company in the US 
  • How his young, inexperienced team pulled together some of the biggest deals in our industry at the time 
  • The old-school tactics he employed that led to a very successful business and exit 
  • And more lessons and takeaways than I can capture here in bullet points! 

Mike co-founded Greenskies in 2008, then managed the company’s transition from a start-up to a leading commercial and industrial ("C&I") solar development firm in the United States with a customer base that included Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Amazon, AT&T, Target, schools and universities, municipalities  and several of the largest electric utilities in the USA. He sold that business and its renewable energy assets in 2017. As the company’s President and CEO for eight years, he was responsible for the architecture and management of the business from deal origination, project financing and EPC through asset management, accounting and treasury. 

Mike was also directly responsible for closing over $500mm+ of C&I solar project finance across three funds, building and owning over 400 solar projects ranging from 200kW to 5MW, creating industry-leading O&M and asset management departments and expanding the company's footprint across 23 states from California to South Carolina. Greenskies was ranked #1 by market share for commercial and industrial solar developers by Greentech Media and was named one of the Best Places to Work by the Hartford Courant in 2016. 

Resources:

Get in touch with Mike via Email: mike@energea.com 

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn

Find Energea here

Mike's non-profit, Big Life Foundation

Greenskies named No.1 ranking US Solar company

The Sika Sarnafil project we discussed in the episode

Greenskies Acquired December 2017

Mike is one of the Connecticuit 40 under 40

 

Speaking of goodness, 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 commerical solar 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 brought to you by 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

  

Working to Live, a Framework for Balance and Productivity – with Jason Zook (Ep 084)

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Welcome to Episode 84 of Suncast!

Did you check out last weeks episode with yours truly, me? If not, Listen to it here! I drill down on the ways that you have been losing in your negotiations, in business and life, and the subtle ways you can fix it, and stop missing out on the spoils of your labor. 

Today's episode is with my first 3-time returning guest, Jason Zook, a mentor and friend who I've learned from a ton over the last 3 years. He was most recently in Episode 79 talking about his entrepreneurial journey and creating profitable products that solve real-world problems. But I wanted to have him back one more time to discuss the remarkable ways he and his wife Caroline are very intentional in their philosophy of the notion of work-life balance, or as Jason calls it, Working to Live. 

Stay tuned to learn:

  • Jason's approach to work-life and framework for achieving balance 
  • What they do every Monday and Friday to lock in the rewards 
  • Jason's strategy for finding work he truly loves 
  • The new software tool they use to help balance their finances, budget, planning, and well…life. 

While Jason isn't a solar expert, I know that many of you out there on your solo entrepreneur path will truly appreciate the sage advice and wisdom he shares. And I also believe you'll want to check out his latest project with Caroline. They call it Wandering Aimfully, and as we teased in the last episode, it's finally launched and open to the public. 

Would you like to hear more about how you can help ensure the long-term success and growth of this podcast?

I am launching an exciting new way for you to partner with me on this journey, and I'll be explaining it to my email subscribers first, starting with the emails going out this week.

Next Tuesday I'll have a brief episode specifically dedicated to explaining what this upcoming launch is all about. But for now, I hope your life is enriched with yet another tactical and timely episode.

To subscribe to my mailing list, head to https://www.mysuncast.com/negotiate, you'll not only hear the upcoming announcement before anyone else, you'll gain access to a cheat sheet based on the content in last weeks episode.

Resources:

Wondering Aimfully, Jason's New Venture

 The amazing Airtable (a mixture of project management software and spreadsheets)

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

Never Split the Difference (Ep 083)

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Welcome to Episode 83 of Suncast!

Did you check out last weeks episode with Ed Feo? If not, Listen to it here!

Today we're going to drill down on the ways that you have been losing in your negotiations, in business and life, and the subtle ways you can fix it, and stop missing out on the spoils of your labor.

There's no formal guest today, but instead, we get a virtual guest by the name of Chris Voss, author of Never Split the Difference – possibly one of the best books I've read in a decade. I've personally used the tools I've learned from it to negotiate a 150% fee increase in a contract negotiation, more than once.

It's the single most recommended book, by me, to all my business colleagues as well as family & friends, and for good reason. It's changed how I do business and has materially changed my life, and I've been waiting for a good time to share it with you because YOU deserve to have this information in your hands!  

After we've studied this material together, you'll know:

  • The keys to spotting liars and decision makers
  • The power of No
  • The three types of Yes's
  • A self-effacing strategy that works every time
  • And the 2 magic words you need to hear in every negotiation (That's right, the magic words) 

Before we dive into today's conversation:

I've had many many of you email, text, WhatsApp and even come up in person and congratulate or encourage me for SunCast, and the most common refrain is, "Nico, don't stop, what you're doing is great, and it's important." And that encouragement and feedback have been a major reason why I've persevered with this passion project over the last 2.5 yrs and 82 episodes. 

But, real costs... each month, I spend over $1100 to make sure that the episode is the highest quality it can be, often times flying or driving to interview guests in person.  

I'm announcing here for the first time that next week I'll be launching a funding campaign for SunCast. The details will be laid out in an upcoming email to my email subscribers

I look forward to sharing more, so join the mailing list now so you don't miss the announcement in the next couple of episodes.

Join the mailing list here and receive a free cheat sheet to own your next negotiation.

-

Chris Voss was the FBI’s lead international hostage negotiator and he’s the author of an excellent new book: Never Split The Difference

Think you know what really influences people? Maybe you’ve even read other books on the subject before? Well, you’re probably making a lot of mistakes. Chris has some of the most counterintuitive — and effective — techniques you’ve never heard about. 

Lessons:

Don’t Try To Get Them To Say “Yes”

People are reluctant to say “yes” because it makes them commit to something. It makes them defensive.

When people say “no”, they feel they’ve protected themselves. “No” is protection. “Yes” is commitment. People worry about what have I just committed to by saying yes. But when you say “no”, you don’t commit to anything. Since you just protected yourself, you have a tendency to relax. People actually become a lot more open if they feel they’ve protected themselves. 

“Start with NO”  

A lot of people think you get people to say easy “yes”-es so that when the situation gets more difficult, they are more primed to say “Yes”. 

“Not true,” said Chris. “People are too primed now to say ‘yes’. They know what you are up to. Get them to say ‘No’ first. That’s the starting point.” 

Ok, well How can I do that? 

“Ask them a question like, ‘Do you want this project to fail?’ or ‘Is this situation not going to work out for either side.’ ” 

They don’t want to fail, so they will say “No”. Now you can start to find common ground.

“How Am I Supposed To Do That?” 

Playing dumb works. In fact, being helpless works too. Asking “How am I supposed to do that?” is deceptively powerful. 

It gets them to solve your problems for you and in a way they deem acceptable.  

Calibrated “How” questions are a surefire way to keep negotiations going. They put pressure on your counterpart to come up with answers, and to contemplate your problems when making their demands… The trick to “How” questions, is that correctly used, they are gentle and graceful ways to say “No” and guide your counterpart to develop a better solution — your solution. 

By getting the other side to think about your situation it very often gets them to grant concessions. And they’re concessions that they’re okay with and will likely stick to because it was their idea to offer them.  

Preparation is Key

List your negatives down on a piece of paper. Figure out your terms and conditions in advance. 

Do some basic work so when you come up with specific numbers you can back it up. 

Make a preparation sheet. 

You Need To Do An “Accusation Audit” 

If it’s an argument with a loved one or a business negotiation that’s headed south, the other side probably has made some accusations about you. “You don’t listen” or “You’re being unfair.” 

And the common response is to start your reply with “I’m not ____.” You deny their feelings. Boom — you just lost the patient, doctor. They now assume you’re not on the same page. That they can’t trust you. 

So what does Chris say to do instead? List every terrible thing they could say about you. 

The fastest and most effective means of establishing a quick working relationship is to acknowledge the negative and defuse it. 

This is beating your counterpart to the punch on something they will likely use as an attack or counterargument. 

The Two Magic Words They Need To Say 

“That’s right.” When they say that, you know they feel you understand them. That’s rapport. Now emotions are on your side. Now you’re collaborators trying to solve a problem, not warring tribes.

Getting them to say That’s Right is a really powerful connection to be able to establish. They’re telling you they feel connected to you, and they feel a great rapport with you. If there’s anything that’s going to move them in your direction swiftly it’s when they say, “That’s right.” 

Resources:

Chris Voss' book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It

Check out James Altucher's interview with Chris Voss

Visit The Black Swan Group to find out more about Chris Voss

Find Chris Voss on Twitter

Take 90 seconds to see how Alion Energy's novel A-frame plus ballasted tracker design can elevate your solar construction game and speed your cash cycles. Check out their new video at www.mysuncast.com/alion 

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

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