Archive for May, 2008

ASES Solar 2008

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

I got a chance recently to visit the ASES Solar 2008 show (, and one of the big messages I took away from the show is that the growth in the solar industry involves much more than increasing installation of photovoltaic panels.  The rapid growth of the solar industry also creates rapid growth in many associated businesses:

  • Instruments that predict the performance of rooftop PV systems, charting the influence of seasons, shade from trees, angle, and other factors (see for example)
  • Hardware and software for remote monitoring of PV performance over the internet (see for example)
  • Integration of cooling for PV panels to increase the efficiency of electricity production, while harnessing the heat for solar water heating (see
  • DC powered appliances like refrigerators for efficient off-the-grid living (see
  • Battery systems for power storage (see for example)
  • Innovative business models to reduce the cost to homeowners for residential systems through power purchase agreements (see
  • Mobile emergency power solutions (such as at

And this does not even begin to touch on inverters, systems to improve installation speed and efficiency, and solar water heating and pool heating.  I hope next year’s show is even bigger, and continues to show both the rapid growth and diversification so evident among the green entrepreneurs at Solar 2008.

Back to School

Friday, May 9th, 2008

 College for many is a time of exploring options, seeing what the world has to offer and how each of us can fit in.  This can be both exhilarating and terrifying.  On one hand, students are often told to pursue the practical course, the course that will bring home the bacon.  On the other hand, students will hear the siren song of the life of meaning beyond the 9 to 5, and perhaps be drawn toward a career course, and a life course, that makes a difference in the world.  Going green might just let them do both. I participated this week in a panel on green biotech at the UC San Diego Life Sciences Career Expo, and had a great time meeting some students looking for a way to get involved.   How can college students get involved in the green business movement?  Lots of ways.  One way is to start out working in the green business community for those developing new products.  One of the other panelists at the event was Stephen Mayfield, Associate Dean of Biology at the Scripps Research Institute and one of the founders of Sapphire Energy in San Diego, one of the contenders developing algal production of biofuels.  Mayfield reported that Sapphire is eagerly hiring for many positions, including entry level positions for those from the life sciences.  With oil over $120 per barrel lately, there is no lack of interest in finding a better way to fuel our cars.  Producing fuel from algae is very attractive in many ways, if the cost can be low enough.  There is more work ahead, but those that succeed in delivering these fuels will do very well for themselves even as they fight climate change and reduce many of the pollution problems related to our use of petroleum.   Other students will find ways to start small and start on their own.  There are going to be a great number of green Facebooks out there, businesses that start in dorm rooms and garages and grow rapidly by connecting people to work together providing much needed environmental solutions.   Either way, there has never been a greater time for college students to go green.

Getting Started

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Greetings.  I started this site while I was working on the book 75 Green Businesses.  A lot has happened since I started.  I have been privileged to meet and talk with leaders in the green business community, each working from a different perspective but all sharing a vision of a greener world.  The book is done and coming out in August.  The green economy continues growing at a breakneck pace, with more and more people eager to see how they can join the revolution. 


I wrote 75 Green Businesses with the hope that it will open doors to the green revolution for those who are looking for new opportunities but are not sure where to start.  It’s not the whole story, and for all of the 75 businesses it takes a great deal of work to get a business going, but it’s a start.


As a new feature on the site, I’m starting this blog related to the book, part of my journey forward to a greener future.  I’d like to thank you for joining me in my trip, and invite you to come back again in the future to see how it’s going.  I’ll post stories about the great green entrepreneurs I meet and talk to all the time - send me your stories so we can talk about what you are up to as well.


Like the blog, the green economy is just getting started.  While many things change, two things that remain are the need for solutions to environmental challenges and the opportunities for businesses that can provide these solutions.  I believe now more than ever that we can find solutions, particularly if we work together.  I’m looking forward to chatting and working together.