Posts tagged ‘networking’

2011 May 13 23:20
by roma

Government Represents! and Beet-Powered Solar Cells

Portland Connect Meeting

In the morning, I went to a networking event downtown and met some interesting new people.

Dye-Solar Cells

I've been collaborating on a project to build dye-solar cells with Fievel of The cool thing about dye solar cells is that the titania anode is stained with a natural dye, which is actually responsible for absorbing the visible light. We are considering using beet juice.

Fievel ordered the necessary and not-so-cheap supplies from Solaronix in Switzerland. Today, I went over to his house to start on the project. We drilled 3 mm holes in glass for the purpose of pumping iodine electrolyte between the anode and the cathode after they have been sealed. Additionally, we discussed the roadmap for the project.

Pleasant Surprise

After the Solar Rally at the State Capitol on May 10, I visited the office of Jules Bailey, my district's representative. He wasn't there, so I left him a note expressing my hope that he will support incentives for Oregon's solar industry.

Today, I got a letter in the mail:

2011 May 12 10:52

Rally, Toasting, Job Hunt

Solar Rally

On May 10, I attended a rally in support of incentives for solar energy at the state capitol building in Salem, Oregon. Mac McDowell of organized a carpool from Portland. Andy Kerr, an early adopter who has had panels on his house since 2001, was kind enough to give me a ride down to Portland. Philip Krain, a financial analyst interested in renewables, also came down with us.

Matthew Lind of Advanced Energy Systems did a great job organizing the event. As everyone gathered on the steps, the sun decided to show its support, too.

There was great energy at the event. But, I would have liked to see more people - regular consumers in addition to the solar contractors and environmental advocates.

Andy and I discussed the future of the solar industry on the way back to Portland. On the one hand, the industry needs all the support it can get from the government. On the other, unlike China and Germany, where there's enough political will to effect expansion, federal and state governments' positions change with administrations and business cycles. And there is perhaps no foreseeable end in sight. Perhaps that is an indication that the industry needs to figure out a way to expand without the government's support. Is that crazy?

Job Hunt

I've been networking and learning electricity and solar technologies in full force for one month. Of course, I've still got a lot to learn. My main missing links now are AC electricity and pretty much everything about photovoltaics (want to take the NABCEP course).

Though I've met many great people and learned a great deal, I haven't found many real job opportunities in solar. I will continue to educate myself about solar and participate in as many events as possible, but now have to expand my job search options to encompass other industries. Show me the money!


Yesterday I became a member of EcoVoices, a new toastmasters club organized by Simon Bosley, who I initially met at a Greendrinks event. I look forward to improving my public speaking and presentation skills as a member of this club. I know it'll be fun!

2011 April 29 22:10
by roma

NW Solar Expo - Friday

I volunteered at Expo's information desk after returning from SolarWorld. Quite a bit of networking. I got to see some people I had met before. Chance Currington from SunLightSolar gave me some excellent advice about networking and strategies for learning more about the industry. I also saw Matt Lind from Advanced Energy Systems, whom I met two weeks before at the FutureEnergy Conference. I met some other folks with whom I had interesting discussions.

The exhibitors were mainly solar module, inverter and rack manufacturers, local and regional contractors, roofing companies, and data companies. I'm struck by the absence of Asian PV manufacturers. No Chinese and Japanese companies? Interesting.

I'm volunteering at the Expo again tomorrow and Sunday.

2011 April 26 23:22
by roma

NW Solar Expo and FreeGeek

Attended this session, hosted by Mr. Sun Solar president John Patterson, as well as a session about how to get into the solar industry hosted by Erik Westerholm of Lane Community College. Main takeaway - I should have registered for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Entry-Level course taking place in the adjacent room at the same time (it was filled up when I realized I should have registered for it last week). It's unclear what the next time I'll be able to take this course in the region will be. Perhaps it's just meant to be. Impetus to study independently harder! I mean smarter.

I did make some great contacts.

I took a tour of the FreeGeek facilities in the afternoon. The shop floor was full of energy, with people disassembling electronic components in one area, and assembling computers in another. I liked it!

Right now, I'm brushing up on chemistry so that I can understand exactly how PV cells work. Additionally, Greg of and I plan on building a dye-solar cell, and I need to have a pretty clear understanding of photochemistry before we actually embark on that project. Once I have a clear timeline for that, I'll start FreeGeek's Build Program, in which students are taught how to build a computer.

2011 April 13 20:05
by roma

Future Energy Conference and SolarDrinks

I've been busy volunteering at and attending the FutureEnergy Conference. Monday was orientation. Yesterday I volunteered from early in the morning to early in the afternoon, and then attended two sessions followed by a cocktail hour. People from all the different businesses of the renewable energy industry were at the conference. I had some great conversations and learned that I've got a lot of reading to do. I had a great conversation with Frank, a landscape architect, during the cocktail reception, and he mentioned that his company uses GIS to assess the solar potential of a site. I gotta get back on reviewing GIS.

I then biked to Alberta Street and attended a SolarDrinks networking event. Again, lots of great conversations and contacts.

Sean from Million Monarchs and I talked briefly about his project and I mentioned industrial ecology, which excited him. It dawned on me that becoming familiar with LCA software and methodology may make me stand out from the crowd. After all, the solar industry is up and running, but it doesn't seem like companies are designing panels with disassembly in mind (then again, I don't know anything about that yet).

This morning (Wednesday) I attended a FutureEnergy conference session on solar.