TAEBC’s “Opportunities in Energy” forum focused on entrepreneurship and innovation

NOTE: Originally published on Teknovation.biz

By: Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Nearly 80 people registered for the “Opportunities in Energy” forum organized by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC).

Held at The Square Room in Downtown Knoxville, the theme of this year’s annual event was entrepreneurship and innovation. The nearly three-hour program featured a fireside chat with two leaders in the region that I had the privilege of moderating as well as pitches from three start-ups in the Energy Mentor Network coordinated by TAEBC and funded by Launch Tennessee.

Beverly Davenport, the new Chancellor of the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus, and Craig Blue, Director of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), comprised the fireside panel that I facilitated. The focus was on the foundations their institutions have established, the plans they have for the future to help Tennessee build on its national reputation for excellence in the advanced energy sector, and how their innovation efforts can help create new businesses and expand existing ones.

Read the full story here.

UT Earns Top EPA Award

The University of Tennessee has received a 2017 green power leadership award from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The annual awards recognize America’s leading green power users for their commitment to advancing the nation’s voluntary green power market.

Green power is electricity generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact hydro. Using green power helps accelerate the development of those sources in the United States and advance the American green power market.

The EPA presented UT Sustainability Manager Preston Jacobsen an Excellence in Green Power Use Award at the 2017 Renewable Energy Markets Conference in New York City in October.

“This is UT’s top environmental and sustainability award to date, and we look forward to achieving a higher standing in the years to come as our campus moves toward a more sustainable place to learn, live, and work,” Jacobsen said.

In addition, UT ranks 35th on EPA’s National Top 100 list, and first on the Top 30 College and University list. Each list highlights EPA Green Power Partners using the most renewable energy annually as of July 2017.

“Being honored among the nation’s top green power users is affirmation that our program is among the nation’s best, but to receive this latest award is quite an accomplishment for our university,” Jacobsen said. “It places UT among the ranks of Google, Apple, and Microsoft as organizations who not only champion sustainability but put these technologies into action.”

UT was one of only eight organizations nationwide to receive an Excellence in Green Power Use Award.

UT is currently purchasing nearly 246 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which is enough to meet 95 percent of the organization’s electricity use.

UT became an EPA Green Power Partner in 2005.

Read the complete story here.

DOE webinar reveals opportunities, challenges in southeast for advancing clean energy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) hosted a “Regional Energy Technology Innovation” webinar in late September inviting leading research universities to present their findings examining the clean energy technology innovation in their respective regions.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-2-43-40-pmThe universities held forums earlier this year and each forum was attended by leaders from federal, state, and local governments; industry, DOE national laboratories; academia; and nongovernmental organizations.

The forums highlighted the differences among regions in terms of their energy needs, resources, and vulnerabilities; customer demands, markets and capabilities. A key conclusion of the regional forums is that clean energy solutions must be tailored to meet regional needs.

These forums were held in part of DOE’s “Mission Innovation.” Mission Innovation is a multinational initiative to dramatically accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation that was announced at the United-Nations climate-change conference in Paris on November 30, 2015.

doeDuring the webinar, six different regions of the U.S. including the mid-atlantic, southwestern, northwestern, northeastern, midwest, and southeastern made presentations and spoke about the key takeaways, opportunities, priorities, challenges and next steps within their regions to achieve the driving force needed for maximum clean energy technology innovation.

The southeastern presentation was done by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The university’s vice chancellor of research and engagement, Dr. Taylor Eighmy, spoke about how the southeast’s area of expertise involved government-university-industry-national lab collaboration as well as rapid innovation and tech to market movement.

Dr. Eighmy said some of the major opportunities for the southeast include supportive state governments and a supportive investment community and innovator ecosystems. The southeast also has a strong industrial influence and their supply chains are beneficial.

According to Dr. Eighmy’s presentation, some of the main priorities and clean energy research and development focus areas for the southeast include advanced manufacturing, integrated grid management, bio-derived fuels and CO2 capture, nuclear energy and sustainable smart communities.

However, one of the greatest challenges the southeast faces in terms of advancing clean energy technology innovation is a need for improved business processes focusing on the speed of connecting industry to science and technology.

As the southeast moves forward, it will direct strategic collaborations tied to regional innovation needs, workforce needs, and especially innovation accelerators and private/foundation investment efforts in the clean energy technology space.

TAEBC Hosts Panel Discussion with Nationally Recognized Energy Innovators

Some of the nation’s most powerful thought leaders in energy innovation convened in Chattanooga late last month, including the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council. More than 150 attendees from universities, industry and federal agencies participated in the Southeast Regional Energy Innovation Workshop.

The forum, designed to advance clean energy technology innovation in the region, was hosted by the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and provided an opportunity to explore ways universities, industries and national labs and other federal agencies can drive rapid innovation of technologies for use in the marketplace.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 9.43.45 PMTAEBC hosted a panel discussion titled Clean Energy Innovations, moderated by TAEBC’s Cortney Piper. Other panelists included Tom King; ORNL; David Wade, COO, EPB; and Platt Boyd, CEO Branch Technology.

The panel addressed such topics as how working with a national lab and regional universities can help solve problems by focusing on a key problem.

Panelists offered the top three best practices to engage with national lab and research universities including:

• Collaborating on a specific problem (for example, grid modernization and 3-D car printing);
• Collaborating on a big problem (organizations need to think on a large scale, engaging and using the appropriate resources);
• Agreeing on a clear objective and clear vision (all parties must agree on the overall goal and outcomes).

Other topics covered during the panel included the existing and potential economic impact on the region from clean energy innovations and the most pressing clean energy question for the Southeast.

Panelists agreed that resources, affordability and reliability remain the most pressing concerns for clean energy development. Participants referenced TAEBC’s Economic Impact Report, reinforcing the fact that Tennessee is well-positioned to become a national and international leader in the $1.3 trillion global advanced energy marketplace.

Overall, the panel concluded that in order for clean energy innovation to continue to expand throughout the region, impact must be demonstrated and investment must be made on full scale deployments to show the impact of new innovations.

In addition to workshops, ORNL announced during the forum that the national lab would be expanding to the Chattanooga area by opening a Downtown office. ORNL Director Thom Mason said that ORNL will continue to partner with EPB, a municipally-owned utility, on researching the performance, security, and efficiency of Chattanooga’s electrical system. This research can be applied to make power systems nationwide cleaner, safer and more efficient.

The Southeast Energy Innovation Workshop further supports TAEBC’s mission of championing advanced energy development in the region, recognizing that the area is uniquely situated with its focus on advanced manufacturing for automotive, aerospace and wind; carbon fiber manufacturing; nuclear energy technology development; grid technology enhancements; microgrids, photovoltaics; materials by design; and energy storage.

TAEBC appreciated the opportunity to lead a discussion during the forum and will continue to participate in similar workshops that support the mission of supporting advanced energy development as an economic driver in the region.

To view photos from the event, click here.

A Booming Advanced Energy Economy, 8.1 Million Jobs and Counting

 As the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council’s Economic Impact Report foretold in 2015, the advanced energy sector has but one direction to move in and that’s up.

A recent report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency – the Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2016 – shows that more than 8.1 million people worldwide are working in the global renewable energy industry. Renewables are one part of the advanced energy sector, but a growing sector at that.

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.20.27 PMAnd, in the U.S., for the first time jobs in solar energy overtook those in oil and natural gas extraction, helping drive a global surge in employment in the clean-energy business as fossil fuel companies began experiencing shaky ground.

U.S. solar business grew 12 times faster than overall job creation. Solar jobs are bolstered by state initiatives to spur clean energy development, leading to employers adding workers at record rates to install rooftop panels. In contrast, oil and gas producers have slashed 351,410 jobs worldwide since prices began to slide in the middle of 2014.

Globally, the workforce in clean energy is expected to grow to 24 million by 2030, if targets on climate change and development are met.

What does this translate to locally in Tennessee and the Southeast?

Tennessee, rich in advanced energy resources, is poised to continue rapidly expanding upon the nearly 325,00 advanced energy jobs, supported by more than 17,000 firms within the state.

As TAEBC Charter members and research assets, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee, along with private sector innovators continue to research, develop and produce new ways to meet energy demands, Tennessee will undoubtedly lead the new energy economy.

The TAEBC Economic Impact Report showed that advanced energy requires skilled workers, serving as a primary source for high quality jobs. Manufacturers benefit from a robust advanced energy sector while advanced energy contributes significantly to state and local economies.

Tennessee is well-positioned to keep pace with the international trend, serving as a key contributor to a booming global advanced energy economy.

Source: Bloomberg CleanTechnica