702: From Rock Star to Serial Entrepreneur: Rue Phillips' Journey
SunCast
by Nico Johnson
4d ago
He came to America with ten thousand dollars and a dream of making it big. A few years later, he was a legitimate rock star, rocking arenas with Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osborne.  So why did this British rocker who achieved the height of music stardom give it all up and start an EV charging business? How did that turn into not 1 but 3 successful exits (his most recent for north of $80M to Enphase) and a fourth energy sector startup sure to find similar outcomes? Rue Phillips, a rockstar turned entrepreneur, has a story unlike any other we’ve told here on SunCast. Rue has always had an inter ..read more
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701: Nextracker and JM Steel Are Reviving American Manufacturing
SunCast
by Nico Johnson
6d ago
US manufacturing is back!  We were recently invited to a ceremony to celebrate the expansion of Nextracker’s dedicated steel torque tube manufacturing lines at JM Steel’s Leetsdale facility in Pittsburgh. This historic site, formerly Bethlehem Steel(the company that produced the landing craft for Normandy during World War II) now manufactures low-carbon steel tubes for solar trackers. Among the many dignitaries present at the event were 3 people on Nico’s yet-to-be-interviewed bucket list, so he got the chance to get some genuine reaction commentary and excellent b-roll of the factory lin ..read more
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700! Behind the Success of Strata Clean Energy, Markus Wilhelm
SunCast
by Nico Johnson
1w ago
It only took me 8 years and 699 episodes to finally land today’s guest! But the wait was WELL worth it. You’re in for a treat. And it was recorded in-person at Strata’s HQ, so you might enjoy some of the extra footage included in the YT video version of this episode.  Markus Wilhelm founded Strata Clean Energy in 2009, but readily admits that he didn’t have the right initial vision for the company.  In fact, it wasn’t till the THIRD pivot that he says they really found their groove.  By any measure, Strata has now become an undeniable success-story in the world of Solar Energy D ..read more
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Bonus: A love story, about Solar. w/Tor “Solar Fred” Valenza
SunCast
by Nico Johnson
1w ago
265,000!  That’s how many of you/us work in Solar Energy so far (and rapidly growing!) Yet, with 4 million solar installations in the U.S alone, Solar Energy is rarely featured in mainstream media. WHY? Probably True Solar Stories, a podcast created by Tor Valenza, also known as Solar Fred, aims to bridge this content gap with engaging solar-themed fictional tales. Valenza, once a Hollywood writer for shows like "The Dead Zone," "Dharma and Greg," and "Stargate SG-1” brings a uniquely solar flair (get it? ?). This BONUS episode features Solar Fred sharing a whimsical story about a wedding ..read more
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699: Breaking the American Electricity Monopoly | CleanChoice’s Zoe Gamble
SunCast
by Nico Johnson
1w ago
Many of us working in clean energy forget that access to clean power is still a privilege, not a right. Millions of Americans still don’t have the freedom to choose clean energy.  People all over the country want to fight climate change by choosing renewable energy sources for their homes and businesses. But, in monopolized electricity markets, consumers are forced  to purchase power from the only available utility (like Duke Energy here in my home state of NC). CleanChoice Energy is fighting to address this limitation. As you’ll hear from Zoë Gamble Hanes, President of CleanChoice ..read more
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698: Building the Biggest Battery Project in the World — Anthony Carroll, former President of Powin
SunCast
by Nico Johnson
1w ago
Imagine that your phone rings. The person on the other end tells you: “you won the project. Now, we need you to fly to Australia and build the largest battery backup project in the entire world.”  Powin, a Portland, Oregon-based battery energy storage developer, was up to the challenge.  Nico got a chance to sit down with then-President of Powin, Anthony Carroll, to discuss where the energy storage market is headed and how large-scale integrators like Powin are moving the needle.  Under Anthony’s leadership, Powin secured the nearly 2 GWh Waratah Super Battery project in Sydney ..read more
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697: Chris Nelder is Mobilizing an Army for Clean Energy
SunCast
by Nico Johnson
1w ago
Chris Nelder challenges the status quo.  And his efforts have, for nearly a decade, centered on mobilizing an army of supporters to help us transition away from fossil fuels. As creator & host of the podcast The Energy Transition Show, Nelder aims to "influence the influencers" through carefully researched interviews with clean energy experts. I know that many many listeners of SunCast are also listeners of Chris’s show (and many have even told me you’re paid subscribers!) which has long-inspired me to watch and appreciate what Chris does. It took me YEARS to finally convince him to g ..read more
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695: ‘Digital Owner’s Manuals’ for installers with Illu co-founder Sierra Fan
SunCast
by Nico Johnson
1w ago
We’ve heard that we need to focus on workforce development.  Yet many times the workforce we’ve developed has to re-invent the wheel for lack of reliable systems to a) know what good looks like, and b) replicate it in the field with minimal oversight.   What if any solar installer had reliable, step-by-step installation guidance straight from any manufacturer? Would this improve the process?  Solar projects are custom-built each time, often with components from a range of OEMs. This means that installers have to spend costly hours figuring out how to connect different solar ..read more
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694: LG Proves There’s More Than One Home Battery That’s Easy, Effective & Elegant
SunCast
by Nico Johnson
1w ago
What if solar installers could easily integrate energy storage with any inverter on the market? LG Energy Storage Systems (ESS) makes that possible, and in an important and elegant way.  At the 2024 NABCEP Conference, Jim Brown, Senior National Sales Manager at LG ESS, highlighted  LG's new "Home 8" AC-coupled energy storage system, a game-changing product for solar installers. In today’s episode, Jim and Nico discuss AC vs. DC-coupled systems, homeowner misconceptions, and a new technology that will help homeowners maximize the their solar plus storage investment. . Expect to learn ..read more
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693: Off-Grid Solar Products As A Form Of Wealth Delivery And Value Creation, with Amped Innovation’s Andi Kleissner & Kurt Kuhlmann
SunCast
by Nico Johnson
1w ago
We often take access to electricity, refrigeration, and running water for granted. In many parts of the world, these are luxuries.  In today’s episode, Andi Kleissner and Kurt Kuhlmann, Co-founders and Co-CEOs of Amped Innovation, discuss how they’re changing lives by installing high-performance off-grid solar systems and appliances across Asia and Africa. Nico visited with the pair in their CA headquarters; Seated on two of their high-efficiency solar freezers, they share insights from making solar products that empower impoverished families in the “developing world” to earn stable incom ..read more
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