Eric Pasi, chief development officer at Minnesota solar installation company IPS Solar, recently published CleanWave: A Guide to Success in the Green Recovery, a book about the past, present and future of cleantech with interviews, stories and advice for green career seekers. Solar Power World recently asked Pasi some questions about his book.
SPW: What inspired you to write Clean Wave?
Pasi: Like many others in solar and clean energy, people reach out pretty frequently who are curious about our industry, want more information, and are maybe unsure of where to begin. I’d started to compile a list of resources and the document took on a life of its own; it became apparent that there was a lack of accessible answers for them.
The book reviews cleantech’s past, present, and future, with a bunch of interviews and my own personal stories from the front lines. Additionally, it provides readers with actionable advice in the event they’re interested in careers.
This is also a way to pay forward the same opportunities afforded to me 13 years ago when I started in solar. It’s important that I give back to help the next generation of cleantech leaders.
SPW: How is the book’s message even more important as the country looks toward recovery from COVID-19?
Pasi: Clean energy is infrastructure, jobs and investment that cannot be outsourced. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimated that $10 trillion will be invested in the space over the next 15 years, a number that’s likely to be much higher. In a 2019 Yale Center for Climate poll, 95% of democrats and 71% of republicans support 100% clean energy initiatives, levels unheard of in these times of divisiveness. Solar and wind also help rural America by providing diversified income streams for farmers, and new tax revenue for local governments. Both sides of the political aisle can get behind clean energy.
SPW: What’s your best piece of advice for those looking to enter the solar industry?
Pasi: Be passionate and persistent. Being genuinely passionate about clean energy, the climate crisis and other issues connects with people in ways that inspire them to help you. Also, we’re all busy, so often times we need a nudge (or two) to respond. Don’t get discouraged!
SPW: How can the industry do better to bring more workers with diverse backgrounds into the field?
Pasi: The benefits of clean energy historically have been limited to more affluent and white communities. Our workforce has skewed whiter and more male-dominated. The success of solar and other renewable sources will rely on our ability to build broad coalitions including under-resourced communities, women and people of color. We need to invest in these stakeholders so that they, in turn, can feel welcome and invest their energy in us. Community solar, LMI programs, accessible workforce training and diversity standards set by industry are opportunities that can promote a culture of inclusivity, which is necessary to move all of us forward together.
SPW: How do you foresee the next four years of solar job growth under the Biden administration?
Pasi: With divided government, most of the progress will be done via executive action, or from state and private initiatives. The Paris Accord is important, but the tangible effects of a new administration will be felt in lower tariffs and more friendly policies at FERC.
States and private companies will also continue to lead, and in many ways, be more aggressive to meet goals where consensus at a national level is difficult. Clean energy is the cheapest option, and we will win because the market is more fair now than ever before.