I took the leap into solar in 2003 and quit the high-tech job I was at to commit my professional work to cleantech. Although I’ve worked on many fascinating and groundbreaking projects, one of my favorite projects from my career, and most definitely a highlight is the solar project for AVUHSD. We won this project in February 2010 as a startup enterprise and successfully built and commissioned the largest, at that time, solar PV project for a K-12 school in the U.S., 10 MW on 10 schools. This project demonstrated that clean tech could be both profitable at scale and deliver significant economic value to energy consumers.
What is your field of expertise?
For the last 12 years, I have been working in the renewable energy field in a variety of capacities, mainly focused on the development of the technologies, products, and projects that will accelerate the electrification and decarbonization of our energy infrastructure. Throughout my career I’ve focused on the use of quantitative analysis, modeling, and measurement to demonstrate the economic performance of the technology, products and projects being utilized by stakeholders. As the Chief Technology Officer at EcoSmart Solution, I oversee the operational performance of our platform of green technologies including geothermal exchange infrastructure, solar PV generation, EV charging, energy storage and the digital energy platform that visualizes, controls and optimizes the technology and infrastructure. Our Austin, Texas community Whisper Valley is a great example of the work I’m involved in as it pertains to analyzing and proving how the technology within this project is reducing energy consumption and lowering CO2 emissions while also saving consumers money.
Describe your journey to where you are today.
Prior to working in the clean tech industry, I was working as a high-tech Silicon Valley professional. During the summer of 2000, California was in the midst of the worst energy crisis since WWII and we had rolling blackouts affecting the entire state. In response to the energy crisis, The California Energy Commission started a program to incentivize homeowners to put solar on their roofs. I committed to the program and installed a small solar system on my home and the experience was transformative – gaining energy independence and a bit of self-sufficiency. I then decided to leave my high-tech career and set off to find a new path within the cleantech industry and tried my hand as a grass roots solar enthusiast and project developer. Eventually, this led to starting up a commercial solar developer, PFMG Solar, in Southern California where we were able to build the largest solar PV project on a K-12 school district, Antelope Valley Union High School District (AVUHSD), at that time.
What does your company do, for whom, and how does it fit into the bigger picture of solving global issues with clean tech?
EcoSmart Solution is a leader in green energy services, designing and delivering an innovative geothermal infrastructure combined with a comprehensive suite of distributed energy resources like solar PV Generation, EV Charging, and Energy Storage. Leveraging the inexhaustible resources of the Earth’s constant temperature and the sun’s solar irradiance, the EcoSmart Solution infrastructure can efficiently cool and heat consumer homes, while reducing the net energy consumption delivering significantly lower energy costs and achieving zero-energy capable living.
Whisper Valley, EcoSmart Solution’s flagship project, is an Austin-based community with over 400 constructed and occupied homes, with plans to construct 7,500 total units. In this community, EcoSmart Solution uses the large-scale geothermal infrastructure to draw on the clean, thermal energy of the Earth to provide temperature controlled geothermal water to each home’s high efficiency Ground Source Heat Pump. Our geothermal technology is also used in a multifamily garden-style development in Orlando, Florida where the technology taps into the Floridan Aquifer to exchange heat with the subsurface body of water. Our upcoming project, Millican Reserve in College Station, Texas, will tap into the community’s lake to optimize the geothermal exchange system. Through the incorporation of EcoSmart Solution’s platform, homeowners experience the benefits of reliable energy storage and lower utility cost.
We’re using the Earth’s renewable energy resources to our advantage, helping to work towards the country’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. While these handful of communities are helping progress the energy transition, the biggest challenge is raising awareness on the scalability of this technology so that it has a larger impact across the country and can eventually transform the energy landscape. EcoSmart Solution is the threading together of energy and real estate, and showcasing how this technology, and these zero-energy capable communities can be implemented at scale.
What do you think is the most important thing we can be doing in terms of clean tech solutions?
Now that we are rapidly accelerating the use of renewable energy technologies and developing these projects at scale, the industry needs to be cognizant of the unintended consequences that come with mass adoption. For example, consider the application of ground-mounted solar arrays which cover open space and might have a better alternative use in the years to come. This optimal land use needs to balance the potential energy generation for a ground-mounted solar array versus potential future alternative use of the open space.
All clean tech has an end of life that should be anticipated and engineered into the recycling or repurposing of the materials used in these technologies. Scale of deployment will inevitably lead to the decommissioning of solar panels, inverters, and energy storage batteries. The industry solved the problem of lead acid battery recycling achieving reuse of approximately 99% of the available scrap lead. We need to achieve similar success with the reuse and recycling of clean tech.
LinkedIn: Greg Wolfson