Solar Maverick Podcast
SMP 11:   The marriage of roofing and solar: Innovative and economic solutions with Daryl Pilon and Bob Burwasser

SMP 11: The marriage of roofing and solar: Innovative and economic solutions with Daryl Pilon and Bob Burwasser

January 15, 2019

About our Guests:

 

Daryl Pilon is the director of business development for Standard Solar, a vertically integrated commercial and industrial EPC company, providing superior solar energy solutions since 2004. Their goal is to invest their capital in new projects and drive the solar industry forward. Daryl comes from a background in engineering and worked on roofing systems before joining Standard Solar three years ago.

 

Bob Burwasser is the Northeast regional manager for Carlisle Construction Materials, a diversified manufacturer and supplier for building products and related materials for commercial construction markets. They prioritize energy efficiency and sustainability, working to lower a building’s carbon footprint and lower its energy consumption and associated costs.

 

Episode summary:

On the heels of a historic partnership between the solar company, Standard Solar, and the roofing and construction company, Carlisle Construction Materials, a representative from each company sat down with Benoy to talk about how their innovate solutions are changing the viability and longevity of rooftop solar arrays. Bob and Daryl each talk about their side of these innovations and their hopes for the partnership moving forward.

 

Insights from this episode:

  • How Carlisle goes about evaluating a roof
  • How Standard Solar and Carlisle Construction Materials have solved solar’s past roofing problems
  • How they’re able to offer solar projects and solid roofs at a lower cost
  • Strategies for getting your rooftop solar array off the ground

 

Quotes from the show:

  • “For the first time since man has walked upright, we now have a roofing membrane that can parallel the longevity of solar.” - Daryl Pilon, Episode #11
  • “When we’re done, that building has increased in value.” - Daryl Pilon, Episode #11
  • “For owners that were interested in solar and just couldn’t pursue it because of the roof cost, we’re going back to them now and it’s becoming a very viable opportunity.” - Bob Burwasser, Episode #11
  • On the partnership: “There’s a great match of people and there’s a great match of capability and competency.” - Daryl Pilon, Episode #11
  • More on the partnership: “We can take opportunities that exist out there and be able to very quickly bring them to a conclusion.” - Daryl Pilon, Episode #11
  • “We have two great companies that are very like minded in our goals and are very customer focused and I think with those elements, success is just around the corner.” - Daryl Pilon, Episode #11
  • On their roofing solutions: “I think it’s viable everywhere. I really do believe that.” - Daryl Pilon, Episode #11
  • “We’re all about mutually beneficial relationships.” - Daryl Pilon, Episode #11
  • “I think it’s nice that now we can lead the way. We can spearhead this thing and obviously we’re sharing it with the world, so we hope the world can be apart of it, but we’re going to lead the parade and I think it’s going be a great existence.” - Daryl Pilon, Episode #11

 

Stay connected:

 

Benoy Thanjan

LinkedIn.com/bthanjan

Facebook: Reneu Energy

www.reneuenergy.com

info@renewenergy.com

 

Daryl Pilon:

daryl.pilon@standardsolar.com

 

Bob Burwasser:

bburwasser@carlislerfc.com

SMP 12:  Secrets of the Latin America Solar Market with Rik Teeuwen

SMP 12: Secrets of the Latin America Solar Market with Rik Teeuwen

January 22, 2019

About our Guest:

 

Rik Teeuwen is the Project Manager of Emerging Markets and Finance for Solarplaza, “Solarplaza organizes international high-level conferences and exploratory trade missions in both established and emerging markets across the globe. With a track-record spanning five continents, over thirty countries, fifty cities and a total of over one hundred events, Solarplaza is a pioneering industry inspirer.” a company focused on “accelerating the transition to solar energy across the world.” Rik is responsible for organizing and developing conferences in Latin America. He has made a career passionately working toward renewable energy growth.

Episode Summary

 

While hosting the El Futuro Solar Colombia, the first large scale conference in Colombia on solar resources, Rik sits down with Benoy to discuss the development of solar PV (the technology that converts sunlight into electricity)  and renewable energy in up and coming markets. They discuss how these conferences aid in the renewable resource movement, help overcome obstacles and what Rik sees as notable trends in this industry.

Insight from this episode:

 

  • How environmental factors have directed Colombia towards a more renewable energy focus.
  • How Solar PV is gaining steam compared to other renewable resource alternatives.
  • Strategies on making renewable energy a more appealing market for developers in individual countries.
  • How emerging countries are responding to growth in the renewable resources market.
  • Ways that countries and developers are able to push through existing obstacles and barriers to renewable resources.
  • How current trends are affecting the renewable resource market.

Quotes from the show:

 

  • In regards to El Futuro Solar Colombia: “Everyone was being very transparent about the market. Usually when you go to conferences it’s very fluffy but people were really being very transparent.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode 12
  • “It’s the appetite that you try to awake with the real picture. You cannot fake it.” Rik Teeuwen, Episode 12
  • “They’re (Utility Companies) so focused on the way they’ve made money for years that its hard for them to grasp what’s coming next, and at the end of the day no matter how hard they make it to develop renewable energy products; specifically solar you aren’t going to stop it in the long run.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode 12
  • “Everyone is becoming more savvy or more capable of controlling their energy demand and use and that’s good. That’s brilliant.” Rik Teeuwen, Episode 12
  • “It’s an exciting time to be in the energy space, specifically solar. Also in the emerging markets because there’s a lot of economic opportunities that’s created based on having renewable resources and you know, most companies and business expenses is energy, and they’re able to lower their cost and use renewables at the same time.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode 12
  • “Solar is so scalable compared to other technologies” Benoy Thanjan, Episode 12
  • “The energy market is a very complicated; not for the well being of a whole community kind of energy source while Solar PV can be a very nice community driven or individual driven.” Rik Teeuwen, Episode 12
  • “Countries are saying we want to be energy independent, we want to be green and we want to be cheap”. Rik Teeuwen, Episode 12
  • “I think what’s amazing is that most of the people in this sector are trailblazing. The complexity, they’re are basically building and passionate about renewable energy.... It’s only the beginning of a very long growth cycle.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode 12
  • “Market after market succumbs to the Solar PV revolution.” Rik Teeuwen, Episode 12

 

Resources Mentioned:

 

 

Stay Connected:

Benoy Thanjan

LinkedIn.com/bthanjan

www.reneuenergy.com

info@renewenergy.com

Facebook: Reneu Energy

 

Rik Teeuwen

www.solarplaza.com

www.twitter.com/rikteeuwen

LinkedIn: Rik Teeuwen

rik@solarplaza.com

SMP 13:  How to develop a great solar project and many other interesting topics about solar and entrepreneurship with Jim Spano from Spano Partners

SMP 13: How to develop a great solar project and many other interesting topics about solar and entrepreneurship with Jim Spano from Spano Partners

January 29, 2019

About our Guest:

 

Benoy Thanjan

 

Benoy Thanjan is the Founder and CEO of Reneu Energy and he is also an advisor for several solar startup companies. Reneu Energy is a premier international solar energy consulting firm and developer and the company focuses on developing commercial and industrial solar and utility scale solar plus storage projects. The company also sources financing for solar projects and hedges energy and environmental commodities. Reneu Energy has brokered $27 million in environmental commodities transactions.

 

Benoy received his first experience in Finance as an intern at D.E. Shaw & Co., which is a global investment firm with 37 billion dollars in investment capital. Before founding Reneu Energy, he was the SREC Trader in the Project Finance Group for SolarCity which merged with Tesla in 2016. He originated SREC trades with buyers and co-developed their SREC monetization and hedging strategy with the senior management of SolarCity to move into the east coast markets. Benoy also worked at Vanguard Energy Partners, Ridgewood Renewable Power, and Deloitte & Touche.

 

Jim Spano

 

Founder and Managing Director of Spano Partners, Jim Spano retired from his own financial planning firm and has since spent over 30 years in the Real Estate and Solar space. Using his lengthy experience, he was able to recover from the negative effects of the real estate market crash by paving the way for solar developments. From Vice-President of the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association, a participant of the International Battery and Energy Storage Alliance, and the creator of Spano Partners and Radiant REIT, Jim is an accomplished entrepreneur and industry influencer.

Episode Summary

 

Benoy and Jim discuss how utility scale and community solar are leading changes in the solar industry, in addition to the unprecedented shift in the cost of solar finance, as hard costs in building solar have little room to decrease.  From policy involvement to networking, Jim shares invaluable insights into the solar industry, a successful career as an entrepreneur, and the incredible benefits and importance of philanthropic work.

 

Insight from this episode:

  • How to use your previous experience to hone your entrepreneurial skills.
  • Strategies for developing a successful solar development company.
  • How networking can differentiate you in your industry.
  • Strategies to not only promote your industry but also add more value to it.
  • Ways to make solar energy more affordable for those with lower incomes.
  • Why community solar power is becoming the latest trend in the solar industry.
  • Why understanding policy can create value in your business.
  • Ways to decrease hard and soft solar energy costs.
  • Why philanthropy is one area of business you don’t want to forget.

 

Quotes from the show:

 

  • In regards to the lack of access to solar options due to cost: “That was a huge need in the market that’s not there, obviously, lowering the cost of financing. We find it (financing) is one of the highest expenses.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #13.

 

    • “We are now where we know that the hard costs cannot continue to be reduced so now we are looking at ways to reduce soft costs, and that’s the direction that the industry should be going.” Jim Spano, Episode #13.
    • “The key to successful solar development is understanding how the impact that the manner in which the project is developed, is viewed from a lender’s perspective.” Jim Spano, Episode #13.
    • “Having as much at the highest incentive levels that you can, when you develop a project, means that you’ve added more value into that project. That means the investor and yourself will do better and have a far more likelihood of achieving the financial goals that the investment was based upon.”Jim Spano, Episode #13.

 

  • I think a lot of people look at things from (only) one perspective, but there are many people that are affected by this decision and there are a lot of variables that are changing within solar energy, that will impact costs to develop and build these projects.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #13.
  • “That’s why there’s so much debate within the industry. You have different stakeholders with conflicting interests.”Jim Spano, Episode #13.

 

  • “One of the fastest growing sectors of solar is community solar.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #13.
  • “We have to open these markets for lower income people.” Jim Spano, Episode #13.
  • “I think the most successful wealthy business people come to a point in their life that they realize that true happiness doesn’t come from self-gratification and having the biggest or fastest car, or the biggest home and all this nonsense. It really comes from putting a smile on someone’s face.” Jim Spano, Episode #13.
  • “I think the true key to happiness in this life...what really satisfies us...is knowing that we made someone else’s life better, easier.” Jim Spano, Episode #13.
  • “The most successful people actually fail the most, learn from that experience and then adapt.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #13.
  • “Some of your best experiences and education comes from your failures; although I’d suggest you try to learn from other people’s failures first if you can!” Jim Spano, Episode #13.

 

Stay Connected:

Benoy Thanjan

LinkedIn.com/bthanjan

Facebook: Reneu Energy

www.reneuenergy.com

info@reneuenergy.com

 

Jim Spano

www.radiantreit.com

www.spanopartners.com

www.spanosolarenterprises.com

Linkedin

jimspano@spanopartners.com

 

SMP 14: How Institutional Investment Capital is Transforming the Renewable Energy Market with Thom Byrne

SMP 14: How Institutional Investment Capital is Transforming the Renewable Energy Market with Thom Byrne

February 5, 2019

About our Guest:

 

Benoy Thanjan

 

Benoy Thanjan is the Founder and CEO of Reneu Energy and he is also an advisor for several solar startup companies. Reneu Energy is a premier international solar energy consulting firm and developer and the company focuses on developing commercial and industrial solar and utility scale solar plus storage projects. The company also sources financing for solar projects and hedges energy and environmental commodities. Reneu Energy has brokered $27 million in environmental commodities transactions.

 

Benoy received his first experience in Finance as an intern at D.E. Shaw & Co., which is a global investment firm with 37 billion dollars in investment capital. Before founding Reneu Energy, he was the SREC Trader in the Project Finance Group for SolarCity which merged with Tesla in 2016. He originated SREC trades with buyers and co-developed their SREC monetization and hedging strategy with the senior management of SolarCity to move into the east coast markets. Benoy also worked at Vanguard Energy Partners, Ridgewood Renewable Power, and Deloitte & Touche.

 

Thom Byrne

 

Thom Byrne is the Founder and CEO of Clean Capital; a financial technology company that makes it easy to invest in clean energy. Clean Capital has built a proprietary technology platform that identifies, screens, and manages clean energy projects enabling project owners an opportunity to exit their portfolios while providing accredited investors, including institutional investors, family offices, and investment funds, unique access to the clean energy investment market.

 

Thom received his start in environmental projects with Waterkeeper Alliance, where he helped launch local environmental organizations. After graduating from Berkeley Law school, he received extensive experience in the renewable energy finance arena through the law firms, Chadbourne and Parke, and then Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld. Using his experience, Thom dove deeper into renewable energy asset with True Green Capital, before founding Clean Capital.

Episode Summary

 

Thom Byrne shares how as an entrepreneur, he addressed calculated risks to create Clean Capital, a company now providing investment opportunities in the tens of millions of dollars for solar energy. As opposed to smaller investments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, what was once just a vision, is now injecting tremendous amounts of capital into the solar energy market not just domestically, but internationally as well.  

 

Insight from this episode:

  • How increasing larger institutional capital is vital for growing the renewable energy space.
  • How technology plays a key role in efficient investments.
  • What to look for in a potential market for investment.
  • Strategies for finding solutions to getting capital into new markets.
  • What macro drivers are affecting the Solar market today.
  • How to determine if being an entrepreneur is right for you and if your idea should go to market.

 

Quotes from the show:

    • “We always wanted to be mission oriented.” Thom Byrne, Episode 14

 

  • In regards to the renewable energy market: “Yes you can make money doing it, but it’s an important challenge to be trying to solve.” Thom Byrne, Episode 14
  • In regards to being an entrepreneur: “Life’s too short and the risk you perceive is not as big a risk as it really is. It’s more fearful when you look out at the risk than when you’re actually living in it.” Thom Byrne, Episode 14
  • In regards to being an entrepreneur: “There is a risk tolerance that you have to find acceptable. I think most people don’t find it acceptable and they don’t get into entrepreneurship but I would encourage people to evaluate the risk in the grand scheme of things and if you do that, you may find that it’s much more tolerable.” Thom Byrne, Episode 14
  • In regards to being an entrepreneur: “It’s better to try than to have regret.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode 14
  • “If you have the appetite to do it, to be an entrepreneur, you have to do it. That bug is not going to go away and you don’t want to wake up with grandchildren and just a story about something you were going to do, rather than having actually tried to do it.” Thom Byrne, Episode 14
  • “Everyone is talking about storage and how in the market, tariffs and costs continue to go down.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode 14
  • A statistic the World Economic Forum put out, is that .5% of any institutional capital being put out is for clean energy.” Thom Byrne, Episode 14

 

 

Resources Mentioned:

 

Stay Connected:

Benoy Thanjan

LinkedIn.com/bthanjan

Facebook: Reneu Energy

www.reneuenergy.com

info@reneuenergy.com

 

Thom Byrne

www.cleancapital.com

Experts Only Podcast

Linkedin: CleanCapital

Facebook: @CleanCapitalCo

Twitter: @CleanCapital_

tbyrne@cleancapital.com

 

SMP 15:  Colombia Solar Market Discussion with Benoy and Li

SMP 15: Colombia Solar Market Discussion with Benoy and Li

February 12, 2019

About our Guest:

 

Benoy Thanjan

 

Benoy Thanjan is the Founder and CEO of Reneu Energy and he is also an advisor for several solar startup companies. Reneu Energy is a premier international solar energy consulting firm and developer and the company focuses on developing commercial and industrial solar and utility scale solar plus storage projects. The company also sources financing for solar projects and hedges energy and environmental commodities. Reneu Energy has brokered $27 million in environmental commodities transactions.

 

Benoy received his first experience in Finance as an intern at D.E. Shaw & Co., which is a global investment firm with 37 billion dollars in investment capital. Before founding Reneu Energy, he was the SREC Trader in the Project Finance Group for SolarCity which merged with Tesla in 2016. He originated SREC trades with buyers and co-developed their SREC monetization and hedging strategy with the senior management of SolarCity to move into the east coast markets. Benoy also worked at Vanguard Energy Partners, Ridgewood Renewable Power, and Deloitte & Touche.

 

Li Wang

 

A life-long journalist and communications professional, Li Wang was hooked on the news as an intern at the Philadelphia Daily News during the summer of the O.J. trial. He has been a business reporter, arts editor and film critic. He has shifted his focus to digital marketing and creative services. His company, MJ Wang Media, develops brand messaging and identity through website design and content marketing.

Episode Summary

 

Li and Benoy discuss Benoy’s recent trip to Colombia and attendance of the El Futuro Solar de Colombia conference. While reviewing the current changes of renewable energy in Colombia and what is driving those, they also review how cultural differences can impact international business. From an entrepreneurial perspective, they provide strategies on maximizing the time spent at industry conferences, how to gain recognition and become known as an expert in your industry.

 

Insight from this episode:

  • How foreign languages can benefit an entrepreneur.
  • How investment returns are driving American capital to international markets.
  • How cultural expectations can vary when working in international markets.
  • Strategies for maximizing your time at industry conferences.
  • Ways to become known as an expert in your field.
  • Strategies to improve your network.
  • How to improve your personal brand and recognition through consistent social media posts and website updates.

Quotes from the show:

 

  • In regards to the renewable energy market in Colombia: “It sounds like there is a lot of opportunity with some hard work to put in there, to gain some traction there.” Li Wang, Episode #15.
  • “Colombia is going to be a great market.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #15.

 

  • It’s never easy and especially in a new market that nothing has been done yet, so it’s really about coming up with creative solutions.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #15.
  • “Having a working knowledge of the language makes a huge difference because you are able to communicate with people directly instead of through a translator.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #15.
  • In regards to industry conferences: “Obviously the content is very important...but it’s really about getting in front of people, building that relationship which takes time. It’s not just about picking up business cards and emailing.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #15.
  • “The point being, the internet is wide open and you should claim your little piece of real estate on the internet if you haven’t already.” Li Wang, Episode #15.
  • “If you can stand out a little bit in your personal brand, it’s going to pay off usually, because you’ll get noticed.”Li Wang, Episode #15.

 

Resources Mentioned:

 

Stay Connected:

Benoy Thanjan

LinkedIn.com/bthanjan

Facebook: Reneu Energy

www.reneuenergy.com

info@reneuenergy.com

 

Li Wang:

MJWangMedia.com

Instagram: @liwang22

SMP 16: Solar Power Growth and Entrepreneurship Goal Setting in 2019

SMP 16: Solar Power Growth and Entrepreneurship Goal Setting in 2019

February 19, 2019

About our Guest:

 

Benoy Thanjan

 

Benoy Thanjan is the Founder and CEO of Reneu Energy and he is also an advisor for several solar startup companies. Reneu Energy is a premier international solar energy consulting firm and developer and the company focuses on developing commercial and industrial solar and utility scale solar plus storage projects. The company also sources financing for solar projects and hedges energy and environmental commodities. Reneu Energy has brokered $27 million in environmental commodities transactions.

 

Benoy received his first experience in Finance as an intern at D.E. Shaw & Co., which is a global investment firm with 37 billion dollars in investment capital. Before founding Reneu Energy, he was the SREC Trader in the Project Finance Group for SolarCity which merged with Tesla in 2016. He originated SREC trades with buyers and co-developed their SREC monetization and hedging strategy with the senior management of SolarCity to move into the east coast markets. Benoy also worked at Vanguard Energy Partners, Ridgewood Renewable Power, and Deloitte & Touche.

 

Li Wang

 

A life-long journalist and communications professional, Li Wang was hooked on the news as an intern at the Philadelphia Daily News during the summer of the O.J. trial. He has been a business reporter, arts editor and film critic. He has shifted his focus to digital marketing and creative services. His company, MJ Wang Media, develops brand messaging and identity through website design and content marketing.

Episode Summary

 

In light of the New Year, Li and Benoy discuss the effects of proper goal setting in your personal life as well as in your business. In the solar market, aggressive goal setting is creating foundations for high levels of growth, specifically in community solar and solar plus storage incentives. From his own travels to Southeast Asia and South America, Benoy shares key tips for cultivating relationships, maximizing value and realizing opportunities locally and abroad.

 

Insight from this episode:

  • How to cultivate new business relationships
  • Strategies for balancing your time as a small business owner
  • How to connect to potential clients and build meaningful relationships
  • How to bring value to your clients
  • Strategies for growing international markets
  • Strategies for effective goal setting
  • Methods for increasing community solar

Quotes from the show:

    • “Business in the US and Asia are totally different; even south america. People want to really get to know you before there is any discussion about business, whereas in the U.S. it’s very upfront with what they can offer and what value they can offer you.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #16.
    • “People are people at the end of the day, and they prefer to work with people they like and trust.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #16.
    • “Community solar is one of the fastest growing segments in solar in the US.“ Benoy Thanjan, Episode #16.

 

  • “The great thing about community solar is it allows people who can’t get solar, due to, let’s say their house has shading issues, the roof is not good,they don’t have the capital expenditures, if they live in an apartment or have low to moderate income, they are able to now purchase solar....It gives everyone the ability to have solar” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #16.

 

    • “California has always been ahead of the curve and trying to incentivize it (solar).” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #16.

 

  • In regards to California solar goals; Part of being aggressive is that even if they don’t reach complete fulfillment of their goals, they’ll have gained a lot just by setting those targets.” Li Wang, Episode #16.

 

    • “It’s all about setting high goals. We talk about this in our own life and in entrepreneurship; everyone sets too low goals and we should all come up with higher goals. I know I’m trying to push myself to do bigger and better things. it might sound unrealistic but you never know you might achieve it but at least you’ll be at a much higher place than if you didn’t have those goals in place.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #16.

 

  • I feel like with a little bit of help, and without much effort tor outsourcing, business owners can really improve their market.” Li Wang, Episode #16.
  • “2019 is going to be a great year for solar.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #16.
  • “‘I’d rather see you do one or a few things very well, than spread yourself too thin, because that’s very difficult for a small business.” Li Wang, Episode #16.
  • “If you’re not truly listening and asking good questions, how can you really add the value they (your customer) need?” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #16.
  • “The power of saying no to things - that sometimes is hard to do when starting up your business but learning to say no to the wrong opportunities will gain you more time and gain you more business over time.” Li Wang, Episode #16.

 

 

Stay Connected:

Benoy Thanjan

LinkedIn.com/bthanjan

Facebook: Reneu Energy

www.reneuenergy.com

info@reneuenergy.com

 

Li Wang:

MJWangMedia.com

Instagram: @liwang22

li@reneuenergy.com

 

SMP 17:  Solar Engineering and Advice for Entrepreneurs looking to grow successfully in the solar industry

SMP 17: Solar Engineering and Advice for Entrepreneurs looking to grow successfully in the solar industry

February 26, 2019

About our Guest:

 

Benoy Thanjan

 

Benoy Thanjan is the Founder and CEO of Reneu Energy and he is also an advisor for several solar startup companies. Reneu Energy is a premier international solar energy consulting firm and developer and the company focuses on developing commercial and industrial solar and utility-scale solar plus storage projects. The company also sources financing for solar projects and hedges energy and environmental commodities. Reneu Energy has brokered $27 million in environmental commodities transactions.

 

Benoy received his first experience in Finance as an intern at D.E. Shaw & Co., which is a global investment firm with 37 billion dollars in investment capital. Before founding Reneu Energy, he was the SREC Trader in the Project Finance Group for SolarCity which merged with Tesla in 2016. He originated SREC trades with buyers and co-developed their SREC monetization and hedging strategy with the senior management of SolarCity to move into the east coast markets. Benoy also worked at Vanguard Energy Partners, Ridgewood Renewable Power, and Deloitte & Touche.

 

Steve Schwerd

With over 25 years in Consulting Engineering, Mr. Schwerd has proven accomplishments in engineering design; project, client, staff and financial management; business development; engineering operations; and firm leadership. Experience ranges from creating small MEP (Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing) departments to a Principal/Shareholder role as the engineering leader for a large multi-office, international full-service Architectural & Engineering firm. Upon establishing Schwerd Consulting, Steve now follows his passion for renewable energy and is fully committed to and active in the Solar industry.  He has worked with many of the leading solar companies and vendors across the country and is the driving force on his firm’s projects and industry endeavors.

Episode Summary

 

Benoy and Steve discuss how to not only utilize the value of your experience but to also expand and grow on that to become an industry expert and successful entrepreneur. Through personal business experiences and involvement in renewable energy, Steve shares what helped him stay on the leading edge of solar, differentiate himself among his peers and develop a reputation as that of a valuable resource.

 

Insight from this episode:

  • How to become fully engaged in your industry and become an expert
  • The importance of being well-rounded in your industry
  • Why being truly passionate about your idea is key for the entrepreneur
  • How to plan properly for business ownership
  • The proper level of importance to assign your infrastructure
  • Strategies for gaining referrals
  • Why and when to say no to an opportunity
  • How to gauge if a solar project is good or not
  • How to stay on the cutting edge of your industry

Quotes from the show:

  • “Solar is good. It’s still a growing industry even with the “solar-coasters” that have happened over the years” Steve Schwerd, Episode #17.
  • “Experience is key.” Steve Schwerd, Episode #17.
  • “There might be a lot of companies that DO solar, but we KNOW solar.” Steve Schwerd, Episode #17.
  • In regards to how Steve approaches business: “You look at the whole picture which makes it unique.”  Benoy Thanjan, Episode #17.
  • “The timing was right and timing is often everything.” Steve Schwerd, Episode #17.
  • “As a business leader, you have to trust in yourself but also surround yourself with good people and relationships and build on those relationships.” Steve Schwerd, Episode #17.
  • “You really need to learn to say no and through your experience and confidence, trust that you can spot a bad project or a client that’s not a fit for you; because the worst thing you can do is pursue something that seems like it has a great gross revenue potential and it’s such a drag that you have a negative net income from it.” Steve Schwerd, Episode #17.
  • “Being transparent in general; people appreciate it.”  Benoy Thanjan, Episode #17.
  • “‘Check your ego at the door”. It’s not about creating a complex engineering design if you don’t have to; it’s the benefit to the end-user, the owner of the system.” Steve Schwerd, Episode #17.
  • “Go where the trends are. Stay cutting edge but avoid the bleeding age.” Steve Schwerd, Episode #17.
  • “Understand that effective systems are more important than efficient systems.” Steve Schwerd, Episode #17.
  • “There’s a big market now for in-service assets, so this will definitely be something that will be big in the future.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #17.
  • In regards to project implementation: “It takes time from a technical perspective. Just because a program is approved based on policy, still there is a lot of work that needs to be done on the backend to make it happen.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #17.

 

Stay Connected:

Benoy Thanjan

LinkedIn.com/bthanjan

www.reneuenergy.com

info@reneuenergy.com

Facebook: Reneu Energy

 

Steve Schwerd:

Linkedin.com/in/steveschwerd

www.schwerdconsulting.com

sschwerd@schwerdconsulting.com

 

SMP 18:  Financing Platform for Renewable Energy Projects

SMP 18: Financing Platform for Renewable Energy Projects

March 5, 2019

About our Guest:

 

Benoy Thanjan

 

Benoy Thanjan is the Founder and CEO of Reneu Energy and he is also an advisor for several solar startup companies. Reneu Energy is a premier international solar energy consulting firm and developer and the company focuses on developing commercial and industrial solar and utility scale solar plus storage projects. The company also sources financing for solar projects and hedges energy and environmental commodities. Reneu Energy has brokered $27 million in environmental commodities transactions.

 

Benoy received his first experience in Finance as an intern at D.E. Shaw & Co., which is a global investment firm with 37 billion dollars in investment capital. Before founding Reneu Energy, he was the SREC Trader in the Project Finance Group for SolarCity which merged with Tesla in 2016. He originated SREC trades with buyers and co-developed their SREC monetization and hedging strategy with the senior management of SolarCity to move into the east coast markets. Benoy also worked at Vanguard Energy Partners, Ridgewood Renewable Power, and Deloitte & Touche.

 

Graham Smith

 

As the Founder and CEO of Open Energy Group, Graham Smith was able to combine his experience and passion for renewable energy and finance. Open Energy Group is the lending tree of renewable energy assets, providing easier access to capital markets. With over 5.5 years in business, they have become the marketplace and financial solution provider for the U.S. commercial energy sector, underwriting nearly $1 billion dollars.

 

Episode Summary

 

Graham shares with Benoy the lessons he learned as an Olympic athlete and how those lessons prepared himself for the hard work, persistence and patience to becoming a successful entrepreneur. This hard work, combined with his passion for renewable energy and experience in the financial world helped him successfully recognize and fill a need in the industry. Benoy and Graham discuss how other entrepreneurs can learn from that experience as well as how those interested in the solar market can benefit from not only the services Graham offers but how he is shaping the industry as a whole.

Insight from this episode:

  • How to access different financial solutions for the solar market
  • Reasons it’s easier to fund builds greater than $1 million
  • Strategies for finding consumer and commercial choices for solar builds and financing
  • How current financial trends are affecting the solar industry
  • Strategies for surviving the first year in business
  • Why growing a business is not always a linear path
  • How passion can affect your success as an entrepreneur

Quotes from the show:

 

  • ”The sector is still in it’s infancy; there is no entrenched method (in regards to accessing solar and financial provisions). If you want a new roof you might just go to your bank and they will understand that, with solar there is still a lack of awareness" Graham Smith, Episode #18.
  • In regards to financial transactions under $1million, “It can get expensive with the legal costs and outside legal counsel looking at the agreement.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #18.

 

    • “There is no and shouldn’t be one solution to allow solar and renewable energy to flourish at this lower complex level; there needs to be a proliferation - a choice - there needs to be consumer/commercial choices about the products  and that’s what we aim to provide.” Graham Smith, Episode #18.

 

  • “I think a necessary trend that is needing to happen is simplifying the process.” Graham Smith, Episode #18.

 

  • “There is an appetite to look at the recycling of waste; producing both energy and products that can be reused into the cycle.” Graham Smith, Episode #18.
  • “In terms of our story, I think it’s important for people to know, especially the entrepreneurs, that it hasn’t been a straight path for Open Energy.” Graham Smith, Episode #18.
  • In regards to Open Energy Group: “You have made this so that it makes it easy and speeds up the whole process of investors analyzing different opportunities to finance projects.“ Benoy Thanjan, Episode #18.
  • “We find ourselves almost like a translator, taking developer-speak and taking it to the bank so they can recognize it.” Graham Smith, Episode #18.
  • “We facilitate access to capital; to build, to own, or to sell these assets. What that allows is the best price capital to come in and ultimately that means more capital to come in (to the renewable energy market).” Graham Smith, Episode #18.
  • “When you have the opportunity to make money from your passion - it is a great thing.” Graham Smith, Episode #18.
  • ”There are a lot of European developers and investors aggressively developing in the United States because there is a lot of opportunity.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #18.
  • In regards to becoming an entrepreneur: “You need a particular commitment, drive and self-belief. Because ultimately if you’re starting something, its possibly because it hasn’t been done before or done that way and your slants or ideas are different from others; so it requires that belief and persistence knowing that you can see forward enough past initial failure or initial non-acceptance that there will be.  The ways to sustain that are your enthusiasm and passion.“ Graham Smith, Episode #18.
  • “Frankly I don’t know any other way to success; it is only the product of extremely hard, committed work.” Graham Smith, Episode #18.

Stay Connected:

Benoy Thanjan

LinkedIn.com/bthanjan

www.reneuenergy.com

Facebook: Reneu Energy

info@reneuenergy.com

 

Graham Smith

www.openenergygroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/grahamsmith11

info@openenergygroup.com

 

SMP 19:  Customer Acquisition and Billing in Community Solar

SMP 19: Customer Acquisition and Billing in Community Solar

March 12, 2019

About our Guest:

 

Benoy Thanjan

 

Benoy Thanjan is the Founder and CEO of Reneu Energy and he is also an advisor for several solar startup companies. Reneu Energy is a premier international solar energy consulting firm and developer and the company focuses on developing commercial and industrial solar and utility-scale solar plus storage projects. The company also sources financing for solar projects and hedges energy and environmental commodities. Reneu Energy has brokered $27 million in environmental commodities transactions.

 

Benoy received his first experience in Finance as an intern at D.E. Shaw & Co., which is a global investment firm with 37 billion dollars in investment capital. Before founding Reneu Energy, he was the SREC Trader in the Project Finance Group for SolarCity which merged with Tesla in 2016. He originated SREC trades with buyers and co-developed their SREC monetization and hedging strategy with the senior management of SolarCity to move into the east coast markets. Benoy also worked at Vanguard Energy Partners, Ridgewood Renewable Power, and Deloitte & Touche.

 

Eric Dahnke

 

Eric Dahnke is the Founder and CEO of Power Market; utilizing his experience in the utility and software industries to provide solutions for community solar. With an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Energy Management and Policy from Columbia University, he is always working towards improving the delivery of clean energy programs.

 

Episode Summary

 

Eric dissects and explains not only the need and benefits of customer acquisition, onboarding and management for community solar, but also how the process of customer billing is conducted. This crucial aspect of bringing financial structure to community solar is not only expanding the market but also taught him many key lessons in entrepreneurship that he shares with Benoy.

 

Insight from this episode:

  • Ways to use technology to decrease the cost of customer acquisition
  • The importance of focus as an entrepreneur
  • How commissions can affect the locals of community solar growth
  • The importance of the name and branding for a startup company
  • Strategies for financing and funding a new company
  • How to prepare for entrepreneurship

 

Quotes from the show:

  • In regards to financing terms for community solar: “We see a wide range but 3-5 years is the standard contract length, with fairly minimal exit fees.” Eric Dahnke, Episode #19.
  • “Billing in these markets has always been the strength of what we’re doing. We consider ourselves a software company.” Eric Dahnke, Episode #19.
  • “I am happy to say that we have billed in excess of one million dollars in community solar transactions and we’ve never had a mistake.” Eric Dahnke, Episode #19.
  • In regards to realizing the need for Power Market: “This industry (the utility industry) needs the software architectures and techniques that we had in the financial services industry where the risk system is talking to the accounting system which is talking to the P&L system, to the settlement system and all of that works together and works well. ....I realized there ought to be an opportunity to build out some systems for this clean energy industry.” Eric Dahnke, Episode #19.
  • “...One of the other crucial things that I learned and had to be taught -which is part of the process of being an entrepreneur - is that you have to offer something very specific when you’re starting a company.” Eric Dahnke, Episode #19.
  • “It’s really focusing on one thing and being the expert on it, as opposed to doing multiple things." Benoy Thanjan, Episode #19.
  • In regards to community solar trends: “Governments are starting to require a low-income component to it.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #19.
  • “(a customer acquisition agent) can sell 5 individual apartment owners or go up into a much wealthier neighborhood and get one individual sale. The credit requirements and things that community solar was supposed to solve in terms of allowing low-income subscribers and participants to take advantage of that product have been thwarted a little bit by the fact that it’s more lucrative for the customer acquisition agents to go after bigger, wealthier customers.” Eric Dahnke, Episode #19.
  • “It’s been a struggle, let’s be honest, but it has been pretty exciting. I’ve heard other entrepreneurs say it doesn’t really feel like work when the challenge in front of you is as big as it is so there is an upside to it.” Eric Dahnke, Episode #19.
  • In regards to preparing for entrepreneurship: “The thing that makes a successful entrepreneur more than anything is just experience; experience, know-how, contacts, all of that. So the extent that you can put that together in your career as it exists before you step out will be a good way to go about it.” Eric Dahnke, Episode #19.

Stay Connected:

Benoy Thanjan

LinkedIn.com/bthanjan

www.reneuenergy.com

Facebook: Reneu Energy

info@reneuenergy.com

 

Eric Dahnke

Power Market Website

info@powermarket.io

https://www.linkedin.com/in/eric-dahnke-397b702/

 

SMP 20:  The Solar Intrapreneur Story:  How Nate helped IGS become one of the biggest solar asset owners in the US

SMP 20: The Solar Intrapreneur Story: How Nate helped IGS become one of the biggest solar asset owners in the US

March 19, 2019

About our Guest:

 

Benoy Thanjan

 

Benoy Thanjan is the Founder and CEO of Reneu Energy and he is also an advisor for several solar startup companies. Reneu Energy is a premier international solar energy consulting firm and developer and the company focuses on developing commercial and industrial solar and utility scale solar plus storage projects. The company also sources financing for solar projects and hedges energy and environmental commodities. Reneu Energy has brokered $27 million in environmental commodities transactions.

 

Benoy received his first experience in Finance as an intern at D.E. Shaw & Co., which is a global investment firm with 37 billion dollars in investment capital. Before founding Reneu Energy, he was the SREC Trader in the Project Finance Group for SolarCity which merged with Tesla in 2016. He originated SREC trades with buyers and co-developed their SREC monetization and hedging strategy with the senior management of SolarCity to move into the east coast markets. Benoy also worked at Vanguard Energy Partners, Ridgewood Renewable Power, and Deloitte & Touche.

 

Nathan Jovanelly

 

Nathan Jovanelly is a thought leader with IGS Solar, a third party gas and electric provider in most deregulated markets. As an intrapreneur, Nate assisted with launching IGS Solar, offering services to both residential and commercial customers. Receiving a Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Delaware, Nathan has pivoted in his business experience to become a well-rounded expert in the industry.

 

Episode Summary

 

Nathan and Benoy talk at length regarding the natural gas market and the varying aspects to being a third party energy supplier such as customer acquisition costs and simplifying complex contracts, as well as current trends in the solar industry. In addition, Nathan shares key thoughts on being an entrepreneur and how to successfully find your place your desired market.

 

Insight from this episode:

  • How being an intrapreneur and entrepreneur differ
  • How natural gas affects the solar and electric markets
  • The benefits of on site distribution generation as opposed to providing off site solar
  • How customer acquisition costs vary by area of the industry
  • How to make customers more comfortable and understanding of solar
  • How simplifying a process adds high levels of value
  • How to determine what is bankable and financeable for your business
  • How to successfully build relationships in your market

 

Quotes from the show:

    • “Solar is something that people want, they can understand, it’s very eloquent with no moving parts. You don’t have to worry about all this heat recapture, vibration and noise or where to put it.” Nathan Jovanelly, Episode #20.
    • “It’s very scalable (solar compared to CHP (combined Heat and Power). For the development of a CHP project, the complexity and time it takes vs solar that is a lot easier and you don’t have to worry about hedging natural gas.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #20.
    • “Natural gas has kept prices relatively low for a long time which basically impacts the electricity price because most generation now is through natural gas.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #20.
    • In regards to bridging and growing in your career: “You really need to pivot in business.” Nathan Jovanelly, Episode #20.
    • “Being an intrapreneur is maybe less risk than an entrepreneur but still you have to wake up with that grind mentality.” Nathan Jovanelly, Episode #20.
    • “Being an entrepreneur; you’re going to stub your toe and you have to learn from your mistakes.” Nathan Jovanelly, Episode #20.
    • “You always have to ask the value statement, ‘What is the market missing and how can we fill that gap?’” Nathan Jovanelly, Episode #20.
    • “I think solar plus storage is going to be a game changer; where you take intermittent power and now you’re able to store it and use it at different times to support the grid.” Benoy Thanjan, Episode #20.
    • “I feel like in the battery space, scale is really going to matter.” Nathan Jovanelly, Episode #20.
    • As quoted from a friend, one of the most important things in business is being customer friendly; “It’s got to be something your mom can read.” Nathan Jovanelly, Episode #20.
    • In regards to customer acquisition, “We haven’t cracked the code on digital marketing yet.”Nathan Jovanelly, Episode #20.

 

  • Every project is not as cookie cutter as people probably think.” Nathan Jovanelly, Episode #20.

 

 

Stay Connected:

Benoy Thanjan

info@reneuenergy.com

LinkedIn.com/bthanjan

Facebook: Reneu Energy

www.reneuenergy.com

Nathan Jovanelly

www.IGS.com

LinkedIn: Nathan Jovanelly

Twitter: @natejov

nathan.jovanelly@igs.com

 

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