“Matching entrepreneurs with resources in the industry was the mission of this event,” said Jeff Marks, Executive Director of the Portland-based E2Tech event late last week. In fact, the full day of panels, Q&As and networking was an unique opportunity for the 350 people who registered for the day long event to learn about best practices and get advice from those in a position to offer it. Just a few of the many highlights for this “technically challenged” blogger from a day of fascinating discoveries, follow….
The well-known Dr. Habib Dagher, in the lead-off panel of the day, said that Maine is well-positioned to be the top producer of offshore wind energy by 2027. With him is a prototype of a recently patented (Volturn US) floating wind turbine. This turbine floats on the water, about 20 – to 50 miles offshore, where the winds are strongest. Because of the curvature of the earth, it can’t be seen beyond the horizon, Dr. Dagher told this blogger. One gwatt equals one nuclear power plan. Four thousand gwatts of offshore wind capacity is enough capacity to power the entire country four times over. (I hope I got that right! See left top photo of Dr. Dagher and the floating wind turbine.)
Dr. Dagher is a professor of civil engineering and also manages a Center that has 500 clients all over the world. It researches material and structures to build “things” for clients. The $8 million in income supports USM, Orono students through scholarships. There are 100 students participating with a staff of 50 full-time.
Two businesses well-known to southern Mainers were represented by their owners: Bob Garver, co-owner with his wife, Wicked Joe Organic Coffees, and the winner of Mainebiz’s Small business Leaders of 2017 Award, told an audience at the Abromson Center, USM, on Thursday, November 16, 2017, that “conventional coffee is one of the most heavily chemically treated foods in the world.” Partly because of the health and safety of working with coffee, Wicked Joe roasts only organic – all up in Topsham and sells to 3,000 organic coffee stores. The couple emphasizes “great” coffee rather than “growth” – knowing the growth will follow. They own the Bard Coffee Shop in downtown Portland.
Phil Coupe, co-founder of the 14 year old ReVision Energy, on the same panel as Bob Garver that focused on Maine’s Innovative & Entrepreneurial Community, said that “renewable energy is winning in the marketplace and at the kitchen table today, because clean technology has become cost-competitive with fossil fuels and because most rational people want clean air, clean water and a relatively stable environment.” Coupe said that while there are “colossal” challenges due to the size of carbon pollution, there are tremendous economic opportunities in the manufacturing and installation of the clean tech infrastructure that will eventually replace the need for us to extract, transport and combust fossil fuels. In 2010, ReVision built Maine’s first solar-powered electric vehicle charging station. The company, founded in a local garage, has grown to five locations in New England. (See above right photo of Garver and Coupe.)
The “Odd Couple” were part of the last panel of the day; “On the case for a new innovation policy.” Steven McGrath, Governor LePage’s energy adviser said that he favors a low-cost policy. “We need low-cost energy and that’s what divides us,” McGrath told Representative Grohman. “We have an opportunity to capture low prices on renewables now and fossil fuel looks like it’s hitting a floor and the cost will start going up….the price of renewables will go up as fossil fuels go up. That will get more renewable projects built and that is good in the long run,” said Representative Grohman, (I), representing District 12. (See above left photo of the two.)
The Environmental and Energy Technology Council of Maine (E2Tech) is the State’s leading energy, environmental and clean technology business and economic development organization acting as a catalyst, a change agent and a resource center. For more information, please visit www.E2Tech.org. The email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org; or 207 956-1970.