BY BETH OFFENBACKER, Ph.D., Waterford, Inc.
Capping off an exciting day at the 3rd Annual Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza at The George Washington University (GW) on February 24, 2017, there was a networking reception featuring an expert in clean energy Solutions and policy, Scott Sklar.
Following welcoming remarks by Executive Director of Leaders in Energy, Janine Finnell, Joshua Kaplan of Green Drinks DC thanked participants for attending. Green Drinks DC cosponsored the Extravaganza, and Kaplan invited people to attend upcoming Green Drinks DC programs. Romi Sopa from the Association of Energy Engineers also gave remarks.
Joe Cascio, co-director of the Environmental and Energy Management Institute at GW, highlighted the university’s longstanding commitment to energy policy and innovation. With no further ado, he introduced speaker Scott Sklar.
Sklar shared his reflections on the growth of the renewable energy field over the past four decades:
In the 1970s, he said, people laughed about the concept of clean energy. A common sentiment was, “’There’s no way there will be wind farms,” Sklar recalled.
- “When I started there was $100 million invested in clean energy, and most of that was hydro,” he said. Today there is $365 billion in private sector financing for renewable energy worldwide.
- Conversion and use of energy is “the single largest cause of global warming.”
- “If you’re into economic growth and jobs, energy is how we’ll get there.” There were 1 million U.S. jobs in clean energy in 2016 – that’s 260,000 FTEs in solar; 101,000 FTEs in wind; and 130,000 in bioenergy. More people are employed in clean energy than the coal mining industry (120,000). Clean energy jobs are located in every state of the country.
Sklar concluded by thanking those who attended the Extravaganza “and for being part of this movement.”
“We’re changing how we use energy,” he said, and he encouraged participants to be advocates for energy choices—good ones.
“Change is really hard,” Sklar said, echoing some of the themes that came out during the earlier panels, “Most of the major inventors [in the clean energy field] and those pushing policy and utility regulatory reform were ridiculed when they started. Moving this change will make a better world, a better planet, and a better place for your kids.”
The Energy and Sustainability Extravaganza featured a series of panels, including a CWEEL luncheon, presentations by university sustainability officers and by vendors with sustainable solutions, town hall discussion with government leaders, and networking reception.
Photos courtesy of Agustin Cruz and Janine Finnell.