My Interview for CODE_n Blog

The folks over at CODE_n Blog recently asked to interview me about various cleantech matters. Below is the full interview, reposted from the CODE_n Blog… blog:

Zachary Shahan is the editor and director of CleanTechnica and Planetsave. CleanTechnica is the #1 site in the US for cleantech news and commentary, with a focus on solar energy, wind energy & other renewable energy sources.

Janina Benz: Why were you inspired to start reporting on cleantech?

Zachary Shahan: I’ve had a passion for protecting the environment we all live in since I was a teenager. Before blogging, I had worked to do my part to get us back on a sustainable societal track through the eco-friendly food industry, city/regional planning and bicycle advocacy. I fell into blogging very serendipitously after I saw an advertisement to blog for Green Options Media (now called Important Media) — I thought I’d primarily do it as a hobby at first. Once I got into it, I realized I could turn it into a full-time job. I initially started out writing on sites more focused on green living and environmental news, but then was channeled over to CleanTechnica, where I began my in-depth education in clean energy and other types of cleantech. My focus on that eventually took off due to it being such an important and fast-growing sector.

JB: What do you think is the most critical issue facing the cleantech industry today?

ZS: Quite simply, certain industries and politicians are lying about it. By any thorough, realistic evaluation, cleantech (such as wind energy, solar energy, and electric vehicles) is cheaper, better for the economy, and better for long-term life on this planet. It is simply rich industries threatened by this, and the politicians they support, that keep us from making a faster (and very needed) transition to a cleantech economy.

JB: Which new developments are you most excited about, and why?

ZS: Energy storage in general, but in particular home energy storage. There’s a lot happening in this space, and when cheap energy storage (especially home energy storage) hits the market, clean energy, especially solar, is going to skyrocket (more than it already is). With or without governmental support, these are the solutions that address the important health, environmental, and climate costs of pollution from dirty energy.

I’m also quite excited about electric vehicles, even though I haven’t owned a car in about 8 years and have no plan to own one again. And, of course, who isn’t excited about solar power’s tremendous growth?

JB: If you could give one piece of advice to a start-up entering the cleantech industry, what would it be?

ZS: It really depends on the start-up. But as a general piece of advice: really get to know the market you’re thinking about getting into — get to know what’s expected to come on the table in the next few years, and get to know where there really is substantial demand (your product might sound nice in theory, but is there a real demand for it?). And related to that, remain versatile! Things change, be prepared to change to fit society’s (and your sector’s) evolution.

JB: Generally speaking, do you think that people are getting more aware about cleantech solutions?

ZS: Yes, I definitely think people are getting more aware. But slowly and with many steps backward. Nowadays, people’s knowledge about cleantech is better, and with its rapid growth, people are seeing that it’s not only better in the long run; it’s better and completely realistic and viable right now. Several cleantech sectors are growing like weeds. People see that. They see the jobs being created. They see the transition to clean energy and more energy-efficient products. They see it. But not everyone. And there are a lot of lies put out there (especially from certain media agencies — ahem, Fox News, Wall Street Journal — and politicians). And those lies genuinely confuse large portions of the public.

So, yes, people are getting more aware, but not everyone, and not as much as I think we need, which is why I’m in the business of trying to better educate as many people as possible!

JB: Thanks for your time!

Note: Views and opinions expressed in this interview are the author’s do not necessarily represent those of GFT or CODE_n.