Factor This! is a podcast designed for the solar energy industry. Every other Monday, Factor This! takes on solar’s top stories with industry leaders who actually move the needle.
The podcast debuted with a four-part, deep-dive series on the Auxin Solar tariff petition, which brought the industry to a complete halt over the threat of retroactive tariffs on modules imported from Southeast Asia. The series is available wherever you get your podcasts.
Factor This! is hosted by Renewable Energy World’s John Engel. Connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Beginning Aug. 1, Factor This! becomes a weekly podcast. Make sure to tune in every Monday!
Below, you will find a list of episodes and links to individual show notes.
Factor This! episode list
Episode 19: The race is on to meet demand with made-in-America solar modules
Aired Oct. 3, 2022
In June, President Joe Biden announced a two-year pause on new tariffs on solar modules imported from Southeast Asia – much-needed relief for the industry that was brought to a standstill.
Weeks later, though, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act took effect and has resulted in the detention of modules believed to have been manufactured in the Xinjiang region of China using forced labor.
Vulnerabilities in the solar supply chain have been magnified over the past year. With historic incentives for domestic solar production secured by the Inflation Reduction Act, can the US ramp up manufacturing capacity before new tariffs are potentially imposed as a result of the Auxin Solar petition?
On Episode 19 of the Factor This! podcast, leaders from Cypress Creek Renewables, Lightsource bp, and Qcells took on this all-important question live from RE+ in Anaheim.
Episode 18: Celebrating clean energy risk takers
Aired Sep. 26, 2022
Before the Inflation Reduction Act, working and succeeding in clean energy came with quite a bit of risk. Now with historic legislation in place, it’s time to honor those risk takers for laying the groundwork for the new level of certainty not seen before in the industry.
Tom Weirich, who leads marketing efforts in North America for EDP Renewables, chronicles the stories of those clean energy visionaries in his forthcoming book,We Took the Risk.
Weirich joins Episode 18 of the Factor This! podcast to share some highlights from the book before it’s released on October 1.
Episode 17: Solar’s report card is coming. And a reckoning could follow
Aired Sep. 19. 2022
Over the past year, DroneBase, a company that conducts aerial assessments of utility-scale solar projects, drove up and down the western and eastern seaboards of North America to develop what it hopes will become a comprehensive database of every major solar project.
A resource like this would give DroneBase the ability to rate developers, EPCs, and asset owners, as well as the manufacturers of modules, trackers, and inverters, based on performance.
That report card could bring a new level of transparency, and a reckoning, to the solar industry.
Mark Culpepper, the general manager of DroneBase’s solar division, joins Episode 17 of the Factor This!™ podcast to discuss the new platform and the implications for the industry.
Episode 16: FERC Commissioner Allison Clements on record heat, resiliency, and smart grids
Aired Sept. 12, 2022
As Labor Day weekend came to a close, a sense of dread settled in at the home of Allison Clements, who was appointed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2020.
On the cusp of entering fifth grade, Clements’ daughter was tasked with completing a homework assignment over the summer break. And of course, it wasn’t done.
Upgrading the U.S. electric grid is akin to the nation’s own summer homework, Clements said on Episode 16 of the Factor This!. And Labor Day weekend has long since passed as an opportunity to complete catch-up work.
Clements discussed record heat in the West, resiliency, and FERC’s effort to reform transmission planning and interconnection rules.
Episode 15: Beware of the clean energy gold rush
Airing Sep. 5
Factor This! recently featured Pine Gate Renewable CEO Ben Catt, a developer of utility-scale solar and storage projects, who discussed the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act on clean energy capital markets from the perspective of a project owner and developer.
Now, in Episode 15, Factor This! flips the script with Leyline Renewable Capital’s CEO Erik Lensch, who shares how the legislation will impact the availability and deployment of capital for clean energy projects.
Tune in for insights on changes to growth equity, tax equity, and project debt markets as the clean energy industry sprints to realize the benefits of the landmark law.
Episode 14: Building the next-generation solar farm
Aired Aug. 29
With the Inflation Reduction Act’s historic investments in clean energy and climate change in place, U.S. solar power development is expected to explode over the next decade.
But meeting lofty decarbonization goals won’t be easy— siting challenges, interconnection delays, and supply chain constraints all stand in the way.
In Episode 14 of the Factor This! podcast, Terabase co-founder and CEO Matt Campbell shares how his company is using software and automation to redefine how gigantic solar farms get built and are managed.
Episode 13: Going beyond the PPA with Clearloop CEO Laura Zapata
Aired Aug. 22
The power purchase agreement has done wonders for the deployment of clean energy.
Corporations can offset their annual energy consumption with long-term offtake contracts for solar and wind farms.
But what if that financial model doesn’t work for every business—especially smaller ones that still want to make an impact? And does traditional clean energy procurement offset as much carbon as possible?
There’s a new player solar that thinks they can address both of those challenges. In Episode 12 of Factor This!, Laura Zapata explains the mission behind Clearloop.
Episode 12: Green hydrogen: What’s next for the energy transition’s secret weapon?
Aired Aug. 19
In this bonus episode of Factor This!™, we introduce you to the RENWABLE+ Series™from Renewable Energy World®. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to tackling solar’s biggest stories on Monday.
In this +Series discussion, panelists from EDP Renewables, Generate Capital, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory break down what’s next for green hydrogen— the energy transition’s secret weapon.
- Bryan Pivovar, Senior Research Fellow I-Materials Science, NREL
- Ana Quelhas, Managing Director for Hydrogen, EDP Renewables (EDPR)
- Brandon Moffatt, VP, Generate Capital
While green hydrogen’s versatility offers potential answers to some of the energy transition’s most challenging questions, factors such as scale, scope, and affordability remain daunting challenges.
Tune into Episode 12 of the Factor This!™ now and check out the RENEWABLE+ Series™ archive here as well as the other RENEWABLE+ Series™️ archives.
Episode 11: Taking on solar’s recycling imperative
Airing Aug. 15
Around 70% of solar systems in the U.S. are less than five years old, and with a lifespan of 30 years or more, recycling may not seem urgent.
But multi-gigawatt demand for solar recycling awaits the industry in the decades to come. The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates global solar PV waste will reach 78 million tonnes by 2050—with those raw materials worth $15 billion.
How do we scale solar recycling to meet the need, and who’s going to capture that market?
On Episode 11 of the Factor This! podcast, Suvi Sharma – the solar veteran who co-founded Solaria and Nextracker – shares how his latest startup, SOLARCYCLE, is taking on solar’s recycling imperative.
Episode 10: What’s going on in clean energy capital markets? (Pt. 1)
Aired Aug. 8
Think back to June. President Biden had just paused new tariffs on solar modules imported from Southeast Asia—a lifeline for the solar industry after months of tumult caused by the Auxin Solar tariff petition.
Shipments resumed. Projects restarted. Stability returned.
Then came rising interest rates, record inflation, and recession anxiety, all complicating the buildout of clean energy infrastructure.
In Episode 10 of the Factor This! podcast, Pine Gate Renewables CEO Ben Catt breaks down what’s going on in clean energy capital markets, fresh off raising $500 million for his utility-scale solar and storage development company. Plus, Catt shares how clean energy business models are evolving.
Episode 9: Breaking down FERC’s interconnection reform plan
Aired August 1
In June, FERC laid out a set of proposed rules to address possibly the biggest threat facing clean energy deployment goals in the US: interconnection delays.
The notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) identified ways to tackle widespread challenges that have led to years-long interconnection request backlogs across the country.
Jeff Dennis, managing director for the advocacy group Advanced Energy Economy, and a former FERC policy staffer, joins Episode 9 of Factor This! to break down what’s in the FERC interconnection NOPR and what comes next.
Episode 8: Manchin makes a deal
Aired July 28 (bonus episode)
In a shocking turn of events late on the afternoon of July 27th, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced that he had reached a deal with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on a budget reconciliation package that includes $369 billion.
Jose Zayas, EVP of Policy and Programs, American Council on Renewable Energy, joined Episode 8 of the Factor This! podcast for a rapid reaction to the reconciliation news.
Episode 7: Why ‘Made in America’ matters
Aired July 18
A global energy crisis, trade disputes, and shipping constraints have magnified the importance of secure supply chains. Maybe no industry has been more exposed to those headwinds over the past two years than solar.
Even before the Auxin Solar tariff petition threatened the U.S. solar industry’s survival, Nextracker founder and CEO Dan Shugar bet that ‘Made in America’ would soon matter more than ever.
Over the past four months, Nextracker, a leading manufacturer of trackers for utility-scale solar projects, has opened three steel production facilities in the U.S. in pursuit of ramping up 10 GW of domestic capacity.
In Episode 7 of the Factor This! podcast, Shugar explains the decision and predicts how the U.S. solar supply chain will continue to evolve. Plus, he gives a sneak peek at Nextracker’s next manufacturing announcement.
Episode 6: California NEM 3.0: Rooftop solar’s biggest fight is back on
Aired July 1, 2022
In Episode 6 of the Factor This! podcast, rooftop solar’s biggest fight — California’s net energy metering reform process — is back on. The California Public Utilities Commission has reopened the docket for NEM 3.0, which rooftop solar advocates warn could have a devastating impact on the industry nationwide.
Vote Solar’s new executive director, Sachu Constantine, takes Factor This! to the front lines of the policy fight and shares how he plans to move one of the leading solar advocacy groups to its next chapter. Episode 5 will air on July 1 ahead of the holiday weekend.
Episode 6’s show notes and transcript are available here.
Special Edition: Shaping the grid of the future
Aired June 27, 2022
How to manage and monetize distributed energy resources is one of the most rapidly changing pieces of the energy transition.
Every few weeks it seems a new software startup has raised tens (sometimes, hundreds) of millions of dollars in pursuit of those challenges. Meanwhile, utilities are watching the electricity distribution model that has stood up for a hundred years get turned on its head.
In a special edition of Factor This!, Episode 5 is live from DISTRIBUTECH and POWERGEN International in Dallas last May, hear from Jim Walsh, who leads GE Digital’s grid software business, about the enabling forces behind the energy transition.
Episode 5’s show notes and transcript are available here.
Episode 4: A lifeline from Biden (Pt. 4 of the Auxin Solar series)
Aired: June 20, 2022
President Joe Biden has paused for two years any new tariffs on solar modules imported from four Southeast Asian countries that are the subject of a federal trade investigation and issued a wartime emergency declaration to boost domestic manufacturing of solar modules.
Experts say it could take about two years to ramp up a domestic solar supply chain that can meet U.S. demand. Will the industry seize the moment? On top of building out domestic manufacturing, how can the industry make sure a trade petition like Auxin Solar’s doesn’t bring the entire industry to its knees again?
Solar Energy Industries Association CEO Abigail Ross Hopper answers those questions and tells us what finally led the Biden administration to step in on the trade case in Episode 4 of Factor This!, the final installment in the Auxin Solar series.
Plus, Intersect Power CEO Sheldon Kimber, formerly of Recurrent Energy, breaks down the path forward for the solar industry.
Episode 4’s show notes and transcript are available here.
Episode 3: Supply chain sacrifice (Pt. 3 of the Auxin Solar series)
Aired: June 6, 2022
In Episode 3 of the Factor This! podcast, Rhone Resch, the CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association from 2004-16, looks back at solar’s “boom” and his regret as the former head of the industry’s leading trade group of not prioritizing domestic solar manufacturing. He explains why now is the time to invest in a domestic supply chain.
Plus, Martin Pochtaruk, CEO of North American solar manufacturer Heliene, joins the podcast to talk about the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act and how proposed incentives for domestic manufacturing would impact production in the U.S.
Finally, Michael Parr, executive director of the Ultra Low Carbon Solar Alliance discusses how focusing on solar’s carbon footprint could spur domestic manufacturing.
Episode 3’s show notes and transcript are available here.
Episode 2: Solar’s political risk (Pt. 2 of the Auxin Solar series)
Aired: May 22, 2022
In Episode 2 of the Factor This! podcast, Lightsource bp Americas CEO Kevin Smith describes how one of the world’s largest solar developers is approaching the Auxin Solar tariff petition and the threat of additional tariffs on imported modules. Smith is interviewed from London as he prepared to meet with company executives about the political risk materializing in the U.S. solar market due to the petition.
Also in this episode, American Clean Power Association CEO Heather Zichal, a former Obama administration climate and energy official, explains why she is taking the lead in a multi-million-dollar campaign to oppose the Biden Administration on tariffs. She knows President Joe Biden well but isn’t holding back in her criticism of the Biden administration’s investigation.
Episode 2’s show notes and transcript are available here.
Episode 1: Who is Auxin Solar? (Pt. 1 of the Auxin Solar series)
Aired: May 9, 2022
The first episode of the Factor This! podcast includes an exclusive interview with Auxin Solar CEO Mamun Rashid, who gives his first extensive interview since filing the tariff petition that has rocked the solar industry.
Rashid laid out his reasons for filing the petition and why his company could end up closing as a result of taking on this fight. And, for the first time, he addresses allegations that Auxin is a front for a larger tariff campaign.
Episode 1’s show notes and transcript are available here.
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Author: Renewable Energy World