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Perhaps the most passionate movers of sustainability is students. Olivier Pin√ßon (pronounced Pinson) is a transplant from Paris. He began his master’s degree thesis at Stanford in 2006 and says he’s literally surrounded by innovation in Silicon Valley. His first new English word that he learned was venture capitalist!
In this Soundbite, Olivier talks about his research in concentrated solar thermal power technology.
Who: Olivier Pin√ßon, French native and Stanford Master’s candidate of electrical engineering: “Conserve, use electric or plug-in hybrids and promote clean energy.”
Where: Stanford Organics Electronics Lab (SOEL) works on different research projects in the Electrical Engineering department to investigate ways to convert solar energy into electrical energy.
The R&D challenge:Solar energy installers, like Akeena and SunPower currently use PV solar, which utilize residential and business rooftops to harness energy from the sun. Olivier’s research on Concentrated Solar Thermal Power, or CSP, is for an entirely different market. CSP can produce huge amounts of energy relative to PV.
“You cannot get 300MW of power with PV (at least no one has done it before), and you cannot put a CSP plant on your roof. (Concentrated solar power plants) are an economically attractive way to harness solar energy. We use large arrays of mirror to focus light to heat up a fluid that drives a turbine to produce clean electricity…I try to find out how structured nanomaterials can be used in these systems to absorb more sunlight and limit thermal losses…Eventually, this can improve efficiency and decrease the cost of produced electricity.”
On political support for clean energy: “The American public and policymakers need to be more aware of the tremendous potential of solar energy. The technology is available, but all we need is industrial development to get a significant proportion of our energy from the sun.”
How individuals can create social change within companies:
“It helps to form a group of motivated “green” people – Stanford has several pro-sustainability groups for students. (That) is probably a first step to driving change. Now that environmental consciousness has gone mainstream, every corporate management should support pushes for recycling, energy efficiency, or saving paper as long as it seems reasonable (for the company).”
More on SOEL: http://peumans-pc.stanford.edu/
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Clara Kuo is a marketing communications strategist with an MBA in international marketing from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Her professional interests include social media, entrepreneurship/intrapreneurship and the triple bottom line. She blogs here and on her self-named blog (www.clarakuo.com).