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Live From the Solar BoS Charrette

By Rebecca Cole

This week, RMI’s Solar “Balance of Systems” Charette kicked off to a great start in San Jose with Mayor Chuck Reed thanking the Institute for coming to the area —“We could use the economic boost,” he joked.

Kidding aside, Reed impressed upon the group that, as the capital of Silicon Valley—the “innovation center of the world” —riding the clean tech wave is essential to the economy of the area. The mayor’s No. 1 priority: bring home 25,000 new clean tech jobs.

Solar is a big part of catching that wave. Home to many leading companies in the solar industry, the city recently unveiled a 1.12 megawatt roof-mounted solar photovoltaic electric system at the Mineta San Jose International airport.

Deploying the technology, Reed said, is the easy part.

“The hard part is the bureaucratic inertia in changing a system, in changing the way we do business,” he said. “It’s about first figuring out how to fail. It’s kind of a Silicon Valley tradition to build on the failures.”

In explaining why RMI relies on Charrettes to bust barriers and tackle big challenges, Chief Scientist Amory Lovins said the reason they work is that they bring together the right stakeholders and organize them the right way.

“This room is full of remarkable people,” Lovins said. “As the old African proverb says, ‘If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.’ We’re going to do both—walk fast and far.”

Rebecca Cole is RMI's online editor.

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