Solar 2021

Sustainability Track: Responsible Solar

Session Moderator: Debbie Coleman

As solar becomes the rising star in the energy sector, there comes the responsibility of encouraging its rise in a manner to sustain living on earth. Although it is possible to place PV panels on poorly insulated buildings, or to construct large PV arrays to power luxury subdivisions, fewer PV panels would be needed for structures created with less embodied energy and lifestyles that consume less energy. What happens to the land beneath the large solar arrays covering acres of earth and to the panels themselves at the end of their life? How can solar assist with food production and cooking? These questions will be addressed with insightful presentations in the Responsible Solar Session of the Sustainability Track as examples are shared by individuals, businesses, non-profits and local government.


Responsible Solar Session Schedule:

    • Debbie Coleman, Moderator: Introduce speakers briefly and give an overview of the session.
    • Kate Collardson: (hybrid) BayWa RE
      • Recycling End of Life PV Modules” – This session will look at the options available for recycling end of life solar equipment and the barriers to industry adoption of this practice.
    • Victor Olgyay: (hybrid) Rocky Mountain Institute
      • “The Economics of Embodied Carbon: Driving Change Quickly”- This presentation demonstrates that we can cost-effectively reduce embodied carbon significantly in our new buildings today, by using existing materials that are widely available.
    • Monique Dyers: (hybrid) Ensight Energy Consulting
      • “Operation and Maintenance Consideration, DG Solar” – Solar energy provides opportunities to generate energy from renewable resources and reduce GHG emissions. Even as headlines trumpet a decreasing “levelized cost of energy” for renewable power sources, such estimates may fail to take into consideration variable OPEX during the useful life of the project, and end of life (decommissioning).   
    • Amanda Cotton and John Gilkeson: (virtual) Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
      • “A Review of Minnesota’s PV Panel Recycling Stakeholder Process” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency staff will review their PV panel recycling stakeholder process, including their goals, partners, topics covered, potential policy models and next steps.
    • William Young: (virtual) Florida Solar Energy Center
      • “Growing Implementation of City and County Sustainable Plans” – Local Governments are thinking about sustainability and developing plans for implementation.
    • Paulo Soares: (virtual) Penn State University
      • “PV+CROPS: A Transdisciplinary Framework for the Assessment of Suitable Agrivoltaic Areas Under Changing Climates” – The framework focuses on the use of agrivoltaic systems in places likely to experience increased drought events, offering a comprehensive display of the interconnections between food, energy, water, and people nexus.
    • Alan Bigelow: (virtual) Solar Cookers International
      • “Sharing the Resources of Solar Cookers International to Build Capacity in the Global Solar Cooking Movement” – All solar cooking collaborators are encouraged to utilize, contribute to, and share these resources to increase the adoption of solar cooking worldwide so many can reap these benefits.
    • Question and Answer – Moderator will present questions asked of the attendees through the online submission of questions. All speakers should be present.


Aug 05 2021


4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


West Ballroom


  • Alan Bigelow_
    Science Director at Solar Cookers International

    Alan Bigelow, Ph.D. joined Solar Cookers International (SCI) in 2016 as Science Director and Main Representative of SCI to the United Nations. He leads testing and performance evaluation programs at SCI and advocates for solar-thermal cooking at the United Nations. He has led solar cooking workshops internationally in India, Nepal, and Haiti, and has overseen fieldwork in Kenya. He participated in a solar expedition in Nepal where during nine days at high altitude all meals were prepared using portable solar cookers. Alan is a physicist and a solar cook, solar cooking at home as often as possible.

    Presentation Title:

    Presentation Description:
    2020 was an unprecedented year and 2021 is facing many of the same challenges. Solar cooking supports all 17 UN SDGs and is essential during times of crisis, and beyond. The benefits of solar cooking are many, including preventing greenhouse gas emissions and indoor air pollution; creating time for educational and microenterprise opportunities for females no longer collecting cooking fuel; increasing safety; saving money through reduced fuel costs; and protecting biodiversity.
    All solar cooking collaborators are encouraged to utilize, contribute to, and share these resources to increase the adoption of solar cooking worldwide so many can reap these benefits.

  • Amanda Cotton
    Amanda Cotton
    Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

    I have been working for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for 13 years, initially leading the Get the Lead Out program promoting non-lead tackle and then moved into coordinating the Minnesota Electronics Recycling Act. E-waste falls under Product Stewardship and over the years I have been able to work on additional products that need proper end-of-life management, such as batteries, carpet and solar panels. I believe that these discussions need to include views of everyone in the field, which is what my co-worker John Gilkeson and I have tried to do with the PV panel recycling topic.
    Presentation Title: A Review of Minnesota’s PV Panel Recycling Stakeholder Process

    Presentation Description: While the United States is excelling at moving from fossil fuels to green energy, such as solar, we have not prepared for how to manage and pay for the end-of-life of solar panels and additional equipment and infrastructure. We need to create a circular economy/sustainable materials management system where we are recycling and recovering valuable and highly engineered resources vs. landfill disposal. Now is the time for industry and other stakeholders to work together because “…proper end-of-life management is an indispensable issue for “clean” energy technologies.” [IRENA-IEA PVPS Task 12 PV Sustainability, Report IEA‐PVPS T12‐10:2018, page 5.]

  • John Gilkeson
    John Gilkeson
    Resource Management and Assistance Division at Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

    John Gilkeson has worked for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for about 30 years, focusing on pollution prevention, developing policies and programs to identify and use safer alternatives to toxic substances, and establishing collection and management infrastructure for toxic products in use by households and businesses.

  • Kate Collardson
    Kate Collardson
    Product Manager at BayWa RE

    Kate Collardson has served in many roles during her career in the solar industry. After entering the industry as an installer in 2006, she moved on to positions including designer, permit technician, trainer, program manager, technical support, and product manager. After years of lamenting the lack of recycling options for solar equipment, she became an advocate for PV recycling. She holds a NABCEP PV Installation Professional credential and currently serves as chair of the Sustainability Advisory Board for the City of Longmont, Colorado where she lives with her wife and their two children. Inspired to leave a habitable planet for her kids (all of them, really), she is known as a passionate advocate for sustainability. Kate has a B.A. in German from Colorado College and an MBA, with a Certificate in Sustainable Technology and management, from Arizona State University.

  • Monique Dyers
    Monique Dyers
    President/CEO at Ensight Energy Consulting

    Monique Dyers is the President and CEO of Ensight Energy Consulting, LLC, a technically based management consulting firm, specializing in providing technical, environmental, commercial and financial advisory services and solutions to developers, owners, and financial institutions of energy, power and energy infrastructure projects.
    Ms. Dyers has over 15 years of experience in the energy and power industry and has contributed to the industry in various technical and leadership roles. Her leadership and consulting experience include leading project feasibility studies, transmission and interconnection evaluations, equipment bankability studies, construction oversight and leading and managing due diligence reviews in support of the financing of energy, power, renewable energy and oil and gas projects. In addition, Ms. Dyers previously managed global teams in the design, development and performance validation of generator set engines and generators used in the energy and power industries. Ms. Dyers holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Master of Science in Electrical Engineering and has previously held senior consulting positions with other firms such as AWS Truepower LLC and Luminate LLC. In addition, she has held leadership and engineering positions with Vestas Technology R&D Americas and Caterpillar Inc.
    As an accomplished energy professional and business leader, Ms. Dyers is passionate about ensuring that underrepresented communities are educated on energy polices and issues which may affect their communities. Her passion for community is demonstrated in her contribution and dedication to several groups and organizations. She’s currently the President of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, Denver Chapter and serves on the boards of City and County of Denver Sustainability Advisory Council, and the Community College of Denver Foundation. Ms. Dyers has been recognized for her professional contributions as a recipient of the Denver Business Journal 2014 Forty Under 40 Award, 2015 Top Women in Energy Award, 2018 Who’s Who in Energy and 2019 Who’s Who in Energy.
    During Ms. Dyers’ tenure at Louisiana State University and A&M College, Ms. Dyers was initiated into the Mathematics Honor Society, Pi Mu Epsilon. She is also recognized as establishing a local Woman in Engineering Networking group at a previous employer.
    Ms. Dyers is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana and appreciates spending time with her family and friends, mentoring underprivileged students in the areas of mathematics and science, travel, golfing and designing pottery.

  • Paulo Soares
    Paulo Soares
    Ph.D. Candidate & Instructor at Penn State University

    Ph.D. in Energy Engineering focused on solar energy. I have more than ten years of experience in the renewable energy sector in two different countries, Brazil and the US. Besides solar, I am familiar with wind power generation. I also have a bachelor’s in Environmental Engineering and had conducted environmental assessment studies in Brazil. Besides engineering and research, I explored different career options, including starting my own business.
    In 2017 I started pursuing my doctoral degree at Pennsylvania State University (PSU), which I successfully completed in May of 2021. During my Ph.D. I investigated the relationship between solar energy generation and climate change. At Penn State, I worked in the line of research called Solar Ecology, where I developed economically accessible systems for measuring solar irradiance, using Python language, 3D printing, and machine learning algorithms. Moreover, my research touches on urban planning and food production (through solar agrivoltaics) using tools such as ArcGIS.
    During my career, I have been part of multi or transdisciplinary groups and I enormously enjoyed the experience. I am passionate about renewable energy generation as one of the paths for reversing the impacts caused by climate change.

    Presentation Title: PV+CROPS: A Transdisciplinary Framework for the Assessment of Suitable Agrivoltaic Areas Under Changing Climates

    Presentation Description: The rapid transformations in our environment caused by climate change demand innovative holistic approaches that can generate effective responses to those transformations. This work fulfills this demand by presenting a tool designed to facilitate the interaction of the elements within multi or transdisciplinary groups, potentially decreasing the time from planning to action. The framework focuses on the use of agrivoltaic systems in places likely to experience increased drought events, offering a comprehensive display of the interconnections between food, energy, water, and people nexus.

  • Victor Olgyay
    Victor Olgyay
    Rocky Mountain Institute

    Victor Olgyay, AIA is a Principal in Rocky Mountain Institute’s Buildings Practice where he promotes widespread adoption of net zero district developments, low embodied carbon materials, and comprehensive building energy retrofits.

    From 1993 to 2000 Victor was an Associate Professor and Director of Research at the University of Hawaii School of Architecture and was Chairman of the AIA Honolulu Energy and Environment Committee. Victor has served on the Board of Directors for the American Solar Energy Society and is currently on the University of Colorado Design Review Board, the AIA National COTE AG, and the GSA Green Building Advisory Committee.
    Presentation Title: The Economics of Embodied Carbon: Driving change quickly

    Presentation Description: To drive change quickly, address climate change, and move the market, we need to demonstrate the economic benefits of low embodied carbon materials. This presentation demonstrates the business case for using low embodied carbon materials in high performance building construction. We show that we can cost-effectively reduce embodied carbon significantly in our new buildings today, by using existing materials that are widely available. This information helps consumers and municipal entities to justify their demand for low embodied carbon products, and for manufacturers to develop them. In this way we can move the market for low embodied carbon materials.

  • William Young_
    William Young_
    Florida Solar Energy Center

    William Young career specialized in renewable and alternative energy for use in disaster relief and in ensuring a sustainable future for over 30 years. Bill holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Sciences with a major in Electrical Engineering from the University of Central Florida. He cooperated with the U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, SANDIA labs, Solar Energy Industry
    Association and many other organization. In 1990, he started work at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) as a Senior Research Engineer. FSEC is an energy research institute of the University of Central Florida. Bill’s work included development, design, evaluation, standards, testing, teaching and implementation of photovoltaic (PV) power applications, both stand-alone and utility grid-tied interactive systems for projects across the world.

    Presentation Title: Growing Implementation of City and County Sustainability Plans

    Presentation Description: This presents a growing movement by local governments towards sustainability in a real way. Plans are being developed and implemented by City and County government across the country. What worked and did not work in the design and operation was researched during 2020 program inspection and evaluation providing real life research and results that effected each system performance.

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