Welcome to the Clean Power Hour! Today on the Clean Power Hour, Tim Montague is joined by a very special guest - Nico Johnson, the host of the SunCast Podcast and a leading expert in the solar industry.
Nico Johnson is a 17-year solar veteran, Chief Content Officer of SunCast Media, and host of the popular SunCast Podcast. SunCast Media began as the first-ever podcast focused on the solar industry in emerging markets back in 2015 and has now emerged as a go-to resource for entrepreneurs and solar professionals from many walks of life in the renewable energy space.
In this episode, Nico joins Tim Montague to discuss his fascinating background and experience in the solar industry. He was an early adopter and owner of a solar startup in 2006. Then got utility-scale solar project development, product sales & finance. Nico is a unique voice in the industry and has produced over 590 episodes of the Suncast Podcast. "SunCast is dedicated to providing the knowledge, research, tools, and expert guidance you need to understand, grow and be ahead of the curve in the fastest-growing solar markets in the world."
He shares his journey from being a musician and music producer to joining the solar industry during grad school. He shares valuable insights into the American solar landscape, discussing the current state of the industry and the trends that are shaping its future like the Inflation Reduction Act and its oversized impact on the solar industry. He breaks down the key provisions of the act and provides his expert opinion on how it will affect solar businesses and consumers alike.
But that's not all - Nico also shares his insights into the world of podcasting, including his journey as a solar podcaster and the challenges he has faced along the way. He provides tips and advice on how to succeed as a solar podcaster, including how to build a loyal audience and create engaging content.
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The Clean Power Hour is brought to you by CPS America, maker of North America’s number one 3-phase string inverter, with over 6GW shipped in the US. With a focus on commercial and utility-scale solar and energy storage, the company partners with customers to provide unparalleled performance ...
The Clean Power Hour is produced by the Clean Power Consulting Group and created by Tim Montague. Please subscribe on your favorite audio platform and on Youtube: bit.ly/cph-sub | www.CleanPowerHour.com | contact us by email: CleanPowerHour@gmail.com | Speeding the energy transition!
Pod vaping is your real most people? So Tim Ferriss actually gave great advice on this several years ago. He says, If you're going to do it, commit to at least 10 episodes, and then if it doesn't feel right, if it doesn't feel like it's going in the right direction, find a new trajectory. Find a new medium podcast. Some folks miss the reality that podcast is a megaphone. It is simply a marketing channel. It's a marketing medium.intro:
Are you speeding the energy transition? Here at the Clean Power Hour, our hosts, Tim Montague and John Weaver bring you the best in solar batteries and clean technologies every week, I want to go deeper into decarbonisation. We do too. We're here to help you understand and command the commercial, residential and utility, solar, wind and storage industries. So let's get to it. Together, we can speed the energy transition.Tim Montague:
My guest today is a 17 year veteran of the solar industry. He's a solar professional. He's a marketer, a salesperson and investor in technology companies. He's best known as a solar and storage podcaster. He is the chief content officer of SunCast media and host of the popular SunCast podcast. Welcome to the show. Nico Johnson.Nico Johnson:
It is so awesome to be on the show. Tim, I haven't had the pleasure. It's like first time caller, longtime listener kind of thing for me. I've been watching you grow this show. And it's, and it's really taken off for you. Congratulations. I'm glad to have a chance to join you.Tim Montague:
Yeah, it's it's great to have you. You've been on the show before brother. But it wasn't called Clean Power Hour. It was not that is so true. That is so true. It's heady days in the solar industry. We're going to geek out on why that is we're going to talk about your legacy in the podcasting world. But first, we want to hear a little bit about Nico Johnson, like how the heck did you get interested in solar? You got interested early on. But you were a musician of all things first and foremost. So I'm just Yeah, I just want to let our listeners get a taste. We could talk all day about Nico Johnson, but we're gonna give them a taste of of your background and how you got into clean energy.Nico Johnson:
Yeah, it's, it's a new experience for me. And I want to first say thank you. You reached out and said, Miko you do, you'd never guessed on other podcasts and you've got a great story. Let's turn the mic on you. So thank you for doing that. It puts me in the uncomfortable position of being asked questions. I like to say that I'm a professional question. Asker you know, and you're at that invariable like dinner party or mixer or whatever people say, what do you do? And is I think the worst networking question I'll just say I'm a question asker. Because your goal in those kinds of meetings is to get people to basically say, Tell me more. And and then what I got interested in renewables through the grad school programme, I had just come back from two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, and I had for that been in the music industry thought I was going to sing in Nashville was destined for the stage in the stars, and really thought I'd be a recording artist or working at a recording studio, eventually running my own. I'd spent time running artists relations for the largest concert promoter in the Christian music industry. Back in California, when I was living there, and had this crossroads where I very clearly remember sitting down with Professor Frederick crop. Thank you, Dr. crop. The power and influence of someone giving you a gentle nudge in a certain direction has moved my life in some significant ways. The first was someone suggesting I go to the Peace Corps, which fundamentally changed my sort of corporate ladder climb as it were. The second was Dr. crop, I was in his entrepreneur class and he said you had this option. We have the Monterey Jazz Festival, world renowned festival right here in our backyard in Monterey, where I was living at the time, lay up for you. You're a music executive that understands the industry, this would be great project for you. It was a semester long entrepreneurship project to help them with that year's festival. Or we've got this company called h2 solutions, local clean energy provider that's really trying to figure out his business model. And as a fork in the road, he said you pick I think that you should take the one that's the clean energy thing and figure that out, because you can always fall back on music. And I never thankfully had to fall back on music. I ended up starting a solar company with that. Individuals named Edie bless I'm really grateful that had that opportunity started a company called Blue Line power. That got me into the solar industry. I wasn't looking for a chance to get in the solar industry. But yeah, thank you 2006. Several months earlier, Governor Schwarzenegger and the California Senate had passed HB one which is the house Senate Bill one that was now known as the California Solar Initiative, the million solar roofs programme, and also launched what we know is the the race to sort of state by state dominance. California has almost always led that race from a residential and utility scale. installations prospective, in no small part thanks to the legislation that incentivize an incredible amount of solar adoption. We've passed the million roofs roofs in California now and and now we're installing a half a gigawatt a quarter in the United States, which is tremendous. We were in installing a half a gigawatt in the world. When when that legislation 2006 was passed. So I saw an opportunity in that group project to and I was invited by that entrepreneur to join him on that on that venture. I sort of took the mantle of like, okay, let's figure out this solar thing. And we were competing at the time with my friend Barry cinnamon over at Akina solar before it was Westinghouse and Solar City when it was it had literally just acquired one, electrical contractor, independent energy systems and Perregaux. And so many others in California that are just the OGS of the industry. I call many of them. The founders of those companies, friends now, thanks to the podcast, but it was a it was a really crazy time. And we didn't, we could only hope that the industry would ever achieve what it has achieved now. And that's how I got into the solar industry. I can unpack more if you want. But that's effectively that was a fork in the road for me from being a musician that thought he'd be lifelong on stage to a foray through a number of solar companies. And back to the microphone.Tim Montague:
Fast forward 17 years, you've now been producing SunCast for many years, you according to your website have produced 586 episodes of SunCast. And I started listening when I was just getting into solar PV in oh six now sorry, in 2016. You were very focused on lat Tam, the Latin American market with your show at that time, but let's talk about some of the watermarks in your solar industry experience. Right. You worked for Trina, you work for Connor G. Trina is still of course a household name in the industry. I'm less familiar with Connor G. But yeah, give us give us some of the highlights.Nico Johnson:
I'll give you a little bit of the taxonomy. So from that experience in 2006 2008, we hit the financial crisis I went to work for the den largest Commercial Roofer In California, a company called Davie roofing known as dri commercial. I was the first sales guy on a small team that created this product that was pretty unique. It was a peel and stick large format four by eight imagine a piece of plywood that you can stick to the roof and it had monocrystalline solar cells on it. Right. So as a matter, that product is still around and still in partnership with 2007 Holy moly. Yeah. So there was a company at that time called Open Solar up in Seattle that had a similar product, you know, similar companies. Now you've got what's Murali is company I'm blanking on there's a company now out of Silicon Valley that is doing quite well with a similar format. Merlin. Merlin, thank you. Yep. So precursor to open to Merlin and others who figured out how to make the format work. And they're doing incredibly well. They. So that product wasn't quite ready for primetime. I went over and worked in the commercial side of the business, selling solar to municipalities in all across California to water districts and really learned how the solar industry works at that point. From a project development project management perspective. We did about 40 million in sales as a distributed as a channel partner for SunEdison got to know the SunEdison team really well, a lot of my relationships that fed into the podcast eventually came from these next two moves. So being a dri and then taking a job at Trina Solar, I was hired by a guy named Mike Renaud several listeners may know Mike, he has had an illustrious career as well just sold his business to strata clean energy. And Mike taught me a lot about marketing. And I got to see for the first time really the macro of what happens in the solar industry. And I give this advice to everyone, you know, when I was told, coming out of MBA, don't go to a startup go to a big company, there was really good fun. And then Nevertheless, I went to a startup and I was compelled to go to the startup I just like, full of piss and vinegar at that age and you don't know what you don't know. And you you hear advice, but you don't really heat it. And the reason was there there are fundamental like factual advantages to go into a McKinsey or a Procter and Gamble from a training perspective and from something I learned later in life from a pattern recognition perspective, because you just see more deals more velocity of deals, more deals of scale and scope than you do as a startup right and I should have gone should have coulda woulda My advice to everyone is go work for a utility you want understand how the power industry works? Go suffer a utility for three, four or five years. Andy Tang wouldn't let me publish the specific segment where he said that he had very specifically planned his exit from pg&e when he went at pg&e but that episode that I did with Andy at Ward Zilla go is exact Actually, the fundamental reason why and listen as well to Emily Wang ermine from lightsource. BP, they both said the reason I went to BP to pg&e was because it was one of the leading investors in grid edge technology and clean technology and solar. And I wanted to understand how the utility sees the power industry and how it works. And from there, be able to go and like bring esoteric market products to clean energy companies like now or Tila, which Andy was acquired into that company. So working at Trina allowed me to see that macro view Finally, after four and a half, five years after my MBA and the rest of my careers is a is a testament to the value of getting that work at a big company like you did at continental where you get to see so many different opportunities flow through and how the how the market responds to them. I went on to Conner GE, which may be may not be a household name now, but in the arts and early teens, it was very much a household name current she was one of the largest solar panel manufacturers out of Germany. And they became one of the largest sort of everything manufacturers and that that ultimately their downfall because they kept all that debt on their balance sheet instead of pushing it down to the hold goes could go all into cell worked at the actually worked at the fund at the private equity fund that acquired all the kanji kanji assets company called kala capital down in Miami when I was living there. And that's when I learned how utilities go project development worked. Unfortunately, back to the pattern recognition. I was working in Latin America, where I saw a couple of deals three, four or five deals a month, not the hundreds of deals a month that my colleagues and peers in the United States were seeing. And, and so it wasn't able to do quite the pattern matching or learn as at an accelerated pace, I would have been better served in my career to be back in the United States. But what ultimately I did was go work for this company. Coming out of college, I had actually started the podcast I'll give you a quick tidbit, my friend Adam James, who was at the time at greentech media was going to be my co host. He was writing a report called the lat am solar report. And I literally the first iteration Episode One I'm pretty sure we refer to it as the Lamb solar report podcast or something like that. Because land was the fastest growing segment in the world for the fast growing region for solar in the world. It was booming like crazy. And I was down opening Latin America for Trina. And so Adam and I did a handful of interviews, I ended up leading that he for reasons that we don't need to get into here but like mainly related to greentech media and his job there. He ended up leaving and going to solar city and did not become a co co host for me. So I went on went alone and just tapped all of the folks that I had met through my my dri and Trina and Congress few days and said, Hey, you're leading a company or a market? Would you tell me your experience. And that led me down the path of basically first being the only podcast who cared about telling people's stories in Latin America, and then get back to that pattern recognition realising that more more listeners, fewer. Listen, we're interested in the Latin American story as much as the entrepreneur journey. And I been turned SunCast to be, I'd say the definitive interview based podcast for the solar industry focused on telling the founder and executive perspective on how to grow your company in your career. And I like to say your influence and in clean energy.Tim Montague:
So now we know it's okay to have multiple careers. And actually, young professionals expect to have five plus careers. I think I'm on my seventh career. And I'm an early adopter of that trend, so to speak. But youNico Johnson:
are you were for those who aren't familiar with what he's saying. He Tim was a has had multiple successful careers. But he also was a podcaster. Before I was I'll point that out. He's a 10 year veteran of podcasting.Tim Montague:
Yeah, I can't wait to talk a little bit more about that on your show in the coming weeks. But so let's talk about the solar industry and podcasting some more. When did you make the leap into podcasting full time? And what do you have to say to others who are now dogpiling into podcasting? It's really taking off. Every company wants to have a podcast if they don't have one? Yeah, they should have one. Yeah. And many podcasts start and then stop after just a handful of episodes. So what is your advice about how to create a show and how to create some staying power in podcasting?Nico Johnson:
There's a couple of things to unpack there. Your right, pod vaiting Is your Hill most people. So Tim Ferriss actually gave great advice on this several years ago. He says if you're going to do it, commit to at least 10 episodes, and then if it doesn't feel right, if it doesn't feel like it's going in the right direction, find a new trajectory. Find a new medium podcast. Some folks miss the reality that podcast is a megaphone. It is simply a marketing channel. It's a marketing medium. Which is why of the millions of podcasts out there right now. There are very distinct flavours, comedy and sci fi. There's narrative storytelling, there's journalism. There's a lot of branded podcasts, corporations. I think clear trace is a great example of doing it really well recently, and Hannon Armstrong has done it really well with climate positive corporations who want to get their story told and the story of their customers. Podcast is a unique way to do that, because you engage in folks spare time, in a way that doesn't take them away from whatever they can be focused on. In my case, I listen to podcasts while I'm running, while I'm cleaning the yard while I'm washing dishes late at night. I love to listen to podcasts and any of my listeners in yours Listen, while I'm driving if I'm going somewhere. For me, I've got three children. So I love to put my noise blocking headphones in while they're listening to a story on the car. And I'm listening to a podcast on the drive down to see grande folks. So podcasting is an incredibly powerful medium because someone is going to give you relatively undivided attention for between 15 and 75 minutes of their life. And it is literally straight into their ear canals direct connectionTim Montague:
for three hours in the case of Joe Rogan's show orNico Johnson:
I can't I can't get into the three hour ones. I'm a big fan of of some of those podcasts. And Tim, Tim Ferriss has done some long ones I've done hell I've done some long ones, my Reagan far episode was three hours the episode with the trade winds, guys from Savvy yawns three hours, I've done some long ones, in the end, they're worth getting into. But the podcast medium lends itself to to things that other mediums don't which is vulnerability, you're there long enough that people are going to open up. Right, and, and by a back and forth nature that really feels comfortable and inviting. So there's the vulnerability on the guest side to tell their story. And then there's the inviting nature of the medium where as a listener, unlike watching television or reading an article, you really can feel like you're there, you can feel, as I always said in the beginning, my goal was that you would has a listener, a budget, you would imagine that you're sitting on a barstool beside me and the guest. And if one of your friends came up to you at an SPI, and you're eavesdropping on our conversation, and said, Hey, let's go to the to the Q sells party, you'd be like, I'll meet you there, I'm gonna stay glued in to this conversation that I might miss if I left, that, that is the epitome of what I think is the value of of the kinds of conversations that we create. Tim, you and I in this medium, because it really does give someone the perspective as though they're there. And you don't get that through YouTube, you don't get that through an article. In my opinion, you only get that through the medium of podcast. And the reason is that while storytelling is easily done in the form of written text, a book and blog, and certainly easily done in short and long form video. It's a crucial part of how we enrol people in our journey. And when you can hear someone talk about it, it makes, it makes a big difference especially, there's just something about the ethereal nature of the of the audio in your ears. That is different from watching it on the screen watching in the screen, it's very clearly to your brain. It's very obvious that you're not there, listening in your ears, it you your brain can be tricked into believing you're actually in a conversation with someone. And I have so many people I'm sure you do as well come up to me and they're like, I feel like I know you. And I've had guests come up and say that people have randomly walked up to them at conferences, trade shows and men like I feel like I know you this thing that you did on SunCast like I learned so much about your company and about you and I love the story you told about your grandma and that's the magic of podcasts that you just don't get through YouTube and other venues that unless it's very very, very intentional and crafted.Tim Montague:
The Clean Power Hour is brought to you by CPS America. The maker of North America's number one three phase string inverter with over six gigawatts shipped in the US. The CPS America product lineup includes three phase string inverters ranging from 25 to 275 kW, their flagship inverter, the CPS 252 75, is designed to work with solar plants ranging from two megawatts to two gigawatts, the 250 to 75 pairs well, with CPS America's exceptional data communication controls and energy storage solutions. Go to chin power systems.com To find out more. Yeah, well, well said well said. And I would echo Tim Ferriss comment about 10 episodes, just commit and then see where the chips fall and you also have to pretty much throw away the keys. In terms of statistics and expectations for impact. It will take time to get traction.Nico Johnson:
That's a great So, Tim, at what point did you feel like you were getting what you might call traction? How many episodes in you Boy,Tim Montague:
it's it's it's like, there are these plateaus. And and, and so it's it's it's a steep climb, certainly no more than a couple of years ago when I kind of felt like, Okay, this is this is starting to get easier for me the real signal was it was getting easier to get guests. Yeah. And I you said I have toNico Johnson:
that's like tomorrow 100 100 episodes? Yeah, I know. I mean, there's like a period where you're producing for tomorrow's episode, right? Because you've committed, there's two things that need to happen. One, like you said, Throw away the idea that you're going to get metrics immediately to commit to a consistent schedule, our mutual friend, the Podcast Answer, man, Cliff Ravenscraft, was first a person I heard say this, he says, When you commit to a schedule, listeners commit to showing up. And that's what this is about the relationship you're developing with listeners who are going to show up time and time again, to hear what you and your guests have to say. And if you're thinking about a branded podcast for your company, I hear people say, they make the cardinal sin, oh, we're going to do one a month? And my answer is, why even start, if you're only going to do one a month, because it's going to be forgotten, like, like the last blog post, and everything else, right, like, you need for podcast. Cadence is super important. And I recommend to folks not less than twice a month, and you have to commit to doing it. Like in our in this case, if you're gonna do twice a month, and you're gonna do 12 episodes, that's six months that you're committing to, there's a budget required, there's guests required. And yes, you may very likely in that 12 episodes, certainly in the first 50 to 100, you're probably going to be producing some stuff that feels like near real time, like tomorrow, I committed to publish this thing. So we had to get this thing done today. And like you have I've begged, borrowed and steeled guests, I've had to I've had to make promises, I've had to just have gotten done live interviews, I've had to figure shit out to get to get content. But that is one of the things I wanted to talk to you about. The storytelling, like everything else is a muscle that has to be built in, you have to build systems around it, just like your workout schedule. But you have to push yourself to tear that muscle to build it stronger. Right, and you will in this or writing or video, you will get to the point where it hurts. And that is the test of whether or not it's actually important or nice to have. And knowing that you've decided this broadcast method, this channel of marketing is one I've chosen I'm going to lean into and commit to I'm gonna put a budget towards makes all the difference. If it's just a hobby and you've got like two or three people playing around with it in your company, it will not succeed, it won't get an audience it probably won't yield fruit. So you do like Tim and I go pro or hire, hire folks like us to help you do it.Tim Montague:
So let's talk about the IRA because we have limited time. And this is a real watermark for climate action in the United States and globally. We were clearly not on track to meet our obligations to the Paris accord, for example, before the IRA, it is still TBD if humanity can step back from the brink of climate chaos that is very clear, and and present. And it is one of numerous dangers that humanity is faced with. And I do talk about this occasionally on my show, but what do you think are just three really important aspects of the IRA?Nico Johnson:
Yeah, I think that there? Well, first of all, for those who are unfamiliar, the inflation Reduction Act is the most significant climate legislation in history, certainly in our lifetimes. The IEA in their renewables 2020 report, forecasts global renewable power capacity to grow to 2.4 gigawatts or two or 2.4 terawatts 2400 gigawatts in the next four years through 2027. With cumulative solar, nearly tripling to 2350 by the year 2027. That's gigawatts and hydropower, natural gas and coal will all be surpassed by solar in that timeframe to become the largest installed electric capacity worldwide. The infrastructure Act which became the inflation Reduction Act is going to superpower it when we had our Media Zone interviews back at our a plus. One of the guests and he said it was throw it was like throwing gasoline on a bonfire bonfire. Because the US solar industry in the utility side was only hamstrung by some trade issues, right the ability to get enough equipment on site to build these plants. There's a huge backlog. And now we're making it an incredible, industry changing event in terms of incentive. Would Mack has had a really great episode with their lead analyst for the US and edpr. At the beginning of the year where we talked about their US solar industry and SEC report in 2023. Alone, they're predicting an 84% increase in utility scale installation 17% increase in commercial solar an area that you and I both very feel very strongly about resi continues to grow strong with a half a gigawatt a quarter. And the bill most importantly, and this will be my point number one of what the bill does, fundamentally that we need to pay attention to, it calls for a 10 year extension of the 30% tax credit, or the EITC, which, you know, the cost of instal equipment is now tax exempt up to 30%. That falls down to 26% in 10 years from now 2033 and 22% 2034. But that gives us a 10 year horizon, where we go back to 20 teens levels of growth, which is the most explosive growth we've seen in the solar industry. We we also have some very, very exciting incentives around building workforce, domestic manufacturing, and, and more importantly, standalone energy storage. So one of the things that we talked about in our podcasters quarterly roundtable a lot with Mike Casey and our other podcast friends is the fact that we are all excited about solar. But energy storage is the fastest growing sector right now. And we really won't get to 80, let alone 100% renewable power on the grid until we can provide firm power and no longer need coal plants or nuclear plants or natural gas plants to provide that spin spinning reserve that capacity and power on the grid. So I'm most excited about the fact that we can now see significant incentives for energy storage as a standalone asset. One of the things that we also you and I is this sort of very important point is the IRA offers increased credits amounts to developers who pay a prevailing wage and use a certain percentage of registered apprentices. long has it been thought that sort of these these field labour jobs were in were sort of disposable assets and that they're blue collar work but you and I know many people in this suppose it blue collar work that are making significant six figure incomes, and this prevailing wage carve out will ensure that there is a long pipeline of apprentices dedicated to our industry, not being pulled into other industries where they can where there's more easy training and they can more easily wrap their head around a career in H vac or just kind of like just commercial electrical or something else. Right. Super excited about apprenticeships, but that is an area. That is a huge area of need. Tim we can talk about it and unpack that if you want. ButTim Montague:
yeah, we'd like to talk about labour. You know, it's great that that we have an administration in Washington that is pro labour. And we need a million new electricians in the United States to modernise the grid and do this massive build out of renewable energy infrastructure batteries, and then electrifying everything, electrifying. You know, HVAC, we're installing a lot of heat pumps and geothermal systems etc, etc. So what in particular, though, you know, or what else about apprenticeships and traineeships? Are you interested in or excited about it's it's a double edged there are many challenges. I like to say that human labour is a major limiting factor in the clean energy transition. It's not just solar panels, which historically have not been made in the United States but which are now going to be made in the United States.Nico Johnson:
domestic manufacturing so we'll talk about domestic manufacturing in a second on apprenticeships, just so that folks are who are maybe unclear, get clarity around the apprenticeships piece to meet the apprenticeship requirements taxpayers ensure and taxpayers in this case with the developers that are building these projects ensure that the construction begins, they get a 10% Labour increase. If it started before January of this year, they if it starts before December or January 1 of next year, these numbers the reverse of it steps to if sorry, if construction begins after December 31 2022. Before 2024, it's a 12 and perhaps 12 and a half percent step up. And it bumps up again to 15% for construction and begins after December 31 2023. That's amazing, up to 15% incentive for apprentices. But the big question is, where the hell where all these people come from? Because we don't have apprenticeship pipeline. And guess what that tells me. We've got a recruitment problem, Tim, and a bet the number one thing on your podcast that you hear time and time again, the same as I do is that we have a war for talent right now. And so we have a war for two talent not only at the executive level at these companies, but now out in the field because we do need some sort of valid, valid, valid and verified apprenticeship programmes. So companies like solar and international and arena and Erec Irek are working hard on that sia and and the affiliates are working hard on that American clean power. They're thinking through how this works. But what we don't have is a credible pathway for media outlets to serve as recruitment partners, right. So like you and me, and Canary media, and and many others, can be a mouthpiece that tells all those folks, hey, there's an opportunity over here. And that comes back to kind of what we've done for the last seven years and what you've done for the last 10 years, which is creating compelling content that can be parsed into smaller bite sized media and put into YouTube and Instagram shorts and reels and can be reused in email campaigns and top of funnel video, sort of hero videos on websites and blog posts and repurposing all that content to attract as many people as possible to this industry. Because the thing that won't happen if we don't do that is the number of people we need as apprentices come into the industry where so that we can actually harvest the capital that set aside the IRA for all those apprenticeships, I mean, an extra 15% is a whopping amount of money for the project owner see better believe they are incentivized? How do we channel that money back to creating to creating these education pathways? That's a big question for us.Tim Montague:
Yeah, the other thing that is really on my mind about the IRA legislation is, you know, energy communities, we have lots of coal plants that are being shut down and transitioned to wind, battery storage, and coal mining territories. You look at these, these energy community maps, and there are huge swaths of the Midwest and the West, and the Southeast, that qualify as energy communities and, and when you stack all these things, the apprenticeships, the Made in America provisions, et cetera, et cetera, you can get I think, 60% ITC on a project now. And if you're a naysayer about incentives, please remember all infrastructure needs these types of incentives. That's right. The roads you drive on the schools, your kids go to the hospitals here family goes to That's right. They're all subsidised by taxpayer money on and it's appropriate. That is what good government is about, is social infrastructure, doing stuff that private companies considered too risky to do on their own, we don't have a highway system, because the private companies Yes, that's right. They get the benefit. They got the jobs, those contractors, those private company contractors, reap the benefits, but it's the government that's really the, the engine. So we only have a couple of minutes left Nico, we better talk a little bit about the future of SunCast. Because you're up to some big things. And this is this pertains to your ambitions to to lighten the load on industry, when it comes to bringing new professionals into the industry and speeding their way to being clean energy professionals. So what is the future of SunCast?Nico Johnson:
Yes, I like to say there are three ways to invest in clean energy, time, treasure and talent. A lot of folks, time and talent tend to go together and treasure as a third. I've spent a lot of my time on time and, and talent, personal and development. I'll talk about treasure really quickly. There's sort of this concept of climate tech right now. And so investment in climate tech is really big. And you can invest, we've interviewed a number of folks that have created platforms like energy and climatized and finite IO and raise green. We've got an episode this week with Franz and his team. There are syndicates like my climate journey and our own climate Avenger syndicate that allow allow retail investors to invest and still yet there are index funds. So there's lots of ways to, to now take that your treasure as a retail investor and funnel it into actual climate action and many ways into solar in the case of energy and a few others. But what's hard, and what we've built this, our resource labs community around is actually curating learning pathways and content discovery for folks that are trying to figure out where they fit in this whole thing, either as a business owner, founder, or as someone who perhaps is in another segment, maybe altogether, like sports entertainment, and they want to get into clean energy. How do they find a clean power hour or SunCast? And how do they find the content they need? How did they learn as quickly as possible what they want? So we created resource labs as sort of a skunkworks last steer and then we're expanding it out. We're actually going to launch the website here at the end of April, alongside our first knot SunCast Podcast in a podcast network called Resource labs called Climate Avengers. I mentioned briefly climate Avengers as a as an investment syndicate. But the podcast stands sort of stands as a way for folks to learn what does it look like to put money into this industry? Who are the entrepreneurs that are receiving that investment? Who are the investors who are allocating that capital? And how can I play a part in that and learn how to sort of capture some of that capital? That's climate Avengers that launches the first week of May. And we're looking at other verticals like green hydrogen, which is highly incentivized in the IRA, residential and community solar, the electrified home, all those are standalone products as I look at his podcasts, but more importantly, as a network, we want to curate, and, and create content discovery. For folks who are trying to figure out what should I listen to, there's not a place like, there's just not a place like iTunes for clean energy, that you can say, well, what are the top podcasts? How do I find more like SunCast and Clean Power Hour? So we're curating that, that database, if you will, and creating micro content and customised learning pathways, I guess the last thing I'll mention, there, you thank you for pointing out that, you know, we have been sort of cultivating a community where put folks can get coaching, we call that mission minded. And that's more tailored coaching around around career pathways, and helping folks find find out how to mould their transferrable skills from whatever job mainly oil and gas into renewables. And then I've partnered with a guy named Karen baronne, on on a website that he created a couple of years ago, and they were building out more in depth called solar academy.com. More to come on that we're actually going to talk about it in the last episode of April, depending on when this publishes for you. We'll talk about it on Suncast last episode of April, and, and be a lot more public about all of the ways that sort of what I've learned from Suncast over the last seven years is how to tell compelling stories, how to help connect the dots for folks. And and we wanted to build this resource under resource labs that creates alchemy for folks like you and I, to coach others. And for us to lean in to building tools that help connect the disparate resources, the talent, and the time, and the treasure for building out our clean energy future.Tim Montague:
Very good. Very good. Well, I look forward to seeing both of those additional platforms flourish. And we will put those links in the show notes this episode is going to drop in early May I think. So. You will have you will have dropped that episode, I think. Yeah. Excellent. So go to my suncast.com. And otherwise, though, Nico, how can our listeners find you?Nico Johnson:
Yeah, man, the way that I often find you, we're both on LinkedIn, LinkedIn junkies, I love communicating with folks. And you can easily find me on LinkedIn, I'm sure Tim will share my LinkedIn, direct link. But if you search Nico Johnson or SunCast, on LinkedIn, I'll come up if you search hashtag solar warrior, I'll come up. And I do want to just drop in resource labs.co is the website that that will house kind of all of those conversations. Moving forward. We've got a bunch of other sort of URLs like my son gas.com, which houses are almost 600. Now episodes of the pod, we will publish Episode 600, like may 18, I think which is pretty fun. I'm being interviewed on my own podcast again, but I really just want to leave folks with the I always say the number one tool that we have to fight climate change is our voice. Use it. Start your own podcast. Come on our podcast. Let us help you tell your story. But at the very least, use your voice and tell your story because that is how we enrol and recruit more people in our collective vision which is to accelerate clean energy, right?Tim Montague:
Amen, brother. Well, please check out all of our content at clean power hour.com Give us a rating and a review on Apple and Spotify. That is the best thing you can do to help others find the show. And of course, tell a friend about the Clean Power Hour. We love hearing from you our listeners, and getting ideas for future guests and topics to cover here on the show. And I want to thank my friend and colleague Nico Johnson, the Chief Content Officer at SunCast Media for coming on the show today. Thank you so much, Nico.Nico Johnson:
My pleasure. Happy to do it.Tim Montague:
I'm Tim Montague. Let's grow solar and storage