Energy Fair announces keynote speakers

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-114608616429214.jpg’, ”, ‘James Croce, President of NextEnergy of Michigan’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11460862275188.jpg’, ”, ‘Paul Fenn, Founder & Director of Local Power and publisher of American Local Power News‘);

Keynote speakers for this year’s Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair Aug. 12-3 will be Bernd Steinmuller from Germany, Paul Fenn from San Francisco and Jim Croce from Michigan.

Two of the presentations focus on technological innovations to dramatically reduce energy consumption while the third focuses on a new marketing model to accelerate a community’s effort to establish sustainable energy practices. All three sessions provide possible pathways to a cleaner, brighter energy future.

Steinmuller’s presentation will address European energy policies with special emphasis on renewable energy and efficiency in Germany. Since housing consumes significant energy, he will discuss strategies for saving energy in both new and retrofitted housing and their applicability to North America.

Germany is a global leader in wind generator and solar electric installations, renewable fuels and the passivehaus movement. Their wind farm programs were designed to directly benefit farmers with incentives to encourage investment in wind generators. Germany also stimulated solar electric installations on home roofs by paying a substantial subsidy for 20 years beginning with $0.69 per kilowatt hour. Since the program was initiated, the price paid drops each year so that 10 years from now, when solar electricity is expected to be competitive, subsidies will no longer be required. The home owner neither purchases a solar installation nor has the burden of owning a system, but rents out the roof and is credited with its output.

Fenn will present the case for implementing a new business model to accelerate the rate at which efficiency and renewable energy are incorporated into a city. California has been a national driving force for environmental and energy reforms since the issues drew national attention during the 1960s and 1970s. They remain in the forefront with efforts to limit carbon emissions from cars, fund solar energy programs and stimulate local power production.

Croce is in charge of an energy research center in Detroit that stimulates new energy technologies by providing a demonstration site and bringing together researchers, inventors and funding sources. They plan to create a new economy for the state that has been devastated by dramatic job losses in its automotive industry. The center cooperates with numerous companies and interests. One of those companies, Energy Conversion Devices, recently made headlines with a visit from President Bush, a secondary stock offer providing funds to build 300 MW of PV capacity and contracts to supply its nickel metal hydride batteries for Saturn’s new hybrid electric vehicle.

All three speakers are connected to globally significant programs advocating efficiency and renewable energy whose trend-setting efforts will provide food for thought regarding Illinois’ possible energy future. Their presentations will stretch our imaginations and provide another perspective about what is occurring in the name of efficiency and renewable energy.

Plan to attend the Fifth Annual Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair Aug. 12-13 at the Ogle County Fairgrounds. Future columns will highlight additional presentations. The Fair’s development can be followed on the Illinois Renewable Energy Association Web site at

From the April 26-May 2, 2006, issue

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