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What Is The Future Of Energy In Cleveland?



During each Golden Hour event, Greyt Culture hosts +TechTalk conversations, intimate podcast recordings filmed on stage as guests bustle into the gorgeous landscape of sunset over Lake Erie.


The goal for each +TechTalk is to better understand the latest technologies, systems, and resources under development in our community with the hope it will shape a better future for all of us.


On June 23rd, Brite Energy’s Randy Cole will Moderate a conversation on “Micro-Grids and the Future of Energy” with Mike Foley the Director of Cuyahoga County's Department of Sustainability and Tony Frisone, CEO of Czar power.





How Cleveland's Industrial Legacy Informs Our Future


From its storied contributions to the Industrial Revolution in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when it shone brightly as a city of steel, automotive, and energy production, to its significant challenges during the 1970-90s when manufacturing shifted overseas and automation took hold, Cleveland has had a unique journey.


Today, Cleveland is home to some of the nation's oldest and most respected universities and hospitals. We have earned a strong global reputation in biomedical research, advanced manufacturing, and financial services. We have built an enduring ecosystem from the rubble of industrial fallout - something I am extremely proud of and talk about often with my friends and colleagues overseas.


Now we have to ask a question more suitable for the times: How can Cleveland - whose legacy is rooted in oil and rubber and steel - contribute to the global transition towards clean energy?


The question feels paradoxical, but then again, it could serve as the perfect backdrop.

Cleveland's Clean Energy Shift

Over the past decade, the city has turned its attention towards clean energy, notably solar energy and electric vehicles (EV). I first realized this around 2017, when one of my closest friends started selling residential and commercial solar at YellowLite, a Cleveland solar company. I didn't think much of it at this point in time.


Then, in 2019, I met Scott Colosimo at a local startup mixer. Scott is the co-founder and CEO of Land Energy (LAND MOTO), a Cleveland company that designs and manufactures eMotos - electric bikes that can be used as a bike, moped or motorcycle. Land also designs swappable batteries and software to drive them. This year, they released an app enabling users to connect to their bikes remotely with their Apple devices, which includes anti-theft features and modes that show district riding specifications.


By this point in time I had become extremely curious.


In the summer of 2022, we invited Emily Dickens, Chief Commercial Officer at Octet Scientific, to speak about her company's efforts to commercialize Zinc-Ion batteries during our first +TechTalk ever.


This was the conversation that opened pandoras "clean energy" box - at least for me, anyway.


What Will Cleveland's Role In Clean Energy Be?

This year, Greyt Culture is excited to partner with Brite Energy Innovators (Brite) to mesh the creative and professional audience who attend Golden Hour with the founder-focused audience who want to hear from local startups and experts during +TechTalk.

I met with our speakers for this Friday's discussion to get some context on the topic and try to understand what questions the ecosystem still needs to answer.


Mike Foley, Director of Cuyahoga County's Department of Sustainability, told me about the Cuyahoga County Climate Change Action Plan. Foley plans to delve into the Plan's various initiatives, objectives, and efforts this Friday. He also intends to shed light on some of the unique challenges the county encounters during implementation.


One of the key components of Cleveland clean energy transition is the development of EVs. In order to support the growth of the EV market, Cleveland has to invest in infrastructure to support them. This includes installing charging stations throughout the city and building a sustainable microgrid.


Envisioning the future of mobility in Cleveland, Randy Cole, Expert-in-Residence at Brite, added:

We are fortunate that NOACA, our Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the Greater Cleveland RTA both embrace innovation in mobility. Pilots, public-private partnerships, and ongoing investments will make Greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio (NEO) models for other parts of the country

Cole's comment underlines the importance of fostering collaboration and Cleveland's emergent role as a formidable contender in the clean energy discussion.


Switching to clean energy isn't just a good idea, it's a planned move by local government, schools, and businesses. Startups and groups like Brite are creating a great environment for clean energy businesses to thrive, giving money to green projects and funding research.

Just last month, Brite Energy Innovators and Centrepolis Accelerator were recognized by Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator with an award for their work in clean tech. Brite plans to use the $220,000 award to grow a new program in Ohio and Michignan aimed at helping underrepresented clean tech startups speed up the commercialization process.

There's a lot of potential for clean energy in Cleveland, but there's still plenty we don't know. What's it going to take to make our region a major national player in clean energy?

For answers, join us Friday for the first +TechTalk of the season at Electric Gardens in Tremont. Brite Energy’s Randy Cole will be moderating a conversation on “Micro-Grids and the Future of Energy” with Mike Foley the Director of Cuyahoga County's Department of Sustainability and Tony Frisone, CEO of Czar power.



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