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Healing Roles that Greentech Can Play in the New Normal

The Country is grappling with the triple whammy of age-old racial injustice, COVID 19, and looming economic recession. Unsurprisingly, low income and people of color are disproportionally disadvantaged in this perfect storm. Meanwhile, the credibility of the very institutions charged with preserving our individual rights and protecting our communities is in question, if not peril. People across the Country are right to protest these injustices and the gaping institutional flaws that has permitted them to continue for so long. At the same time, we have a collective obligation to support overall community healing and pursue enduring, broad-based solutions.

There are many ways that the “Greentech” community might play a constructive role in that process. Consider the following two ideas as examples. These concepts have been raised in the past, but perhaps their time to take root has just arrived:

1) Correctional Facility-Based Photovoltaic (PV) Module Assembly Plants and Installations. Our Country’s prison system is in desperate need of reform. Dramatic improvements are required at each stage of the process: from the basis for incarceration to social re-integration, and everything in between. Today, there are 4,575 Correctional Facilities in the US with a population of 2.2 million inmates. We must strive to drive those figures to zero. That will take time. In the meantime, no time should be wasted in finding ways to improve prison conditions and help existing inmates return to general society as productive, self-sufficient members. Clean tech may provide some help. Consider that - roughly estimated - these facilities consume on the order of 200 Giga-watt hours per year. While PV cell manufacturing generally requires a high level of automation and scale, PV module production can be done at a much smaller scale with varying degrees of automation. While correctional facilities are generally barred from producing goods to compete on the open market, they can produce products for other prisons. Imagine prison-based module production facilities that produce PV modules that can be deployed on prisons to cut energy usage while at the same time training prisoners with a new skill that can help them rejoin society as a productive member in a growing clean-tech industry.

2) House of Worship Resiliency Hubs in Vulnerable Population Areas. There are an estimated 350,000 houses of worship in the US, many of which are located amongst vulnerable populations where they provide essential spiritual and community services. These institutions typically have load characteristics that lend themselves to the cost-saving benefits of Distributed Energy Resources (DER). Imagine if they also have power and provide emergency community services when the grid is down.

These are just a couple of ideas to share, build upon, or get the creative juices flowing throughout the Greentech community. There are many more where those came from, such as: off-grid infrastructure in underserved areas and low-income community DER networks integrated with energy efficiency and resiliency management systems. Beacon-Strong is socializing and cultivating these and other concepts with its partners. We are in the market for other partners, contributors and end-users.

Any comments, suggestions on these or any other ideas along these lines or in the forum page are greatly welcomed and encouraged. If you are a municipality, institution, or business that is looking to brainstorm, launch and/or accelerate a project of this nature, please don’t hesitate reach out to Beacon-Strong Climate Innovations for ways that we might help.

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