GreenBiz recently brought VERGE 2019 to the Oakland Convention Center.   With its focus on sustainability, this event, a platform for companies and communities accelerating the clean economy, walks the path to our shared future.  I took in the expo on Wed afternoon, October 23, and came home encouraged.  The vendors were awesome, both inspirational and open to conversations.

What struck me most was the optimism.  It's not a huge conference, but an optimistic one.  By fortunate accident, my podcast player served up A16z Podcast: The Environment, Capitalism, Technology on the drive to Oakland.  According to Andrew McAfee, we can (and do)  get More From Less through open markets.  

That set me up perfectly to appreciate what I was about to see and hear.  It's possible for us to put our entrepreneurial, solution-focused energy to work to save the planet from ourselves.

First, we don't need to depend on an aging electrical grid infrastructure powered by coal.  We now have many choices for decentralized power generation.  

  • DD Danner - Solar has been around long enough that costs have come way down and it's widely used as a clean source of renewable energy. Danner shows us that mobile power stations can be used to provide supplemental power for work sites, both planned and unplanned.
  • Paulin - Inventor Daniel Paulin flew in from Hawaii to show his new silent wind turbine, suitable for both residential and commercial applications.
  • Bloomenergy - For those tough spots with limited access to sun and wind, Bloom Energy delivers fuel cells that convert fuel to electricity without combustion.
  • BC Biocarbon - And for a mind blowing alternative, Phil Marsh of BC Biocarbon took me through the benefits of bio-refining. Plant waste products are processed with carbonization temperatures of 500 - 800 C . Enough power is generated for 100 homes. From a variety of final products, one can use the biochar to rejuvenate the soil. Watch the video here.
  • Microgrid - VERGE events include a 100% renewably powered microgrid to offset their energy use and showcase the technology.

Second, a number of organizations are working to reduce greenhouse gases by creating and delivering innovative market incentives for sequestering carbon.  

  • American Forests - Plants trees in urban and rural forest restoration projects on public lands.
  • American Forest Foundation - Works with private owners to conserve and manage their forests.
  • Pachama - Verifies carbon offsets with machine learning visualization of satellite images.
  • Nori - Sells verified carbon removal to consumers and publishes record on a searchable public blockchain.
  • Soil Value Exchange - Pays ranchers and farmers to restore soil health on grazing lands, matching landowners to buyers of carbon storage.
  • Cool Effect - Custom develops novel carbon reduction projects worldwide.

Third, many more organizations were there to show their efforts to reduce power use by each enterprise, with many solutions focused on the data center.  

  • VMware Blockchain - Virtual machine pioneer offers an energy-efficient enterprise-grade decentralized trust platform.
  • QTS Green - Giant data center builder / manager commits to corporate responsibility through Environmental, Social and Governance initiatives.
  • LiquidCool Solutions - Minnesota-based innovator immerses processor boards in special liquid and brings peace and quiet to the data center. Eliminating fans reduces power to cool by 98% over air cooling.
  • Electriphi - Electric fleet management company keeps the trucks charged and ready to go.

There was certainly much more to see and hear at the conference.  Next year, I will carve out more time to hear the speakers.