Happy Black History Month! Black Innovators in Clean Energy
Alex "Solar Girl" Steele
Every February, the United States observes Black History Month. This is a time for us to emphasize the way that Black American’s contributions have improved our world, acknowledge the impacts of the African diaspora and the struggle that African Americans have endured to fight for civil rights and liberties. Different industries in our economy are taking this month to raise awareness about how Black leaders have positively influenced the work we do every day, and we wanted to do the same with renewables. Today we will discuss some of the most notable Black Americans who have left a mark on the clean energy world, especially those affiliated with solar.
Matthew N. Portis
Matthew Portis is paving the way for making solar technology into an even more useful resource than it already is! His company, SolGreen, has developed the first solar workstation. Built like an outdoor table with an umbrella, this workstation table provides light and WiFi, can charge phones and laptops, and shade people from the sun. It is also wheelchair accessible and has a UV light disinfection system to remain sanitary. Hailing from Maryland, Mr. Portis founded SolGreen in 2009, and invented the Evodia Solar Workstation in 2012. This workstation is off-grid and allows people to enjoy their work outside. It is popular with schools, workplaces, parks, and campuses!
Jason Carney stands out for making history as the first African American in the state of Tennessee to earn a NABCEP Certification. NABCEP is the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification, which shows that someone has advanced knowledge of solar technology. He works for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, driving innovations in energy efficiency for the homeowners of the south eastern United States. He started a solar program at a low-income school in Nashville, giving students a unique opportunity to learn more about the science of the renewable energy source.
Operating out of Washington D.C is Gilbert Campbell, the CEO of Volt Energy. Volt specializes in solar PPA’s, and is active in 10 different cities across the country. Mr. Campbell’s company also offers solar system design, engineering, and construction. He also participates in a number of organizations and agencies, such as U.S Department of Energy, The American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), and the Center for Energy Research and Technology at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
WDC Solar, Inc. was founded in 2009 by Mark Davis, a former NBA player. Mr. Davis’ main goal with WDC Solar is to provide renewable energy to low-income families, bridging the gap for environmental equity in the U.S. Collaborating with the District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Committee, WDC Solar donates free solar energy systems to households who meet low-income criteria in their city. They also provide solar to churches, schools, and government facilities.
This month is a key time for us to think about how Black leaders have shaped our communities, but we encourage you to make celebrating African American achievements a regular part of your reading and learning. Black innovation has made a difference in every area of our lives. From all of us at Solar Wolf to you, we hope you learn a lot this February!