On November 1st, 2023, CLEANcarolinas marked a landmark with its first workshop at the Making Energy Work conference in Raleigh, NC sponsored by the NC Sustainable Energy Association. The pre-conference event, "CLEANcarolinas: A Vision for Clean Energy Innovations to Drive Regional Economic Development in the Carolinas," was motivated by the concerted efforts propelling the region towards a clean energy future. The University of North Carolina Charlotte-led initiative, alongside partners across the Carolinas, showcased the commitment to develop the regional clean energy resource basin for the economic benefit of citizens in North and South Carolina. Dr. Michael Mazzola and Carolyn Keith opened the conference with remarks that underscored the potential of CLEANcarolinas to evolve into a nascent regional innovation engine with the right partnerships and support.
The workshop included engaging panel discussions moderated by Stephen Kalland, Executive Director of the NC Clean Energy Technology Center, that fostered the conversation around economic and workforce development within the clean energy sector. The first panel brought together Robert Elliot from Trident Technical College, Catherine Hayes from South Carolina Research Authority, Schumata Brown from Maysville, NC, Elizabeth Bennett from TotalEnergies, and Dr. Robert Cox from the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC). The second panel also included Catherine Hayes and featured insights from Steven Whisenant from Duke Energy, Dr. Curtiss Fox from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Dr. Saffeer Khan from EPIC, and Dr. John Hardin from the NC Department of Commerce. Their collective expertise provided a comprehensive look into the workforce and economic impacts, as well as the technological innovation necessary for CLEANcarolinas to maximize the clean energy resources of the region.
Dr. Alan Cohen, a NSF INNOVATIONS ENGINES program director, spoke about the National Science Foundation's TIP Directorate and the flagship Regional Innovation Engines program. As CLEANcarolinas gears up for future events, the continued collaboration and community engagement initiated at this workshop will pave the way for additional dynamic and innovative gatherings in pursuit of regional clean energy development.
In addition to the insightful panels and discussions, CLEANcarolinas continued to participate in the Making Energy Work conference as an exhibitor and silver level sponsor. The team took this opportunity to engage with attendees at the booth, sharing insights and learning from others in a collaborative environment. Their presence at the conference was a humble yet significant contribution towards the collective goal of advancing clean energy in the Carolinas. By offering information and engaging in meaningful dialogues, CLEANcarolinas showcased their appreciation for the platform provided by the conference to connect, learn, and contribute to the region’s clean energy future.