AMHERST, Mass. - Two keynote addresses, one by an expert in business cluster development, the other by a national wind energy development scientist, will highlight the fourth annual University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Clean Energy Connections Conference and Opportunity Fair.
The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. General registration and special group discount information is available at www.umass.edu/green/conference.
Jim Robbins of Silicon Valley, Calif., is a consultant and national expert on business cluster and incubator development. His talk, "Creating Cleantech Regional Innovation Clusters," will outline successes around the nation that are relevant to western Massachusetts and New England, where the U.S. Economic Development Administration invested $1.25 million to create a regional innovation cluster for cleantech through the i6 Challenge.
Wind energy expert Walt Musial is a UMass Amherst alumnus and senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., where he leads offshore wind energy research. He plans to look back at the history of the wind energy industry, in particular how UMass Amherst has influenced its development. Musial, who recently won the campus alumni association’s first Alumni Clean Energy Award, will also discuss the future of wind energy development in the next decade and beyond.
Another highlight of this year’s conference and opportunity fair will be a blue-ribbon panel of elected officials checking in on policy at the state level focused on a "Green Massachusetts" agenda. Organizers note that the Green Communities Act of 2008 put the Commonwealth on the map nationally for emphasizing energy efficiency and accelerating the clean energy economy. Panelists will reflect on progress and challenges of the past four years.
Concurrent sessions throughout the day will include:
• A View from the Summits: The Confluence of Clean Energy Economic and Workforce Development
• When Communities Take the Lead: Green Computing, Solar, Wind
• Growing Sustainable Communities
• Ramping It Up: From Marketing to Partnerships
• Big Time Conservation
This year’s Opportunity Fair is expected to attract more than 60 employers, retailers and service providers representing clean energy businesses. It will also offer sessions by New England Women in Energy & the Environment and the Massachusetts chapter of the U.S. Green Building Consortium.
New at this year’s conference will be a poster session on current studies by faculty and graduate students in geothermal energy, offshore wind, building efficiency, climate science, biofuels, urban design, polymers and materials science and more at UMass Amherst, the region’s powerhouse of clean energy research. These will give participants a glimpse into where clean energy technology is headed in the future.
Conference sponsors include WGBY, Western Massachusetts Electric, the UMass Amherst Alumni Association, the Mass Mutual Center, Peoples Bank, Holyoke Gas & Electric, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Springfield Technical Community College, the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts, Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, NerdWallet, ICT Center and more than a dozen non-profits.