He then went on to lead VCi to expand to over 100 employees in three countries, with revenue in excess of $20 million US annually. The VCi Group of Companies was profitable for each of the 12 years it was under his control before being sold in 2005.
Tom now focuses his efforts on carbon mitigation and is an active in Cleantech venture capital, technology incubation and commercialization and public advocacy. Now he is an author and proselytizer of clean, green energy with his new book Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit.
This is a book filled with unbridled optimism, starting off with “When humankind really wants to do something, our ingenuity, resources and determination are breathtaking!” and then gets positive. North American’s may warm to his style a little more readily than some Europeans but that doesn’t mean it should be dismissed!
Tom managed to take ten technologies that are sometimes hard to explain and makes them comprehensible and almost obvious, with beautiful photography and clear graphics to emphasis the point.
The ten clean technologies included for discussion are:
Solar- with good coverage of both large centralized systems and smaller rooftop installations.
Wind-Macro and micro;
Geothermal– Tom is a big fan of Geo-exchange, or GSHP (ground source heat pumps) and has built a demonstration project in Toronto, a hotel heated and cooled by geo-exchange. He is careful with his language, knowing that everyone uses geothermal interchangeably now, and comes up with the term :hot geothermal for the high temperature heat that he calls “the only meaningful source of renewable energy that is not directly reliant on the sun.” This is a useful distinction.
Biofuels, where he is appropriately dismissive of first generation fuels from corn, and looking to third generation fuels from algae and halophytes.
Hydro Power What’s not to like about hydro? How about relocating millions of people in China and drowning natural wonders. In the end Rand says “these projects are so massive, and displace so much fossil fuel, that its hard to argue, given intelligent management, that there’s no net benefit.” I know a few politicians and hot air machines that would disagree
Oceans: tidal and wave power get good explanations.
Smart Buildings: From the small scale residential to reskinning. His thoughts on building codes are simplistic; he calls it a “no-brainer” and it isn’t. What is the point of making “Passivhaus the standard model of suburban development” when the problem is suburban planning, not the house?
Transportation: Rand covers everything from airships to bicycles, but also gets the key point that “smart urban design is the bedrock of clean transportation.”
Efficiency and Conservation– You know this makes sense.
And finally, the Energy Internet, redesigning our electrical distribution system to create a really smart grid.
Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit is an important book; it puts together a lot of knowledge in one easy to read package, a great gift for your neighbourhood sceptic who doesn’t believe we have any alternative to more tar sands, more offshore drilling, more coal plants.