EPIC Energy Seminar: Panel Discussion on Utility Scale Solar from a Developer's Perspective

April 16, 2019 - 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM

During the Fall and Spring semesters, EPIC presents the Energy Seminar Series with speakers from around the region. These experts share valuable information and their insight into trends and news that is related to energy. Seminars are FREE and are open to students, faculty, and the public. Pizza is included so please register to attend.


North Carolina is a leader in solar energy and ranks second in the U.S. in installed capacity only behind California. The state has approximately 4,412 MW of installed solar capacity with a total investment of $6.5 billion.  In the last decade, solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 59% nationwide. As the solar industry continues to grow and prices keep dropping, projections for North Carolina show that 4,577 MW of additional capacity will be installed within the next 5 years. Though the majority of installed capacity in California is from residential size projects, North Carolina produces most of its solar energy at larger installations, making the state a leader in utility-scale solar. Panelists at this EPIC Seminar will offer their perspective on the solar industry and will discuss all aspects of utility-scale solar projects from siting, designing, permitting, constructing, utility interconnecting, and operating solar facilities and how energy markets and policy play a role in these types of installations.


Ben Vollmer
Development Associate, Strata Solar
Ben joined Strata Solar in 2014. He is responsible for managing a portfolio of utility-scale solar farms from the earliest stages of development up to construction. His current focus is on developing projects in North Carolina and other states in the Southeast. Ben has a B.A. in History from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 

Joel Olsen
CEO, O2 Energies
Joel is the CEO of O2 emc, an Independent Power Producer that develops, owns and operates more than 100MW of solar farms across the Southeast. The company has successfully raised more than $200 million in project financing. Prior to starting O2, he served as the director for Business Development and Government Relations at Sencera, a Charlotte thin film silicon solar module manufacturer. Joel grew up in Charlotte, NC and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in international studies. After graduation he spent several years living overseas. Fluent in Japanese and Norwegian, Joel brings an international perspective and global manufacturing relationships to O2 emc. In addition to his work at O2 emc, Joel serves on the executive committee of the North Carolina Clean Energy Business Alliance, and on the board of Sustain Charlotte. Joel is a recipient of the Charlotte Business Journal Energy Leadership Award, and the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association Business Innovation Award. 

Luke Rogers
Director of Business Development, Birdseye Renewable Energy
Luke Rogers was raised on a cotton farm near Bennettsville, South Carolina, and graduated with a BS in Chemistry from Furman University. After graduation, he pursued his interest in solar energy and gained hands-on experience installing solar panels on rooftops across South Carolina. Before joining Birdseye, he worked for private equity and consulting firm, FundaciĆ³n Chile, in Santiago, Chile. He has been with Birdseye for 5 years as a project developer and recently moved into a business development role. 


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