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An ACORE Intern's Experience; by Matt Williams, Summer 2011

This summer I had the unique opportunity to participate in the ACORE summer internship program. I came to ACORE to gain experience in the renewable energy industry. I am hoping that this experience, coupled with my IT consulting background, can help me transition to a new career as a consultant in the Renewable Energy sector. The experience at ACORE has been rewarding for several reasons:

Working Alongside Interesting People
The staff here at ACORE is passionate about what they do, and their energy and enthusiasm can be infectious. It has been great to work with seasoned veterans of the renewable energy sector who went out of their way to make sure we interns felt valued. ACOREââ,¬â,,¢s President Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn regularly attends the intern meetings and has often asked us to let him know if there is any way that he could help us get more out of our internship. I think that this kind of commitment from the highest levels of the organization truly makes the internship at ACORE unique.

Meeting the Other Interns
The most fun part of the ACORE internship experience has been working with the other amazingly talented and gifted ACORE interns. The interns this year came from all parts of the U.S.:

Clement D. was originally born in Shanghai, and now studies Economics at Saint Johnââ,¬â,,¢s University in Minnesota. This summer, he was working on the U.S.-China Program (USCP) at ACORE, editing the U.S.-China Quarterly Market Review and the Weekly USCP News Update and coordinating USCP workshops and events. His individual research project is focusing on the renewable energy labor market, specifically on what the U.S. and China can learn from Germany in transitioning its labor force from the conventional energy industry into the renewable energy industry.

Dustin M. is an intern with the Biomass Coordinating Council at ACORE where he works with Bill Holmberg and others to advance and support the development of the bioenergy industry. He is currently a student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where he is working towards his Masters in Environmental Management with a focus on renewable energy economics ââ,¬âEURoe specifically focusing on the comparative benefits of different financing structures for various biofuel and biomass energy developments, both domestically and abroad. Prior to ACORE, he spent two years working on the litigation team at the Natural Resources Defense Council and one year doing tuberculosis vaccine research, both in Washington, DC.

Garrett F. is currently studying at Boston College, and works with Dawn Butcher, Director of Events and Marketing at ACORE. Garrett has worked with Dawn on logistics, marketing and social media for REFF-Wall Street and REFF-West. I worked with Garrett to develop and execute a social media strategy for the REFF Wall Street and REFF West events. Garrett says that he ââ,¬Å"came to ACORE this summer with high hopes of expanding my knowledge on renewable energy, and I was far from disappointed.ââ,¬Â Ã, He will return to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts at the end of August to begin his junior year at Boston College.

Hao S. is currently an undergraduate student at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. He will be a junior in the fall and is majoring in Science, Technology and International Affairs with a concentration in Energy and Environmental Studies and is also pursuing a certificate in East Asian studies. Before coming to D.C., Hao lived in the suburbs of Boston in Lexington, Massachusetts. Although he has lived here in the U.S. for almost 15 years, he still calls Nanjing, China his home and returns there every other summer. Haoââ,¬â,,¢s academic interests are in the nexus of U.S.-China relations, energy security, and renewable energy technology. These interests led him to intern this summer with ACOREââ,¬â,,¢s US-China program. This summer he assisted with the publication of the US-China Weekly News Updates, the USCP Quarterly Market Review, and with setting up a USCP workshop at the RETECH conference.

Peter M. works as a Research intern for ACOREââ,¬â,,¢s policy team and focused his time between learning about financial strategies and policies for renewables, and helping to keep ACORE members appraised on related activity on the Hill. He came to D.C. to pursue a joint MBA/MA degree at American University after spending about three years as a project manager with a healthcare IT company where he was surprised to learn he had a strong stomach for trauma surgery. Peter dreams and works towards a transformational change in our energy sources and use. Peter is currently NABCEP PV Entry Level certified and a credentialed LEED Green Associate.

Alejandro N. is a Development Intern at ACORE and a rising Junior in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University majoring in Science, Technology and International Affairs with a concentration in Business, Growth and Development. While at ACORE he has been researching the development of renewable energy projects in Latin America, specifically wind and solar energy projects in the highlands and the coastal regions of northern South America. ââ,¬Å"My interest in renewable energy grew after I heard about organizations such as ACORE and IRENA which are dedicated to moving renewable energy into our daily lives. In many of the reports presented by these organizations, we can see that the number of renewable energy projects in the United States and Europe is, in fact, increasing. Several countries in the European Union are building bigger and more effective wind farms and the United States continues to develop new technologies to make renewable energy more efficient. On the other hand, Iââ,¬â,,¢ve seen that this process is stuck in Latin America.ââ,¬Â After he graduates from Georgetown, he would like to work for the United Nations Development Program and renewable energy projects in Latin America.

ACORE Internships Are a Great Learning Experience
At ACORE, you have the unique opportunity to be near the front lines of renewable energy policy, and to see developments in real time as they happen. You also have amazing opportunities to attend panels, conferences and numerous exciting RE industry events in the D.C. Area. Furthermore, with your individual research project, you have a pretty unique opportunity to customize your project to what interests you in the renewable energy arena.

Dustin, my fellow ACORE intern agrees that there are abundant learning opportunities at ACORE. ââ,¬Å"Interning at ACORE has been a terrific educational experience and an excellent opportunity to gain first-hand exposure to the renewable energy finance industry.ââ,¬Â

ââ,¬Å"Every day you learn about new ideas, new policies, and new innovations in the RE industry,ââ,¬Â Clement says. ââ,¬Å"And every week you meet passionate businessmen, policy makers, and NGO leaders who are there to interact with you and motivate you to develop your skills and knowledge in the RE field.ââ,¬Â

The intern field trips also give you what I think is a pretty unique opportunity to learn and have a more hands-on experience in renewable energy. This summer we toured a waste-to-energy plant in Virginia where we got to see (and smell) how theÃ,  waste-to-energy conversion process works. We also took a tour of a zero-energy house that uses a combination of on-site solar, wind, geothermal energy, advanced battery storage and energy efficiency measures to effectively operate independently from the grid.

Great Networking Opportunities
The endless networking opportunities are arguably the greatest part about the internship. During the course of the internship, Iââ,¬â,,¢ve had the opportunity to attend many conferences and events, most notably REFF-Wall Street in NYC, which was packed with key industry leaders from the entire spectrum of the RE value chain, including financiers, manufacturers and developers. And, during the development of our research projects, we had the opportunity to conduct informational interviews with industry leaders that helped us build and develop our professional networks.

Clementââ,¬â,,¢s favorite networking opportunity was REFF-Wall Street. ââ,¬Å"The best experience for me was definitely working at the Renewable Energy Wall Street Finance Forum. That conference not only kept me updated on the latest trends in RE finance, but also allowed me to network with key industrial leaders.ââ,¬Â

Great Environment and Unbeatable Location
It is hard to beat being located in the center of Washington just 2 blocks from the White House. Hao, agrees: ââ,¬Å"The active and fast-paced nature of the industry and D.C. has made the internship very excitingââ,¬Â. In addition, ACORE is located just 2 blocks from the metro, which makes the morning commute easy, no matter what part of D.C. you are coming from. It is also a great location for grabbing lunch with other ACORE interns or staff at many of the nearby eateries or food trucks.

Gives Your Career Direction
I came to ACORE knowing that I was interested in pursuing a career in renewable energy, but I was not exactly sure of how I could best fit in. ACORE has given me unrivaled access to resources within the renewable energy industry. Iââ,¬â,,¢ve had the opportunity to conduct informational interviews with industry leaders who helped me figure out which path might in the renewable energy industry might be right for what I want to accomplish.

Clement also thinks that ACORE has helped him better focus his career path. ââ,¬Å"I would say that my career path was unclear before joining ACORE. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to do something in promoting the U.S.-China relations. The experience at ACORE has helped me find my direction in the intersection of renewable energy and U.S.-China relations. As the two nations are playing more significant roles in combating climate change in the international community, I am dedicated to a career in the RE industry.ââ,¬Â

Customize Your Intern Experience with Your Individual Research Project
At ACORE, the primary activity that interns work on is their individual research project. For my project I chose to look into the transferability of the Swedish waste-to-energy model to the United States. The project has been a great experience because I have had the opportunity to interview experts in the WTE field in both Sweden and the United States. Furthermore, the project is something that I will be able to take with me upon leaving ACORE, something I can leverage for my future career search. The other ACORE interns have had equally interesting research topics:

Hao is taking an in depth look at the existing joint venture projects between U..S and Chinese wind companies. He hopes to analyze the job creation aspects and trace where turbine components are manufactured for these JV projects to see the costs or benefits of engaging in these projects with Chinese firms. Ã, 

Peter is quantifying risk and additional costs to renewable energy investments brought on by the inconsistent or nonexistent domestic energy policy.

Clement has focused on the renewable energy labor market, specifically on what the U.S. and China can learn from Germany as it transitions its labor force from a conventional energy industry into primarily renewable energy industry.

Dustin is analyzing the comparative benefits of different financing structures for various biofuel and biomass energy developments, both domestically and abroad.

Garrett is looking at the German action to decommission their nuclear reactors by 2022, and their successes on theÃ,  finance and policy side, and what challenges the United States faces in the future, both in policy and finance, moving towards full renewable energy reliance.

Alejandro is examining the current renewable energy projects in Latin America, and what finance, policy and other issues developers face when attempting to introduce new projects.

 

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