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2011 Excellence in Renewable Energy Awards – Leadership

No great industry achievements happen unless dynamic visionaries step up and spearhead efforts to bring about the change they envision. Whether it is pioneering the development of wind power technology, creating a financial vehicle that aids consumers in adopting solar energy, or keeping the pressure on politicians to ensure that an industry receives the research and development funding that it deserves, these leaders know that it takes years of hard work to move an industry forward.

Editors from the Renewable Energy World network, which includes five print magazines and four websites, selected these leadership winners from among five finalists in each the categories of technology, finance and policy. “We interview change-agents like these people each and every day in our work covering the renewable energy industry.  It’s an honor to finally be able to give them the positive recognition that they deserve for the work that they do,” said one network editor.

Leadership In Technology: James G. P. Dehlsen

James G.P. Dehlsen is a pioneering figure in wind power and renewable energy. In 1980, Dehlsen founded Zond Corporation and served as its CEO and Chairman of the Board. The company, which is now owned by GE, pioneered wind power technology, growing rapidly to become one of the largest global companies in wind turbine manufacturing, wind power project development and plant operation.

In 2001, Dehlson and his son, Brent established Clipper Windpower Inc., and in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, developed their fourth generation machine, the 2.5-MW Liberty wind turbine, featuring advanced drive train and controls architecture. In 2006 when the turbine went into production, the 105-ton, land-based Clipper turbine, with a 96-meter rotor, led the industry in turbine size.

Today, more than 475 Liberty turbines (1180 MW) are operating in 18 projects across the U.S. and Mexico, making Clipper one of America’s leading green industrial start-ups of the new millennium.

Recognition for Dehlsen’s work in the wind industry includes the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Wind Energy Association; induction into the Environmental Hall of Fame; and the Danish Medal of Honor conferred by His Royal Highness, Prince Henrik of Denmark.  He has served as an advisor to the Department of Energy's Wind Program; testified at the first U.S. Senate hearings on global warming; served as a delegate to the Conference on Climate Change in Kyoto, Japan; and actively served on the American Wind Energy Association and Worldwatch Institute boards of directors.  In 2008, he was inducted into the National Environmental Hall of Fame as “Father of Wind Energy in the U.S.”    

As a long-time innovator in wind working to expand his successes into other renewable energy sectors, this year’s Leadership in Technology award goes to James Dehlsen.

Leadership In Policy: Karl Gawell, Executive Director of the Geothermal Energy Association

Karl Gawell has been the executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association since 1997. During that time, he's helped oversee a renewed interest for geothermal among policymakers and throughout the business community.

From the 1990s until the mid-2000's, funding for traditional hydrothermal and development of new technologies like EGS, low-temperature binary cycle plants and co-production with natural gas fields was sparse. An industry like geothermal, which holds vast potential for disruptive change in the way the world gets energy, depends on a steady amount of research and development fund -- funding that comes from both the private sector and the government at large.

But with a strong push from the Geothermal Energy Association, led by Gawaell and other industry players, the industry has seen a dramatic surge of new investment from the Department of Energy, and thus private companies.

Due to the long lead-time for projects and the financial and technical risks associated with drilling new wells, 2010 was a difficult year for new development. But with strong government support in Washington for the industry, helped by the Geothermal Energy Association, there are dozens of new projects underway, potentially adding many more Terawatt-hours of new baseload generation in the coming years.

Prior to his tenure at the Geothermal Energy Association, Gawell was Director of Government Affairs for the American Wind Energy Association. And he was recently named Chair of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee by the Secretary of Commerce to provide input on meeting U.S. competitiveness and export goals.

For his role in helping guide policies that have spawned a renaissance in geothermal, Karl Gawell is the recipient of the 2011 Leadership in Policy Award.

Leadership in Finance: Lynn Jurich and Edward Fenster, Co-founders of SunRun

The Residential solar services sector is booming in the U.S. and Lynn Jurich and Edward Fenster, the co-Founders of SunRun, have been at the forefront of the movement since its inception. Founded in 2007, SunRun is provides solar leases and power purchase agreements to small commercial and residential customers, allowing homeowners and small business owners to install solar without the complexity and high upfront cost solar power is known for.

Since Jurich and Fenster joined forces to start the company, SunRun has spread from California to Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and raised over $380 million in funding to expand the company's services.

Jurich, who acts as President, was named by Fortune Magazine as one of the Ten Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs in 2009. Fenster, who acts as CEO, previously worked for the Blackstone Group, where he completed more than $10 billion in private equity and M&A transactions. Together, the two were named Entrepreneurs of the Year by Ernst and Young in 2010.

For their important work in creating solar services that have dramatically expanded the U.S. solar market, Lynn Jurich and Edward Fenster of SunRun are the winners of the 2011 award for Leadership in Finance.

For more on the winners of the Excellence in Renewable Energy Awards in the leadership catagory, play the video below.

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