“Wind, solar, and storage are really elegant to me,” said Brock Taute, Invenergy Project Engineer, of his interest in the renewable energy industry. “Renewables can have a huge impact on the world, solving challenges using such simple, clean technology. It really brings my nerd passion out when I talk about it.”
A Nebraska native, Brock became interested in renewable energy systems as an undergraduate physics major. He was especially drawn to how wind and solar technology could help provide energy to the 1.2 billion people worldwide without electrical infrastructure. Brock co-founded an energy start-up focusing on microgrid optimization software and working on solar projects in far-flung corners of the world. He went on to receive his Master’s in the Atmosphere and Energy program at Stanford University.
Recently, Invenergy announced the start of commercial operations at the Wilkinson Solar Energy Center, a 74-megawatt (MW) solar farm in Beaufort County, North Carolina, and Brock was instrumental in bringing this project to life. Throughout the development of the project, Brock provided oversight of the technical components and managed the engineering during design and construction. The Wilkinson Solar Energy Center not only provides economic development opportunities for the community, but also supports the sustainability goals of a major corporate energy buyer, reflecting the growing corporate commitment to renewables and Invenergy’s ability to design and build plants that provide it.
Each customer need is unique, and each project has unique technical challenges. Brock’s interest lies in designing tailored energy solutions that will benefit more than just the customer’s operations.
“Our infrastructure is seeing benefits of clean energy solutions at the edge of the grid. Communities, municipalities, and businesses are taking more control over the source of the energy they use. The solutions offered by Invenergy help to reduce system costs, integrate existing renewables, and reduce emissions while supporting utility operations,” Brock says.
At Invenergy, Brock engineers solar and energy storage projects to reduce cost and maximize technology benefit. Communities, utilities, and companies increasingly seek more sustainable, cost-effective, resilient, and customizable solutions on the grid, and innovative approaches are key.
Outside his time at Invenergy, Brock volunteers with Engineers Without Borders, traveling around the world to work on projects from training local engineers to installing new renewable energy systems. During a trip to Nicaragua, he spent time installing solar home systems in a remote area with no electricity access.
“We were in a community deep in the mountains that was completely off-grid and likely will be for a long time to come,” shares Brock. “Our team aided by working with module manufacturers to identify the right-priced equipment and then installing the modules on a volunteer basis to bring down the costs of the solar home systems as much as possible. Each system involved a solar panel on the roof, a battery and inverter inside the home to provide a steady power supply, and a lightbulb connected to the system. Some residents had home appliances they needed to power. Some needed to power lights that allowed their shops to stay open after dark.”
For Brock, renewable energy is not only about the technology, but also about its transformative role in energy access, sustainable development, and overall socioeconomic growth.
“I’m passionate about bringing power to communities that don’t have it,” he says. “As we continue to build out better and more robust systems in the US, we learn lessons that can translate over into parts of the world with less energy access.”
Brock installing home solar systems in Nicaragua.