About Me

Austin Brentley - Solar Writer & Marketer

My love affair with solar energy began several years ago when I was railing on and on about ExxonMobil’s record breaking profits (many times broken since), and my friend and mentor, Sarah, stopped me mid-sentence and asked a very profound question:

“Austin, if every oil company suddenly went bankrupt tomorrow, would you be happy?”

It took me a few minutes to really digest this kōan of a question, and to this day, I have yet to respond with an equally zen-like answer.

Sarah, who worked for an oil company at the time, was absolutely right. Fossil fuel runs the global economy. Cheap, abundant, and energy-rich, sources like oil and coal literally fueled the industrial revolution, bringing astonishing wealth and opportunity to large portions of the world.

While the environmental effects of these developments are impossible to ignore, I eventually realized that without scalable and cost-effective alternatives, my complaints were extremely short-sided. Pure and simple, oil companies generate products and services that people badly need. If these companies suddenly disappeared tomorrow, our entire existence would halt.

Pretty grim for an “About Me” section, I know. But this gives you a glimpse into the thinking that led me to my eventual calling.

Faced with Sarah’s rather pointed realism, it became apparent that I could either keep my mouth shut or become part of the solution. I chose the latter. After exploring a number of renewable energy technologies, including wind, biofuel, and geothermal, solar energy resonated with me the most (read the Helio Sapien Blog to learn why).

I could wax eloquent about the innovative and economic potential of this technology, but my affinity for solar is much more basic – no one owns the sun (or perhaps we all do collectively). It’s just there, smiling down at our tiny little planet, beaming us with more energy than we could ever possibly use. Day in and day out, our starry friend reminds us that nearly all energy and life on Earth is a derivative of solar power.

After deciding to launch a career in developing and promoting solar energy, I had a new life mission, but unfortunately, no viable means of realizing this goal given my particular background. Born and bred in Washington, DC, I completed my history degree at Harvard University before working in television, music, English teaching, Web start-ups, medical tourism, camp counseling, and professional writing. While these adventures have taken me all over the world allowing me to live in New York, Hawaii, Japan, Thailand, France, Malaysia, and the Netherlands, not one of these experiences conferred the technical or business background necessary to become a true solar energy expert.

Austin Brentley - Solar Writer & Marketer

Me in Borneo

And thus, I decided to enroll in business school, thinking that with enough training, I could become a solar energy consultant. When I enrolled in the University of Nottingham’s MBA program in 2008, the business landscape was full of opportunities. By the time I graduated, the recession was in full swing, and MBAs were suddenly a dime a dozen. What to do?

Undeterred, I began writing – both as a means to connect with those in the industry and as a way to further educate myself about solar energy. Through this, I managed to connect with a number of important solar stakeholders, providing communications and professional writing services to companies like SunPower Corp., Solar Academy International, Solamas, US Solar Institute, and Solar Network International.

Two years later, I still consider myself a relative newcomer, but my enthusiasm for solar has matured extensively, as has my urgent desire to leave a cleaner world than the one I inherited.   Through Helio Sapien, I hope to continue exploring the renewable energy space, augment my solar writing skills, and make new friends along the way.  In doing so, I’d like to play a more critical role in erecting a greener future for generations to come.

If you would like to join me in this journey (or have me join you in yours), please drop me a line or connect with me on LinkedIn.  I would love to hear your views regarding solar energy or explore opportunities to lend my solar writing expertise for your own projects.

Hope to meet you soon – may all of your days be sunny,

-Austin