The following program is subject to change. Please check back for regular updates.

Virtual Event Program

All VERGE Hawaii times listed are in HAST (Hawaiian -Aleutian Standard Time)

Plenary

Oli: Blessing & Opening

The event will kick off with an oli, a traditional blessing used by Hawaiians throughout generations to preserve oral histories and traditions. It served as the life blood that preserved and perpetuated the Hawaiian culture. Today, the oli is referred to as the soul of the aboriginal peoples of Hawaii and is recognized at the highest form of the Hawaiian language.

Plenary

Organizer's Welcome

An overview of Hawaii’s first VERGE conference.

Plenary

Host Welcome

Context for this year’s event from the head of the state's Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Plenary

Governor's Address

Last year, Governor Ige signed into law the most aggressive clean energy goal in the country. What has happened since then, and where do we go from here?

Plenary

Framing Hawaii's 100% Renewables Mandate: Challenges & Opportunities

The head of Hawaii's largest utility and the former chair of the state’s Public Utilities Commission provide context on the state's cultural history and energy landscape, explain how clean energy and sustainability goals are impacting various stakeholders, and describe the opportunities ahead.

Plenary

VERGE Talk: How Coordinated Action in Hawaii Can Accelerate Global Progress

How can local solutions help solve global challenges? By leveraging her experiences shaping energy, climate and environmental goals globally, the head of Hawaii Green Growth (and former White House staffer) will provide a strategic framework that shows how energy goals can lead to a broader set of sustainable development goals, and into concrete actions.

Plenary

Transforming Transportation Systems for a Clean Energy Future

From smart growth to biofuels, Hawaii is undergoing significant transformations across its ground, air and marine transportation sectors.

Plenary

VERGE Accelerate Showcase

This fast-paced start-up competition provides entrepreneurs in energy, transportation, water, agriculture and cybersecurity the opportunity to pitch their startups to the VERGE audience. Industry experts provide commentary, and audience votes determine the winner.

Plenary

Remembering the Consumer

While the energy community pushes ahead toward the goal of 100% renewables, Hawaii's energy consumers remain skeptical.  Without their support, our state's clean energy transformation is at risk. How can we bring customers and the wider community into this conversation, address their concerns, and secure their buy-in?

Plenary

VERGE Talk: Getting Residential Buy-in on Solar – Lessons from Australia and Beyond

One in five Australian households has purchased a solar system in the last decade, the highest penetration level of residential PV in the world. Australian PV customers aren’t wealthy environmentalists — they’re the middle-income workers, dissatisfied with their power utility and seeking to take charge of their energy bills. This talk explores how Australia has gotten such a high penetration rate among residents.

Plenary

The Power of the Private Sector in the Clean Energy Economy

MGM Resorts International has become a leader in large-scale renewable energy installations on its properties. The company's chief sustainability officer and former CFO provides insights and inspiration on the business case for on-site renewables as well as innovative partnerships that can ensure success.

Plenary

VERGE Talk: Resilience as an Economic Development Strategy

Idaho is a conservative state where dirty power is dirt cheap. But the economy needs help and its infrastructure is fragile. Google’s former climate lead is leading the charge to make her home state run on 100% renewable energy using resilience as an economic development strategy.

Plenary

Accelerating Energy Resilience & Security: Lessons from the Front Lines

For years, the Department of Defense has been leading the way in renewable and distributed energy systems, with the goal of improving mission effectiveness while saving energy and lives. The lessons it has learned and the technologies it has advanced can serve as a blueprint in the civilian world.

Plenary

Day 2 Welcome

Kicking off the second day, with a recap from the organizers and a message from Senator Schatz.

Plenary

VERGE Talk: How Hawaii Can Be a Model of Innovation for the World

In a lot of ways, Hawaii has led. And many of the most innovative companies are starting in the state. But as Hawaii heads toward an inflection point in attracting capital and talent in a globally competitive marketplace, where should it stay the course, where should it change direction, and where should it double down?
Plenary

Building a Roadmap to 100% Renewables

As Hawaii starts its journey toward 100% renewables, what are the viable policy pathways, new market models and technical opportunities worth exploring? What can Hawaii learn from other islands undergoing similar transitions? How is this affecting energy infrastructure stakeholders, and what are the lessons learned?

Plenary

VERGE Talk: Renewable Cyber Issues - Securing Grid Infrastructure from Hackers

Our current renewable energy Infrastructure relies on insecure technology, from the industrial control system/SCADA systems to unsecure communications. This has created a risky environment that can allow hackers to bring devastating physical and cyber consequences to customers and to the grid itself. This provocative presentation (and demo) looks at how we can protect our critical infrastructure from cyber attacks.

Plenary

VERGE Accelerate Showcase

This fast-paced start-up competition provides entrepreneurs in energy, transportation, water, agriculture and cybersecurity the opportunity to pitch their startups to the VERGE audience. Industry experts provide commentary, and audience votes determine the winner.

Plenary

VERGE Talk: The Power of Storytelling to "Set the Stage" for Hawaii's Journey

Creating high-performance renewable energy systems takes more than hardware. It requires buy-in from across the community. Storytelling can play a critical role, helping create a shared narrative of the future, and inspiring individuals and communities to work together to achieve it.
Plenary

Building Tomorrow’s Clean-Energy Infrastructure

Ensuring a reliable and resilient clean energy infrastructure for the state of Hawaii requires strong partnership between state government, the military and the private sector. As renewable energy increases, it is critical that the infrastructure can maintain its reliability and resiliency through the deployment of smart grid and micro grid technologies, investments in efficiency infrastructure, and a focus on energy security. 

 

Plenary

VERGE Talk: A New Model for Future-Proof Investing

What is “world positive” investing? A veteran entrepreneur and venture investor describes ‘future-proof’ business models that empower entrepreneurs to solve the world’s most pressing problems and explores how the cleantech investing space has evolved to encapsulate this emerging philosophy. 

Plenary

VERGE Talk: Why Clean Technology is a Trillion Dollar Opportunity

One of America’s foremost clean-tech innovators shows the size of the opportunity and new technologies that will pave the way.

Plenary

Is Storage the Holy Grail?

Energy storage has been called the ultimate solution to scaling renewable energy. As the technology steadily improves, it will be up to regulators to enact protocols, regulations and other things that will enable batteries to reach their fullest potential.

Plenary

VERGE Talk: Pollinators and PVs – A Ray of Hope for the Bees

How Minnesota is maximizing the benefits from a blooming market for solar energy through a simple idea that benefits its communities, crops and natural resources.

Plenary

VERGE Talk: The Path to Prosperity, Security and Sustainability

Hawaii’s leadership in renewable energy is at the forefront of a larger vision, born at the Pentagon, that embeds sustainability as a strategic national imperative.

Plenary

Day 3 Welcome

Closing plenary thoughts from the organizer and host.

Plenary

VERGE Talk: Aligning Local Needs with Clean Energy Action

For Honolulu, with its many shoreline communities, climate change is not academic. For its mayor, this requires urgent action. To begin, local government must lower its energy costs in the face of other budget demands such as critical infrastructure like sewers and rail, and collective bargaining agreements. It also requires integrating climate adaptation into infrastructure and planning, transit-oriented development, innovative energy- and grid-management strategies and other new design approaches that support climate adaptation and resilience. Mayor Caldwell will provide an overview of the challenges and opportunities facing Honolulu, Oahu and the Islands.

Plenary

Bilateral Opportunities: Impacts of Hawaii's Energy Policy and Deployment for Japan

With high penetrations of rooftop solar and constrained power grids, Hawaii and Japan have a lot in common. Energy executives from both geographies share their lessons learned and how they collaborate to create smarter grids.

Plenary

VERGE Talk: Bringing Smarter Power to the Pacific

On how Sunergise is helping some of the most vulnerable communities attain energy sustainability through innovative business models to corporate customers and enabling energy access in the Pacific.

Plenary

VERGE Talk: Bridging Divides and Proving What's Possible

How do we reframe, redefine and refocus the challenges we face to accelerate a more sustainable economy and society?

Plenary

Postcards from the Future: Lessons from Hawaii for the World

Two visionary entrepreneurs who have been thinking deeply about Hawaii’s energy future share their thoughts about the path forward.