The Future is Renewable

Electricity wasn’t always a guarantee for Hitesh Patel. Growing up in Ahmedabad, in the state of Gujarat, in India, 115-degree summer days were rarely made cooler by fans or air conditioning because of power restrictions. Hitesh’s childhood memories now fuel his passion for making an impact in the energy field.

Hitesh Patel, design engineer​ 

The path to Hitesh’s future career began at Gujarat University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with hopes of pursuing a master’s degree in North America. After earning his degree, Hitesh worked for a few years in India at a power company, where he specialized in helping his clients maximize their energy use. He then relocated to Canada with his wife and attended the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, graduating with a master’s degree in applied sciences.

Following his postgraduate studies, Hitesh was offered an opportunity to work for a multinational infrastructure engineering and construction company in North Carolina. After helping the organization grow their solar division, he relocated to Colorado and eventually joined PCL in 2017 as design engineer for the organization’s Solar division, where he continues to help grow PCL’s renewable energy experience in the US and as well supports projects in Canada.  

The Obvious Choice

When asked why solar should be used as an energy source, Hitesh’s response is simple, “Because we won’t run out of it.” As well as being limitless, solar is becoming a more efficient and cheaper source of energy than either traditional coal or nuclear power, and has already improved upon coal for cost per unit of power generated. So, what’s holding renewable energy back?

The Obstacles

One obstacle facing renewable energy is the presence of existing power-generation plants—traditional energy sources still drive the market. As plants continue to age and need more and more maintenance, however, opportunities arise to replace those sources with renewables. Currently, 50 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic power plants are in service in United States, and Hitesh believes that with the introduction of new solar sites, close to 100 GW of power will be produced solely from solar in the coming years. A gigawatt can provide enough energy for about 700,000 homes.

Some states offer valuable incentives for customers to make the transition to renewable energy sources. In addition, over 37 states have established goals for their overall renewable portfolios. Hawaii leads the charge, with a goal to become 100% reliable on renewables by 2045. California has pledged to be 50% reliable on renewable energy sources by 2020, and New York is close behind with a plan to reach that milestone by 2030. Solar is also spreading quickly in Texas, which has traditionally received most of its energy from petroleum.

PCL’s Role in the Renewable Energy Industry

PCL is currently the largest solar general contractor in Canada, with the number of solar panel installations surpassing 1.5 million. That many panels would take up 40 million square feet, or cover Disneyland twice.

“The renewable energy horizon is expanding quickly around the world and especially in the United States,” says Hitesh. “With the introduction of new solar technologies and energy-storage applications, the industry is poised for great change over the next decade. My goal is to keep PCL ahead of the curve so that we aren’t just part of the industry, but leading it and pushing it even further.”

Hitesh and his team not only build large-scale solar projects but also help PCL’s current commercial and industrial clients incorporate solar, BESS (battery energy storage system), and other renewable energy sources into their existing projects to reduce long-term operational and maintenance costs.

While Hitesh no longer worries about staying cool on hot days, he continues to work towards the goal of helping to alleviate that concern for everyone by pushing the power industry towards a more renewable future.