Category: Georgetown Magazine, Spring 2023

Title:Alumnus documents origins of the renewables industry

Author: Gabrielle Barone
Date Published: April 17, 2023
a man stands with a book in front of a book shelf display
To celebrate the launch of his book, Tom Weirich (SFS’02) went on a national book tour in 2022, including stops in Houston, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Photo: Courtesy of Tom Weirich

In writing a book about industry leaders, Tom Weirich (SFS’02) hopes his experiences can serve as a connection point for others wanting to join the growing renewables field.

We Took The Risk: The Stories Behind the Early Risk Takers in the U.S. Renewable Energy Industry and the Leadership Traits that Made Them a Success originally began as an op-ed piece that Weirich wrote as a tribute to his industry mentor, Lt. Col. Bill Holmberg. He was later encouraged to write a book about his experiences alongside the origins and growth of the U.S. renewables industry.

Weirich, marketing head at EDP Renewables North America—and former COO and senior vice president of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), which he helped build along with Jodie Roussell (C’01)—agreed that the time was right.

He spent the COVID-19 lockdown interviewing 100 industry connections, then identified a signature character trait each embodied.

“It was almost like an industry reunion of sorts in that I got to reconnect with so many mentors during COVID-19,” says Weirich. “[The lockdown] gave me the gift of access. Everyone was home, everyone was virtual, and everyone wanted to connect to talk about the next evolution of U.S. renewables.”

Weirich worked to compile the interviews and identify the key messages. His book was published in October 2022.

We Took The Risk was created to help the average reader learn about the origins of the renewables industry. It also served to reinvigorate those early founders and remind them of the importance of taking risks.

“We say we’re not afraid to fail until we’re in that situation,” says Weirich. “Well, learn from it. There’s a failure story in every single one of those chapters, but stay persistent. And in doing so, you find out you’re a lot stronger and more resilient than you think you are.”

While he wrote the book as a tribute, Weirich also hopes it will inspire the Georgetown community to become more interested in renewables, and offers himself up as a mentor and resource. He hopes the 25 featured leaders and the Renewables Resources list in the book will help people make the connections needed to begin their own renewables career.

“I think that’s the most important lesson in this journey: reach out to others and they will support you.”

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