May 17, 2020

Innovative Leaders Will Carry the Global Energy Industry Forward

energy digital
sustainable leaders
4 min
A new era of talent
View this article in our digital reader Written byTed Konnerth, CEO of Egret Consulting The energy industry is changing rapidly — with governmen...


View this article in our digital reader

Written by Ted Konnerth, CEO of Egret Consulting

The energy industry is changing rapidly — with governmental regulations, consumer demand and environmental impacts that will continue to grow.

To change in a more sustainable and responsible manner, it is essential to both find and mentor innovative leaders who are both optimistic about the possibilities of alternative energies and realistic about how to achieve market success.

The energy leaders of today and the future succeed through the company organizational structure and support system that best enables their talents. Technological advances in the energy industry, coupled with policy changes and environmental impacts, has ushered in a new era of talent requirements and a new type of leader to move companies and organizations involved in the global industry forward.

What makes an innovative leader?

The talent it takes to lead a company is not easily transferable from industry to industry. Successful leaders tend to specialize in their industry and garner the knowledge of the customer and channel influences that shape that industry.

Take for example, the tide of new technologies sweeping through the lighting sector. The emergence of energy efficient LED technology ushers in the need for talented leadership to guide companies through cultural transitions as channel relationships begin to change. Those individuals who are willing to conduct business in a new way — while still understanding how business has traditionally been done — will succeed. In this age where the energy industry is increasingly reliant on new technologies (smart meters, DC distribution, grid improvements, etc.), leaders must stay abreast of changes in new technologies and opportunities to guide their companies to pioneer and partner with like-minded innovative companies and individuals. They must also be keenly aware of legislative and policy issues affecting their industry.


Read More in Energy Digital's February Issue

How organizations cultivate, develop and attract innovative leaders

The energy sector requires talented individuals with strength in designing, implementing and managing new technologies as well as research and development practices. The key is to identify individuals who understand the pace of technology and who also meld well with company culture. With rapidly changing technology and channel partnerships, it will be necessary to attract and retain emerging leaders who can bridge the gap from legacy relationships to new solutions — all within an industry that has been largely resistant to change.

Energy companies of the future will encourage a culture of innovation and reward innovative thinkers for their creativity and contributions to future products, customers and marketing concepts. Creating a company that is a destination site for people to work provides a constant stream of top tier talent to attract and change the company culture from a traditional legacy company to an innovative, market leader company.

Why innovative leaders are crucial to the future of the energy industry

Innovative leaders are the captains steering the ships of progress. Sustainability and efficiency depends on people who think and act with both in mind. Companies with new modes of thinking with products and services that change the energy industry will advance it. The opportunity for substantial growth occurs in times of rapid change, and the industry faces unprecedented changes right now.

Leadership must guide companies in the energy industry through seismic shifts in the years ahead. These leaders have a track record of success in forward-thinking technology companies. They are executives who see beyond the defined boundaries of the past. Energy-related companies are hiring chief technology officers and innovation officers who understand how important research and development is, yet also understand the pulse of the market and end customers. C-level energy leaders of the future will embrace change and encourage the adoption of technology to become more efficient, more reliable and more sustainable.

The energy industry is expanding with alternative energy sources, new products that can have significant impacts on energy conservation and new approaches to save T&D energy losses. The leadership opportunities within this industry are unlimited.

Ted Konnerth is the founder, president and CEO of Egret Consulting Group — a retained search firm specializing exclusively in the electrical industry. Ted was the global V.P., Sales for Cooper Lighting prior to starting Egret and holds a Ph.D. in psychology. 



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Oct 19, 2020

Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process

Scott Birch
3 min
Nevada firm aims to become the primary manganese producer in the United States
Nevada firm aims to become the primary manganese producer in the United States...

Itronics - a Nevada-based emerging cleantech materials growth company that manufacturers fertilisers and produces silver - has successfully tested two proprietary processes that recover manganese, with one process recovering manganese, potassium and zinc from paste produced by processing non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. The second recovers manganese via the company’s Rock Kleen Technology.

Manganese, one of the four most important industrial metals and widely used by the steel industry, has been designated by the US Federal Government as a "critical mineral." It is a major component of non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, one of the largest battery categories sold globally.

The use of manganese in EV batteries is increasing as EV battery technology is shifting to use of more nickel and manganese in battery formulations. But according to the US Department of Interior, there is no mine production of manganese in the United States. As such, Itronics is using its Rock Kleen Technology to test metal recoverability from mine tailings obtained from a former silver mine in western Nevada that has a high manganese content. 

In a statement, Itronics says that its Rock Kleen process recovers silver, manganese, zinc, copper, lead and nickel. The company says that it has calculated – based on laboratory test results – that if a Rock Kleen tailings process is put into commercial production, the former mine site would become the only primary manganese producer in the United States.

Itronics adds that it has also tested non-rechargeable alkaline battery paste recovered by a large domestic battery recycling company to determine if it could use one of its hydrometallurgical processes to solubilize the manganese, potassium, and zinc contained in the paste. This testing was successful, and Itronics was able to produce material useable in two of its fertilisers, it says.

"We believe that the chemistry of the two recovery processes would lend itself to electrochemical recovery of the manganese, zinc, and other metals. At this time electrochemical recovery has been tested for zinc and copper,” says Dr John Whitney, Itronics president. 

“Itronics has been reviewing procedures for electrochemical recovery of manganese and plans to move this technology forward when it is appropriate to do so and has acquired electro-winning equipment needed to do that.

"Because of the two described proprietary technologies, Itronics is positioned to become a domestic manganese producer on a large scale to satisfy domestic demand. The actual manganese products have not yet been defined, except for use in the Company's GOLD'n GRO Multi-Nutrient Fertilisers. However, the Company believes that it will be able to produce chemical manganese products as well as electrochemical products," he adds.

Itronics’ research and development plant is located in Reno, about 40 miles west of the Tesla giga-factory. Its planned cleantech materials campus, which will be located approximately 40 miles south of the Tesla factory, would be the location where the manganese products would be produced.

Panasonic is operating one of the world's largest EV battery factories at the Tesla location. However, Tesla and other companies have announced that EV battery technology is shifting to use of nickel-manganese batteries. Itronics is positioned and located to become a Nevada-0based supplier of manganese products for battery manufacturing as its manganese recovery technologies are advanced, the company states.

A long-term objective for Itronics is to become a leading producer of high purity metals, including the U.S. critical metals manganese and tin, using the Company's breakthrough hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, and electrochemical technologies. ‘Additionally, Itronics is strategically positioned with its portfolio of "Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies" to help solve the recently declared emergency need for domestic production of Critical Minerals from materials located at mine sites,’ the statement continues.

The Company's growth forecast centers upon its 10-year business plan designed to integrate its Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies and to grow annual sales from $2 million in 2019, to $113 million in 2025.

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