Going Green had the chance to chat with Ory Zik, the CEO of Qnergy. Some of the most influential people in the world in the sustainability and clean tech space are the ones who have built, ran, and sold successful companies, and focus their time on creating something that makes a big difference. We are excited to share the story about a lifetime in cleantech with Ory Zik.
Where do you work?
I am the CEO of Qnergy. Qnergy is the world’s leading clean technology manufacturer of Stirling energy systems. Qnergy provides the most reliable remote power generators for the 500W-10,000W range to help customers improve operational efficiency, decrease cost, and reduce emissions. Qnergy’s Stirling generators are an enclosed system that requires no lubrication, maintenance, or repair, delivering tens of thousands of hours of uninterrupted operation. Qnergy’s engines are fuel agnostics allowing the company to lead play a key role in the low-carbon economy.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I was born born in Israel, and now live in Brookline, MA. I am a physicist, environmentalist, and a cleantech entrepreneur. I am the CEO of Qnergy, as well as the founder of Greenometry – a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people estimate the climate impact of their decisions.
In the last twenty years, I was the founding CEO of a number of clean energy and technology companies. The list includes Energy Points: a developer of a unified metric for energy, carbon and water (acquired by Lux Research); Solar energy company HelioFocus, which uses concentrated solar power to replace fossil fuels in conventional power plants, and imaging company QuantomiX, the first to image fully hydrated cells and tissues in an electron microscope (acquired by El-Mul Technologies).
What is a fun fact about you?
As an environmental activist, I am known for founding and leading the Israeli branch of Greenpeace back in the 1990’s when I was a student.
What was your motivation to get into this industry?
It is the natural place for an entrepreneur with technical background that cares about the environment.
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
It is a ‘numbers game’ we have a carbon budget to remain below (1.5/2/3 degrees) and we are pretty good at discussing it, but make very little progress in actually meeting any meaningful reduction goal.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
I will answer with a hope: renewable energy, energy storage and other sustainability oriented industries should be as financially attractive as “Tech”. A nearly negligible fraction of investment money goes into companies that address fundamental sustainability issues. I am hopeful to see change, but I don’t see it.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
The typical answers are true: its how you vote, invest, behave, think and consume.
What positive changes are you seeing?
Companies understand that environmental performance is a key metric to their success. It starts from the top of the value chain. End customers, large multinationals and investors demand better environmental performance and this drives an the entire ecosystem. The challenge is that many people think about “green” as an ‘adjective’ but most find it difficult to quantify what they actually mean. As a result, companies are trying to source products that are not only cheaper but also greener. This is a major shift that we are seeing in our industry.
Thank you Ory Zik for taking the time to chat with Going Green. To listen to more cleantech CEOs, be sure to listen to the Going Green podcast.