WasteFuel’s team brings together diverse backgrounds and perspectives to address the waste crisis and revolutionize mobility. We asked Charles Thompson, a Senior Project Manager in our Houston offices, about his career, his work at WasteFuel and the future of renewable fuels.
Q: You started your career working in the oil and gas sector, why did you move into the renewables space?
Charles: When I started my career, the oil and gas industry was a main driver of employment in Texas. At the time, it was undergoing a little bit of a renaissance for new technologies: higher capacities, higher pressures, horizontal wells, things like that. At the same time the industry was exploring new locations, like Africa and Latin America. These two exciting elements afforded me the opportunity to travel and work with new technologies which was the real pull.
However, over time, the industry matured and became less interesting from a technological perspective, and frankly, became very repeatable as these processes were standardized, and practiced consistently across the globe.
What's exciting is that the characteristics that existed 20 years ago in the oil and gas industry are the characteristics of the renewables industry today as we are exploring new locations and applying new technologies and innovations. The renewables industry is in growth mode, which is what gets me out of bed every day. It brings interesting opportunities applying new technologies, in both established and developing regions, helping build a greener more energy secure future.
Q: Is there a particular geography or technology that's exciting?
Charles: There's no one particular place; they're all pretty exciting since they all have different needs that need real strategy to address.
The idea that turning waste into usable products is a viable, scalable process is exciting. In 10 to 15 years’ time, the conversion of waste to fuels and available technologies will only continue to improve and grow.
Q: What appeals to you about working for WasteFuel?
Charles: What is great about WasteFuel and what immediately struck me was how impressive the people were. Throughout the interview process I got to meet with 4 or 5 people and every time it was like, "wow, that person was great” and then I’d meet the next person and was equally blown away by how exceptional that person was too! It was clear that I was going to be part of a business that really challenged the assumptions that I'd built up over the years doing business a certain way.
That's particularly true of the leaders in the business, like Trevor Neilson, the CEO, and Blake Mobley, Chief People Officer. They manage to have this great charisma and energy and that's certainly not something you come across regularly in the oil and gas drilling sector.
Q: What are some of the challenges to the transition to sustainable fuels?
Charles: The lack of a broadly applied carbon tax is a big problem because in effect where you don't have a carbon tax, that's really a subsidy to the oil and gas market. The environmental impacts of those technologies desperately need to be penalized.
Renewables will need these types of gaps to close, and when these glaring tax loopholes do, renewables will be competitive. What's interesting is that renewables will need many more installations to reach the scale of the larger oil and gas sites that currently exist, but this diversification will allow for greater energy security. Renewable installations will be local, and tailored to their regions, but local economies will all benefit from these energy hubs - not just the regions that are blessed with oil and gas reserves.
Q: What are the projects you're most looking forward to at WasteFuel?
Charles: I am particularly drawn to projects that focus on areas that serve underserved or lower income communities - providing jobs, clean fuel and clean environments. Our projects bring jobs and opportunities to local communities in some of the more agriculturally focused parts of the developing world, which is a really positive step.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your day to day?
Charles: I like the variety for sure, we're exploring multiple different projects, which results in a broad range of focus areas and the unique problems we are working to solve is fascinating. I'm very lucky because many jobs are process oriented and they only get to look at certain functions (e.g. electrical or foundations or piping), at WasteFuel, we have a variety and a lot of problem solving and I love that.
To learn more about Charles Thompson see his bio.