It was 8:30 am, and instead of being woken by the sounds of kids playing on the beach and the smells of breakfast, as we had been for the past two days, my fiancé and I were jarred to consciousness by a loud banging on what sounded like the wall in the next room. Indignant, we stumbled out of our room to see what was causing the ruckus, and were met with five Vietnamese men – three on the ground, and two on the roof, engaged in some kind of renovation project. When they saw our faces, they smiled broadly and pointed up proudly: “Solar panels! To heat the shower water!” And, what started as a grumpy morning turned into an interesting snapshot of one of a multitude of ways that developing countries around the world are incorporating renewable technology into everyday life.

Earlier on this trip to Vietnam – where I was part of the Global Residency program conducted by Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business (MSB) – I walked through a residential neighborhood and saw small hardware shops on every corner. All of them sold some form of individualized solar panels. In a country where the electric grid is less than dependable (see the photo above), you can see why Vietnamese individuals would want to take matters into their own hands.

The whole experience made me think of the work we do at Empower Generation and clarified how important it is that we are truly a global enterprise. Not only are countries like Vietnam, Nepal (where our pilot is taking place) and others ready and excited to embrace renewable energy technology (RET) devices, but our fearless leaders Anya and Bennett are stationed in the Netherlands. My experience outside of the US, and in speaking to fellow MSB-ers who traveled to other destinations like Brazil, where all the cars are flex-fuel, Barcelona, where you have to insert your key into a slot to turn on the electricity in hotel rooms, and others, highlighted the outlier nature of the US’s relationship with renewables. Here, they are still new, met with skepticism and even seen as crunchy. Abroad, they are already baked into everyday lives and attitudes. As EG grows up, our global roots and perspective will give us the confidence to know the world is ready for more RETs and prepare us for the day when the US is also ready to truly embrace this industry.