[Q&A] UL’s Ken Boyce on Safety and Renewable Energy

[Q&A] UL’s Ken Boyce on Safety and Renewable Energy

kenneth-boyce Zpryme had a chance to catch up with Ken Boyce, Principal Engineer Manager – Energy,UL, for his perspectives on the role of safety in renewable energy, how UL fits into the Midwest energy ecosystem, and what makes for a good mentor. [ZP] What do you love most about your role at UL?

[Boyce] I am very fortunate to have the chance to work every day to both support renewable energy and to make the world safer. Each of those pursuits is great on its own, but to be able to do both is very rewarding!

[ZP] How has the role of the energy UL changed in the past ten years?

[Boyce] UL has really changed our role in energy significantly over the past decade. We have really been active in applying safety science to the energy sector. This has included initiatives from cutting edge research, to development of dozens of US and global standards to support deployment of new technologies, to greatly expanding our portfolio of services to address performance and the needs of stakeholders across the value chain. I am fortunate to have a great global team of experts in the Americas, Europe and Asia that have helped carry out these strategies very effectively.

[ZP] How is UL involved in the Chicago and/or Midwest energy ecosystem?

[Boyce] UL has always been deeply involved in the Chicago and Midwest ecosystem — in fact our origin was at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1894, protecting the public from the potential hazards of the cutting edge technology — at that time, electric lighting. Technology has changed a lot, but our mission has been constant. We have productive relationships with key academic institutions, industry members, thought leaders, and centers of excellence like Argonne National Laboratory. We see the Midwest in general, and Chicago in particular, as hubs rich in expertise for energy technology.

[ZP] Who is your mentor and why?

[Boyce] Gus Schaefer, recently retired Executive Vice President and Public Safety Officer for UL, has been a true mentor for me. Gus has always been amazing at finding ways to connect with people, draw out their perspectives, and find the best way to collaborate toward the best solutions. The energy sector is moving so quickly with so many important issues to tackle, I have the chance to apply the importance of what he has taught me.

[ZP] What individuals (i.e. thought leaders) get you excited about energy?

[Boyce] Elon Musk is a very intriguing person — by sheer will and innovation, he has catalyzed change in ways that seemed unlikely. Secretary Moniz has brought a great perspective to the leadership efforts of the Department of Energy. And Byron Washom, Director Strategic Energy Initiatives at University of California San Diego, has supported some great practical exploration of microgrids and renewable energy technologies that we are expanding on through our recent Memorandum of Understanding.

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