California Solar Thermal (CST) is a San Diego-based solar installation business on pace to do 42 solar thermal projects this year.  According to California Solar Statistics data they are the #1 solar thermal company in southern California, and are currently in the middle of installing the biggest non-utility system in the state.  Who are these guys, where did they come from?

I learned about California Solar Thermal through Virgil Bellini, a project integrator and long-time friend of CST Founder Matthew Traficonte.  Virgil grew up in Massachusetts, graduated from UMass Amherst, and has been with CST since March 2010.  Virgil was one of the first people to pass NABCEP’s new Entry Level Solar Heating Exam after taking Bob Ramlow’s solar hot water design and installation class.  Virgil cruised through that course – it was pretty obvious he was a man on a mission, and so we’ve stayed in touch ever since.

Virgil’s story is important for three reasons:

  1. It demonstrates the fact that entrepreneurs are still finding success in renewable energy.  These are normal guys with talent and integrity who decided to build something and have been successful by doing things the right way.
  2. It’s great to see a company going big with solar thermal.  They’ve installed more than a thousand panels over the past year on projects of every size.
  3. They’ve used strong partnerships to grow faster than they could on their own.  CST partnered with Sunup Energy to round out their team and win bigger projects.  Even the way we’ve partnered on training is an example of them staying focused on their core business and tapping others for expertise when they need it.

I get more pumped about the solar industry every time I talk to Virgil.  Hopefully his story will get you excited about your business and the industry too.  For more inspiration, you can browse hundreds of great solar thermal pictures on Virgil’s Google+ pages.