Big Brains podcast explores the future of energy, innovation with entrepreneur

Alumnus Michael Polsky traces path from power plant engineer to wind farm developer

Editor’s note: Big Brains is a new University of Chicago podcast in which some of the pioneering minds on campus discuss their groundbreaking ideas and the stories behind them.

When UChicago alumnus Michael Polsky first ventured into the field of renewable energy in 2003, he thought he’d missed the boat.

“When we got into renewables in earnest, I thought we were too late,” said Polsky, MBA’87, believing people were well ahead of him in building clean energy projects. Today, he said we’re barely in “the third inning” of the renewables game.

The founder and CEO of Invenergy, one of the largest renewable energy companies in North America, Polsky believes it’s not a question of if but when the United States becomes completely energy independent of fossil fuels.

It’s a seemingly unexpected turn for the former power plant engineer who arrived in the U.S. from the Soviet Ukraine in the 1970s and began his career designing power plants.

With his strong technical background, Polsky wanted to better understand the business side of the industry by getting his MBA from the Booth School of Business. He credits his time at Booth for launching him on a path to his current work, and driving his decision to support the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UChicago.

Polsky said he was ecstatic when the University approached him with the idea for the Polsky Center, calling it “a revelation” after years of preaching the importance of entrepreneurship.

On this episode of Big Brains, Polsky discusses his early days in the energy field, his current project to build one of the largest wind farms in the world and why he believes in the power of innovation.

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