While earning his Bachelor of Science in Materials Science (Minnesota, 1989), Ralph developed a strong interest in photovoltaics. He decided to get into the solar business, and in 1991 he founded Innovative Power Systems (www.solar.mn). The first ten years were spent building off-grid thermal and electric systems, utilizing a variety of storage and control schemes.
In his 20-year service on the board of directors of the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society, Jacobson initiated events such as the MN Solar Boat Regatta, the MN Solar Home Tour, and public classes on solar energy. He served as the founding president of the MN Solar Energy Industries Association. He is currently crowdfunding solar development in Black and Indigenous communities and helping contractors of color get into solar.