16 August 2010

New Energy Symposium 2010

This year's New Energy Symposium took place last week at the New York Academy of Sciences' lush office and conference space at the World Trade Center in New York.

Co-hosted by the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering's (CNSE) Energy and Environmental Technology Applications Center (E2TAC), along with New Energy New York, a consortium of New York State-based energy technology organizations, the two day event featured panelists from industry and government, as well as investors and academic institutions, along with over two dozen presenting companies.

More than one jeremiad was tossed out by the speakers. Most agreed that the time is now to seed the opportunity and not cede it to other countries (China and India were among those cited).

As Dr. Pradeep Haldar, director of E2TAC and head of the Nanoengineering Constellation at University of Albany's CNSE, reminded the attendees, "We are falling behind the rest of the world by $240-260 million in terms of investment in cleantech."

Several presenting companies hope to get a piece of that investment pie and hope that it grows. Highlights among the companies include: Algal Scientific Corporation, Ener-G-Rotors, and Energy Materials Corporation, which were the three "most promising companies" chosen by the extensive panel of investors, including David Wells from Kleiner Perkins, Alex Kinnier of Khosla Ventures, and Annachiara Danielli of Golden Seeds.

Other companies of interest included Paper Battery Company, InnoSepra, and three NYC ACRE tenants, Wind Products, Sollega, and Rentricity.

My three take-aways from the two-day conference:

1.) Time-of-use pricing is essential to make the Smart Grid work and to manage pricing and habits;
2.) Storage to balance the load and demand is essential -- and large increases in intermittent generation (from distributed sources and Battery Electric Vehicles) will increase this need; and
3.) Energy efficiency is still the low hanging fruit and has still not been picked.

The bottom line? While progress has been made towards the new energy future, we've still got a long way to go.

There was a healthy discussion about the role of Europe and India in the future of energy, but the elephant in the room was clearly China.

As Congressman Steve Israel put it in his keynote address, "China is our Sputnik. We need to see China's taking leadership of the clean energy arena as a wake-up call."

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