16 December 2010

It's About Time for a New Conversation About Energy Innovation

There's a new conversation happening around energy and it's about time.

Readers of The Green Skeptic know I am very interested in the question of how we can use good, old-fashioned American ingenuity to build an economy based on energy innovation, efficiency and manufacturing -- a new green economy.

Yesterday, a group of leading policy think tanks, including the American Enterprise Institute, Breakthrough Institute, Brookings, along with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation hosted a day-long conference on how to spur energy innovation.

Much of what was discussed there echoes what we've been saying here on The Green Skeptic: we need to focus on stimulating innovation. I also believe that such innovation can't just be focused on future, wish-list technologies, but the practical, real-world solutions of today.

This means an inclusive approach that identifies ways to use fossil fuels more efficiently and in a less environmentally damaging way, as well as increasing the efficiency of alternative energy technologies, the smart grid, storage, and demand management.

While I couldn't attend the event, there has been much written about it by several of the participants and organizers:

Here's Rob Atkinson, Ted Nordhaus, and Michael Shellenberger of Breakthrough Institute writing in advance of the event: Breakthrough

Marc Gunther of Fortune and The Energy Collective: Gunther

And Andy Revkin of the New York Times: Dot Earth

When it gets down to it, the critical question is how can we meet the predicted ten-fold increase in global energy demand in a way that is environmentally benign or even regenerative, while recognizing that fossil fuels will be with us for some time to come?

I'm encouraged that this conversation is starting. We can't afford to wait any longer.

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