Ray Rothrock

Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

APRA-E Energy Innovation Summit Mid Day 3

In Energy on February 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm

I’m not sure what Arun would have done if he had four days?  This conference is the most aspirational event I’ve been to in a long long time.  This morning’s keynotes were simply awesome. Speakers were Ursula Burns, Susan Hockfield, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Rep. Chaka Fattah, Senator Chris Coons, Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Poneman, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.  The highlight was the before-lunch speaker, President Bill Clinton.

Key themes that came from today’s list of speakers were education, immigration, creating demand in the Federal Government, driving down costs so that any new technology does not need subsidies.

President Clinton was charming, witty, and really connected on energy matters.  He’s not a domain expert on energy, but what he cited in terms of the benefits to people, the impact to jobs of energy fixing, and some historical perspective and climate change were remarkable.  He beautifully connected it all to real world stories about people.  For example, he discussed how capturing gas from landfills and cleaning them up or restructuring them with local labor helps everyone nearby.

After President Clinton’s conference address, he came to a separate room to meet with all the students attending the conference, 82 of them from 30 universities, representing all the energy clubs in all many American universities.  Clinton took questions for over an hour demonstrating further his connection with energy and people and how it all matters to all parts of American society.

I hope you all will visit the ARPA-E site soon and see some of these incredible presentations.


APRA-E Energy Innovation Summit – Mid Day Two

In Energy on February 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I’m in attendance at the APRA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C.  By all accounts, based on my many and various hallway discussions, random meeting of old friends and new, this is a huge success for America.  The focus and attention being paid to this important area, energy, is paying off; no doubt about it.

No matter how depressing the news might be – whether it is something awful we did in Afghanistan, or the continued unwinding of America’s mortgage debt that is dragging the economy or whatever – if you were here, and you paid even half attention you would be over the top encouraged, excited, and delighted that innovation in America is still job one.  The thousands of people here represent academics, investors, inventors, policy makers and just interested folks, and obviously represent an even larger group “back home” of Americans wanting to solve America’s energy problem.

Dr. Arun Majumdar this morning delivered a pre-luncheon address that was second to none.  I hope it gets put on YouTube quickly.  He was his usual charming self with his analysis of the issues and technology problems.  But then he presented a representative company in his portfolio that was working on a specific problem.  He is an inspiring leader and we are all very luck to have him on this mission.  Thanks, Arun – you are truly a great American.

Also on the podium have been Bill Gates, Fred Smith, Lee Scott, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Steve Womack, and of course, Secretary Chu.  This all-star cast is only half done.   Tomorrow will be just as exciting.  Getting this set of folks here to talk about energy, the big issues and the big opportunities is not trivial and signals just how important this is.

There are many takeaways, of course, from a conference one like this.  For me, today, natural gas came up in every speech or discussion.  NG is big in America, and clearly the panels think it is underutilized as a portable fuel.  Also, the electrification of the automotive fleet was a big topic, too.