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Energy Innovation 2010: Rethinking Energy Innovation

Leading think tanks sponsor day-long conference rethinking energy innovation in the United States: getting to scale, making clean energy cheap, securing American leadership.

Energy Innovation 2010 conference banner

After two years of often-tumultuous debate in Congress, the national debate over energy and climate change policy has now been altered: cap and trade policy efforts have run aground in Congress, perhaps fatally, and Republicans are ascendant, reshaping the national political landscape. Meanwhile, with economic recovery the top priority for the public and policymakers alike, America’s clean tech competitors are surging ahead, raising the stakes for energy policy.

Against this backdrop, support is growing on both right and left for new national investments in energy innovation that can help address some of the most urgent imperatives of our time – renewing the economy, improving energy security and public health, and overcoming key environmental challenges.

A growing chorus of voices thus counsels a renewed national commitment to develop breakthrough energy technologies – and to the reform of America’s energy innovation system itself.

In recent months, energy experts have advised policymakers to: take a page from the nation’s long history of successful military research and procurement; build on the success of agricultural research stations and the National Institutes of Health by establishing new innovation institutes and clusters nationwide; promote the right mix of both competition and collaboration to spur innovation and productive knowledge spillover; reform energy subsidies to reward innovation; and restructure business taxes to promote investment in the building blocks of an innovation economy.

On December 15th, a group of America’s leading policy think tanks will host a day-long conference in Washington D.C. to rethink energy innovation.

Energy Innovation 2010, held at the National Press Club, will bring together leading experts from government, think tanks, academia, and business to ask hard questions about how energy innovation efforts can be brought to scale, how the innovation system must be restructured and reformed, and how to renew the kind of active partnerships between the public and private sectors that were responsible for so much of America’s prior technological innovation and economic strength.

The free, day-long conference is sponsored by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and the Breakthrough Institute, with the American Enterprise Institute, Third Way, Clean Air Task Force, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, Securing America’s Future Energy, and the Brookings Institution. The conference organizers are pleased to welcome and Yale Environment 360 as media sponsors for the event.

Registration for Energy Innovation 2010 is free, but required in advance as space is limited, so register today.

Panels and discussions will be moderated by some of the nation’s leading journalists and commentators on energy and innovation, and include:

Federal Energy Innovation Strategies


  • Cathy Zoi, Acting Under Secretary for Energy and Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
  • Dr. Arun Majumdar, Director, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy
  • Dr. Jeffrey Marqusee, Executive Director, Strategic Environmental R&D Program and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, Department of Defense

Alexis Madrigal, senior editor for The Atlantic, will lead a discussion with three government officials spearheading the federal energy innovation effort. Questions considered: how are federal energy innovation strategies changing, what more must be done, and which agencies are the right home for key innovation efforts?

Energy Technology Experts on the Clean Tech Gap


  • Dr. Burton Richter, Nobel Laureate physicist and Director Emeritus, Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC) National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Dr. Martin Hoffert, Professor Emeritus of Physics, New York University
  • Dr. Nathan Lewis, Professor of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology, Director of DOE-funded Fuels from Sunlight Energy Innovation Hub

Following an introduction by Michael Shellenberger, President of the Breakthrough Institute, and a keynote presentation from Dr. Richter, Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth blogger for The New York Times and Senior Fellow at Pace University, will discuss with three of the nation’s foremost energy scientists the true scale of the energy technology challenge and the innovation required to close the price gap between clean and dirty energy.

A New Centrism: Making Clean Innovation Policy Bipartisan


  • Jonathan Epstein, Office of Senator Jeff Bingaman / Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
  • Neil Brown, Office of Senator Richard Lugar / Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
  • Ted Nordhaus, Chairman, Breakthrough Institute
  • Steve Hayward, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
  • Josh Freed, Direct of Clean Energy Program, Third Way

With the political landscape in Washington upended on November 2nd, moderator Jim Tankersley of the National Journal will discuss prospects for a new clean energy centrism in both the next Congress and beyond, joined by key Congressional staff from each side of the aisle and policy thinkers from across the ideological spectrum. Can Congress find bipartisan consensus on a new energy innovation strategy to address energy security, enhance public health, strengthen American leadership in new technology sectors, and stave off the risks of climate change?

That’s just a sample of the panels and discussions on offer at Energy Innovation 2010.

Find out more and register today here.

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