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Energy Innovation 2011 Coming To DC

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Breakthrough Institute's mission is to accelerate the transition to a future where all the world's inhabitants can enjoy secure, free, prosperous, and fulfilling lives on an...

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  • Oct 13, 2011

At Energy Innovation 2010, clean energy advocates, policy experts, and public officials moved the clean energy policy debate in a new direction: an innovation strategy is required to develop the transformative technologies we need to address climate change, achieve energy independence and reap potentially vast economic benefits.

This debate continues amid ever more stark economic realities. Many continue to advocate a carbon pricing or cap-and-trade regime, tough mandates, and traditional regulations and standards even though most of these offer little chance of becoming law and would not likely be effective if enacted on their own. Others remain philosophically opposed to the government’s role in spurring innovation even though it is clear that the costs and risks of developing these breakthroughs are simply too high for private companies to take on by themselves. Even if there was a strong consensus for an innovation-based strategy, we would have to ask the question of how to proceed in a cost-effective and efficient way.

As a result, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and the Breakthrough Institute are again bringing together some of country’s foremost thinkers, scientists and innovators to look at clean energy innovation strategies in a time of fiscal austerity.

Energy Innovation 2011 is sponsored by ITIF, Breakthrough Institute, Third Way, Clean Air Task Force, Clean Energy Group, World Resources Institute, the New England Clean Energy Council, and the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes.

Conference Agenda (SUBJECT TO CHANGE):

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM: Breakfast

9:00 AM – 9:10 AM: Opening Remarks: Rob Atkinson, President, ITIF

9:10 AM – 9:25 AM: Opening Keynote: Arun Majumdar, Acting Under Secretary for Energy/Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy

9:30 AM – 10:30 AM: The Clean Energy: Crises, Cost Curves, and Capabilities

Leading experts will address three pressing issues: the unsustainable nature of current mechanisms for supporting clean energy and the looming crash of the clean economy; the current state of existing clean technologies and their cost disparities of fossil fuels; and the need for clean energy solutions that lead to reduced consumption and improved capabilities for the Department of Defense.

Confirmed Speakers:

Devon Swezey, Project Director, the Breakthrough Institute

Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn (USN, Retired), President, the American Council on Renewable Energy

Marc Gunther, Contributing Editor, Fortune Magazine

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM: Clean Energy Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels: How Do We Do It?

The panel will provide a framework for understanding how policy can drive innovation to make clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels. It will start with a discussion of how not to do it – for instance, why prices and caps are insufficient. It will take a look at the pieces of an energy innovation ecosystem, and identify ways policy can support innovation from basic R&D through to commercialization and deployment.

Confirmed Speakers:

Matt Hourihan, Clean Energy Policy Analyst, ITIF

Letha Tawney, Senior Associate, World Resources Institute

Nate Gorence, Associate Director for Energy Innovation, the Bipartisan Policy Institute

Jesse Jenkins, Director of Energy and Climate Policy, the Breakthrough Institute

Bryan Walsh, TIME Magazine, Moderator

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: Lunch and Keynote Presentation: Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)

1:00 PM – 2:15 PM: Looking Beyond the Horizon: Driving Technological Breakthroughs

This panel will highlight the importance of potentially game-changing work being done at the frontiers of energy technology. Leading experts in fundamental research, technology transfer, and technological scale-up will take us through the important role each needs to play – and discuss how policy can help new technologies deliver on their promise.

Confirmed Speakers:

Blake Simmons, Senior Manager, Sandia National Laboratory

Sam Thernstrom, Senior Climate Policy Advisor, Clean Air Task Force

Mike Schwenk, Vice President and Director of Commercial Partnerships, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory/Battelle

Alexis Madrigal, The Atlantic, Moderator

2:30 PM- 3:45 PM: Smart Energy Policies: Driving Innovation in a time of Budget Austerity

A panel of policy and political experts will take the conversation into even greater depth, exploring particular policy areas and issues. Topics will include state activities to drive innovation in the clean economy; Defense initiatives to accelerate their own clean transition; the potential for creating a clean innovation trust fund using oil revenues; and other actionable recommendations.

Confirmed Speakers:

Lew Milford, President, Clean Energy Group

Daniel Sarewitz, Director, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes

Peter Rothstein, President, New England Clean Energy Council

Ramamoorthy Ramesh, Director, Department of Energy SunShot Initiative

Coral Davenport, National Journal, Moderator

3:50 PM- 4:25 PM: Innovation and Environmentalism: Finding Common Ground

Turning from policy to politics, this discussion between leading experts will address the subtle but important differences between the pro-innovation movement and the traditional environmental movement, with its emphasis on carbon caps and regulations. The discussion will seek an answer to a simple but vital question: will these differences persist, or can the clean energy movement present a united front?

Confirmed Speakers:

Josh Freed, Vice President for the Clean Energy Program, Third Way

4:30 PM: Closing Remarks

More Speakers TBA.

For more detail on the conference and speakers, click here.

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