The 4th annual GROTTO (Green, Renewable and Oceanic Technology Transfer Outpost) “Market Expansion and Investments for Sustainable Technologies” was held in the Kennedy Caucus Room in the U.S. Senate June 8th to develop and share ideas on globalizing innovation for a sustainable world. Among the attendees were participants from a number of embassies, GE, Pew Trust Foundation, NASA, U.S. Department of State and the Swedish-American Chambers of Commerce. Moderating the seminar was Philippe Roos, Ph.D., Senior Reporter, Energy Intelligence Group.
The first speaker was Frank Niepold from the Climate Education Coordinator/Program Office at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Mr. Niepold educates U.S. citizens about climate change and its effects on society. He explained the methods they have used to turn climate science into working programs. “Through helping people understand climate change, we can help them manage risks and opportunities connected to that change”, Mr Niepold stated. He went on to declare how events associated with climate change have cost the U.S. $112 billion since 1980 and that yearly costs are increasing. 2011 was a record year of 14 extreme climate events, which affected property, construction, transportation, natural resources, energy sources, recreation and much more. This has brought about an increased supply of climate information, but people are still not paying attention. We see for example that, in spite of warnings about rising water levels, people are still moving towards the coasts. Hence countries are forced to invest in infrastructure in high risk areas.
The second speaker, Matthew McManus, Director of Public Diplomacy & Policy within the Bureau of Energy resources, gave the group a brief description of what the state department is doing within Energy Security to provide sustainable, affordable and reliable access to diverse energy sources. The U.S. is presently becoming less dependent on foreign energy sources, less dependent on oil, and more dependent on natural gas, shale gas presently accounting for 23% of gas consumption. However, gas is still not a global market, and prices fluctuate enormously across regions. Meanwhile, U.S. oil consumption peaked 7 years ago. “The best fuel for the future is the fuel that you never have to burn”, he concludes. In terms of fuel efficiency standards, the U.S. is rapidly catching up with the European Union, but China, Russia and others are still lagging far behind.
Finally, Phyllis Cuttino, Director of Clean Energy Program at Pew Trust Foundation, dug further into the global competition in clean technology. The Pew Trust Foundation maps trends in cleantech investments and they have noted that, in contrast to the still uncomfortably high general unemployment rate, clean jobs actually steadily increased across all states during the last few years. But how does this compare to the G20 countries? Initially she concluded that global investments in clean energy have increased by 600% compared to 2004 and that 95% of these investments come from the G20 countries. In 2011 alone $263 billion was invested in clean energy globally. Out of this sum of money, $225 billion goes to non government organizations and non-research projects. While the wind power market has matured, the solar market soars. In 2011 the U.S. regained its lead as number one in attracting clean energy investments topping the list with $48 billion, followed by China, $45.5 billion, and Germany, $30 billion Europe as a region is in the lead when it comes to attracting clean energy investment. Ms. Cuttino further asserted that by 2030 renewable energy sources will deliver 15% of all energy, and that 50% of all investment is going to happen outside of the U.S., Europe and China. If true, this will create great opportunities in developing countries, and a great demand for long-term market stability in these places.
The seminar went on with a discussion on the pathway to Sustainable development with panelists Georg Maue Ph.D., First Secretary Climate and Energy Policy, Embassy of Germany, Wayne Archibald, Ph.D., Director, Caribbean Green Technology Center, US Virgin Islands and Diane Powell, Director of NASA Team Leader Launch Program. The final round table discussion focused on Investment in Sustainable Technology Development. This discussion took an in-depth look at Public/Private funding initiatives with the help of a panel of Arthur “Chip” Cotton (Program Manager Energy R&D General Electric (GE) Global Research, Economic and Trade Office), MacArthur DeShazer (Director, Small Business Development & International Programs) and Sean Patton (Director, Business Development, Energy Solutions Lockhead Martin.