Energy Seminar: David Danielson, The Fierce Urgency of Now: Re-Inventing the American Energy Innovation Ecosystem Today for 2050 Climate Impact in the Shadow of the Cleantech VC Bust

Sponsored by Precourt Institute for Energy


Monday, December 5, 2016
4:30 pm – 5:20 pm
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NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center

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David Danielson, Precourt Energy Scholar, Former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Talk abstract: 

Clean energy and climate is the defining challenge of our time. We must reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change. And although continued deployment of the technologies we have today is going to get us part of the way there, we will also need to successfully invent, commercialize, and deploy-at-scale a broad array of transformative new energy technologies if we are to mount a serious offensive toward achieving this daunting midcentury goal.

But we must be reminded that clean energy innovation takes time, with any new energy venture taking at least 30 years to go from inception to impact-at-scale. We are therefore faced with the fierce urgency of now to launch a whole new generation of transformational low-carbon energy ventures at an unprecedented pace and scale over the next 5-10 years.

However, in spite of this urgency, today early-stage venture capital for clean energy has almost completely evaporated after a highly unsuccessful attempt by Silicon Valley VC’s from 2006-2012 to directly apply the traditional VC model to energy. As a result, there is virtually no funding available today for aspiring hard-tech clean energy entrepreneurs: we are at risk of creating a “lost generation” of new clean energy entrepreneurs and ventures just when we need them the most. So what are we going to do?

In this talk, Dr. Danielson will describe the new American Energy Innovation Ecosystem that we must create together (and that is already beginning to be created) to activate the federal government, research institutions, philanthropists, the investment community, and large-scale industry in an unprecedented way over the next few years to successfully unleash the power of transformative innovation to solve climate change by 2050.

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