The ASPEN Clean Energy Forum

aspen institute logo The ASPEN Clean Energy Forum

Last week I attended the Aspen Institute’s annual Clean Energy Economy Roundtable, from July 21–24, 2011 in Colorado to participate in conferencediscussions that focused on policy tools needed to further acceleratethe clean energy economy while highlighting innovations in clean-techpolicy, renewable energy and financing already underway.

Applied Materials Board member, Andy Karsner, co-chaired the roundtable along with JackHidary, chairman of Samba Energy. More than 60 individuals from acrossthe clean energy spectrum attended the four-day event includinggovernment officials, venture capitalists, industry analysts and company representatives, among others.

This year’s roundtable took amacro-level approach, and we, as the participants, focused on findingnew and innovative ways to address the important market and governmentpolicy challenges to the advancement of a more robust U.S. renewableenergy industry.

Daily sessions included discussions on how toaddress the structural realities of rising oil prices, the onset ofnatural gas as a cheap and abundant energy source and continuing globaldemand for coal, and how renewables continue to fit into the energy mix. The roundtable also looked at global fuel markets and thetransportation transformation, along with effective U.S. governmentpolicy frameworks and what barriers need to be removed to achieve a U.S. clean energy economy.

With little moving in Washington and federal efforts to advance renewablepolicy drivers — such as a Renewable Energy Standard (RES) and a priceon carbon — currently stalled in a divided Congress, the group spentsubstantial time discussing how to drive renewable energy and energyefficiency adoption by effectively marketing renewables to the U.S.consumer. In a time when advancing a comprehensive energy policy inWashington looks grim, much of our discussion centered on how to drivemore information and awareness of the overall value to the consumer.The group also discussed in depth the need for domestic manufacturingincentives that would help the U.S. better compete with China and othercountries currently leading the renewable energy manufacturing race.

The group intends to use this highly productive forum to produce a seriesof policy recommendations to the administration and Congress. I lookforward to sharing those recommendations with you at that time.