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On April 21, 2017 fueled by a full schedule of invigorating presentations at the 2017 Earth Day Texas (EDTx) Expo and Conference, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Dr. Sanjiv Malhotra, director of the Energy Investor Center (EIC), welcomed a unique crowd of private sector investors, utility companies, and wind developers to discuss public-private partnership opportunities with the potential to fuel job creation and enhance national energy security in the U.S.
Secretary Perry’s key remarks from the roundtable discussion emphasized that “innovation is the engine that powers America’s economy.” Indeed, the cutting-edge research that stems from the Department of Energy’s 17 National Labs is essential to generate new technologies and innovations that will continue to meet the nation’s energy challenges for the future. However, coupling the basic research generated from the National Labs alongside funding from the private sector will not only catalyze innovation yet also push new technologies through the barriers of commercialization.
Dr. Malhotra framed the roundtable discussion around the concept of a “chemical reaction” for establishing public-private partnerships -- reflecting an input and output system where the input includes technologies from the Labs, human capital to develop the technologies, and state-of-the-art facilities at the Labs. The output of the chemical reaction results in products developed from the technologies, infrastructure created by manufacturing of the products, a supply chain created to support manufacturing of the products, and job creation.
Participants at the roundtable proved eager to share their input on addressing the challenges and barriers to establishing public-private partnerships. Challenges discussed included customer acquisition risk (the length of time taken to retain customers for energy technologies) and the long time horizons for energy technologies to mature into commercial products. Solutions to these challenges included:
- Access to the National Labs' state-of-the-art facilities.
- A pipeline of commercially viable early-stage energy technologies.
- Ability to use the human capital within the National Labs.
Conclusively, the Energy Investor Roundtable was a success and catered perfectly to the 2017 Earth Day Texas theme of progress, hope, and innovation for conscious business- and community-driven sustainable solutions. The Department of Energy will continue to serve in its mission “to ensure America's security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.”