Clean Energy Innovation Reception

Clean Energy Innovation Reception
Jun 14, 2011

About the Speakers


TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Science, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT Director, Center for Global Change Science; Co-Director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change

Ronald Prinn's research interests incorporate the chemistry, dynamics, and physics of the atmospheres of the Earth and other planets, and the chemical evolution of atmospheres. He is currently involved in a wide range of projects in atmospheric chemistry and biogeochemistry, planetary science, climate science, and integrated assessment of science and policy regarding climate change.

He leads the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE), in which the rates of change of the concentrations of the trace gases involved in the greenhouse effect and ozone depletion have been measured continuously over the globe for the past two decades. He is pioneering the use of inverse methods, which use such measurements and three-dimensional models to determine trace gas emissions and understand atmospheric chemical processes, especially those processes involving the oxidation capacity of the atmosphere. Prinn is also working extensively with social scientists to link the science and policy aspects of global change. He has made significant contributions to the development of national and international scientific research programs in global change.


MIT President
Professor of Neuroscience

Susan Hockfield has served as the sixteenth president of MIT since December 2004. A strong advocate of the vital role that science, technology, and the research university play in the world, she believes that MIT can best advance its historic mission of teaching, research, and service by providing robust and sustained support for the ideas and energies of its faculty and students.

A noted neuroscientist whose research has focused on the development of the brain, Dr. Hockfield is the first life scientist to lead MIT and holds a faculty appointment as professor of neuroscience in the Institute's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

Under her leadership, MIT has launched a major Institute-wide initiative in energy research and education and continues to expand its activities at the intersection of the life sciences and engineering, with a particular focus on cancer research. The Institute has also embarked on a sustained effort to strengthen support for student life and learning, including undergraduate curriculum renewal, and is undertaking major campus construction and renovation projects with a combined value of approximately three-quarters of a billion dollars.


Governor of Massachuestts

Deval Patrick was reelected to a second term as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in November 2010, renewing his commitment to expanding opportunity and prosperity in Massachusetts. Governor Patrick's life has charted a path from the South Side of Chicago to the U.S. Justice Department, Fortune 500 boardrooms, and now the Massachusetts State House. In each of these capacities, Governor Patrick has been guided by the advice of his grandmother: hope for the best and work for it.

First elected in 2006 on a platform of hope and change, Governor Patrick entered office propelled by an unprecedented grassroots campaign. Despite a challenging economic environment, the Patrick administration maintained or expanded the state's investment in critical growth sectors while delivering timely budgets and cutting state spending. Governor Patrick funded public education at the highest levels in the history of the Commonwealth and its school reform initiatives earned Massachusetts the top spot in the national Race to the Top competition. And through targeted initiatives that play to the Commonwealth's unique strengths, like his landmark 10-year, $1 billion program to promote the state's life sciences industry, the Governor has positioned the state as a global leader in biotech, bio pharmaceuticals and IT, and as a national leader in clean energy, including making Massachusetts home to the country's first offshore wind farm.

Jennifer Granholm

Former Governor of Michigan
National Spokeswoman for the Pew Charitable Trusts Clean Energy Program

Jennifer M. Granholm was elected governor of Michigan 2002. In 2006, she was re-elected with the largest number of votes ever cast for governor in Michigan. As Governor, Granholm led the state through a brutal economic downturn that resulted from a meltdown in the automotive and manufacturing sectors. She worked relentlessly to diversify the state's economy, strengthen its auto industry, preserve the manufacturing sector, and add new, emerging sectors, such as clean energy, to Michigan's economic portfolio.

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm, who recently joined The Pew Charitable Trusts' Clean Energy Program, traveled to Massachusetts to promote the importance of clean energy innovation and favorable public policy as an engine to grow our state and national economies and create jobs. Governor Granholm brings first-hand experience to the national discussion. During her two terms as governor, she worked to revitalize one of the country's most challenged state economies, partly through attracting clean energy jobs and businesses to Michigan. The Governor enjoyed the opportunity to engage in an open dialogue about how we can grow our clean energy economy in Massachusetts and encourage research, development, and innovation.

About the Reception

David Chandler, MIT NEWS
In a spirited talk at MIT, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm presented a plan for a bipartisan initiative that she said could help the United States regain a world leadership role in the creation of new clean-energy technologies — and the thousands of new jobs that those technologies could provide.

Introduced by her "old pal," Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, and MIT President Susan Hockfield, Granholm spoke at Tuesday's reception on clean-energy innovation. The event was hosted by the MIT Energy Initiative and the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, a program that its co-director, TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Science Ronald Prinn, described as a "unique collaboration between the natural and social sciences."

"At MIT, we're bullish on clean energy," Hockfield said in her introduction. In fact, she said, "bullish is an understatement. We're maniacs about it!" She added that she sees the clean-energy domain as a major area in which to rebuild the nation's economy.

Patrick said his attendance was intended "to celebrate the leadership of MIT" in clean-energy technology. He said the Institute "has gone so far beyond the basic science... to commercialize so many great ideas" in clean energy, and that in today's climate of volatile oil prices, "all the elements align for moving ourselves rapidly to a clean-energy future." He added that in Massachusetts, there has been a 60 percent increase in energy-related employment "during the worst economy in living memory."

Granholm, who now represents the Pew Charitable Trusts' Clean Energy Program, said other countries have been "much more aggressive" than the United States in pushing for clean energy, while this country has "a patchwork" of state policies and no strong national program to promote such technologies. In searching for what Granholm called "pragmatic energy policies that can get bipartisan support" even in the current highly polarized political debate, her organization has identified four specific policy priorities, she said.

First, "a national renewable energy standard" would call for at least 20 percent of the nation's energy to come from renewable sources by 2020, she said. Such a policy "sends a market signal" that would help businesses focus on developing needed technologies.

A second priority, she said, is encouraging more energy efficiency in industrial facilities. She pointed to the example of a French company called Veolia Energy, which develops combined heat and power systems that can be up to 90 percent efficient in using natural gas, the cleanest of all fossil fuels, compared to typical fossil-fuel powerplant efficiencies of around 50 percent. Granholm pointed out that so much energy is wasted in U.S. powerplants in the form of heat that "if you could just capture that waste heat, you could power the entire nation of Japan."

Third, she said, is to push for more electrification of the transportation system — including a 25 percent market share for new electric cars by 2020 — and improved efficiency for non-electric vehicles. That would help spur the growth of companies such as the MIT-spinoff A123 Systems, which is already "hiring hundreds of people" for its new battery factories.

And fourth, she said, is to "increase the amount of money we, as a nation, invest in energy development." ARPA-E, the U.S. Department of Energy's agency for investment in innovative energy technology, currently has a budget of $3.8 billion per year. "If we boost that to $16 billion, we could really be on the map" as a major producer of energy systems, she said.

Granholm pointed out that since 2004, there has been a 630 percent increase in private-sector investment in clean energy worldwide. In 2008, the United States was number one in production of clean-energy technology, but by 2009 China had surged ahead, and in 2010 both China and Germany were ahead of the United States. "Every day, businesses make decisions about where to locate," and without a strong clean-energy policy, the country's competitive position "will continue to ratchet down," she said.

While some people worry that implementing any national policy on clean energy may be difficult right now given the polarized atmosphere in Washington, Granholm said, a recent national survey gives reason for hope. "Eighty-four percent of Americans want to see a national energy policy that encourages renewable energy and efficiency," a number that includes 74 percent of Republicans, and even a majority of Tea Party members, she said.

Patrick said fostering clean-energy technologies "is good for us, it's good for the environment, it's good for the economy, it's good for jobs. So let's get on with it!"