September 01, 2011

Recapping the National Clean Energy Summit 4.0

This week, leaders from industry, government and research
institutions gathered in Las Vegas for the National
Clean Energy Summit
. The day-long event featured addresses from Vice
President Joe Biden, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Secretary of the Navy Ray

On Tuesday, Vice President Biden emphasized the need to “unleash
the innovative potential in the clean energy sector in order to compete with
countries like China that are already making huge investments in their own industry
so they can compete globally. “This
is our generation’s Sputnik moment
,” President Obama said in his State of
the Union Address earlier this year. “If
we don’t develop renewable energy, we will make the biggest mistake in this
nation’s history
,” Vice President Biden told the Las Vegas audience.

The administration has continued to support its vision for a
clean energy future, most
recently by authorizing the Departments of Agriculture, Defense and Navy to
invest $510 million over three years to stimulate the biofuel industry
“The combined effort of these three departments is a powerful force that will decrease
U.S. dependence on foreign oil, position American companies to be global
leaders in the production of advanced drop-in biofuels, and create jobs for
American farmers and American companies
,” Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said
on Tuesday.  

For its part, the military – most notable the U.S. Navy – is
testing biofuel blends in its aircraft fleet in an effort to wean itself from
its dependence on conventional liquid fuels. Last Wednesday, the U.S. Navy
expanded its alternative energy program by
testing a 50/50 blend of JP-5 jet fuel and camelina biofuel in a T-45 training
. On Tuesday, Secretary Mabus announced that the Navy’s next big milestone
will be met this weekend when all six of the Navy’s Blue Angels perform on a
50/50 biofuel blend at the Pax River Labor Day Air Show. “This will be the
first time an entire unit has flown on a biofuel mix
," Mabus told the

The event received widespread coverage, which is always
great to see. And for me, it was great to see the administration and the
military discussing its efforts outside of the Washington echo chamber. Indeed,
by moving the conversation beyond Washington, there is some hope that industry,
government and research leaders can grow the constituency for clean energy
technology and help put the United States on more secure footing by moving us
toward a future with a much more diverse energy portfolio.