WASHINGTON – An effective national energy policy will be a greater challenge to the U.S. government and technology sector than some of the country’s most storied scientific achievements, venture capitalist John Doerr said Wednesday.
As part of a day-long blitz of Capitol Hill offices, Doerr and other members of TechNet, a nationwide network of tech CEOs, introduced policy recommendations for the development and adoption of new energy technologies, the use of renewable energy sources and environmental protections.
“The Apollo and Manhattan projects fail to capture the scale and magnitude of this challenge,” Doerr said at a National Press Club luncheon, noting the world needs to reduce greenhouse emissions by 60 percent to reduce avoid raising the earth’s temperature by two degrees.
“This is really a big problem and a big opportunity.” That opportunity, Doerr said, is ripe with potential profits for tech companies. “We all agree you make green when you go green,” he said.
K.R. Sridhar, the founder and CEO of Bloom Energy, also praised the economic potential available in energy technology, calling the field the “single greatest growth opportunity out there.” But, he warned, America is not assured of global leadership without heavy government involvement.
“The other countries are not standing still,” he said. “They are giving out subsidies and moving ahead.”
Among the many proposals rolled out by the TechNet, the executives called for doubling federal funding for basic energy research, designating a lead federal agency to elevate and oversee the energy research, enhancing the government’s role as a purchaser of new energy technologies and public/private partnerships.
TechNet is also seeking tax reform policies that include increasing the level of incentives to spur new energy technologies, restructuring incentives to allow market signals that drive new technologies and increasing consumer incentives to change patterns of demand.
Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers told the crowd he senses the time is right for government to become involved with the private sector in a sweeping, new energy policy.
“We are at a tipping point,” Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers said. “All across the world, every one of the [lawmakers] we’ve talked to has [energy policy] as one of their top three issues. We’ve got to work with government to do this effectively.”
Aart de Geus, chairman and CEO of Synopsys, agreed with Chambers. “There are moments when tech takes off,” he said. “After Sputnik, there was a massive investment in high tech. Now, we have to translate the [energy crisis] into application.”
TechNet has produced a report on its initiative entitled “Green Technologies: An Innovation Agenda for America.”