Can Bill Gates Do for Clean Energy What He Did for Personal Computing? A Windmill in Every Backyard?
The big guys have come to play. They have brought the balls and the rules of the game but they have to find willing players. Can they do it? We’ll see but they are making the noise to get people’s attention. Bill Gates was making the talk show circuit with an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” on June 13. The big guys (and one gal, sorry Ms. Burns!) are the leaders of some of the largest corporations in the U.S. and they have banded together to create the American Energy Innovation Council (AEIC). The members are impressive and consist of:
Norman R. Augustine, Former Chairman, Lockheed Martin and Former Undersecretary of the Army
Ursula M. Burns, Chairman and Chief Executive Xerox Corporation
John Doerr, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Bill Gates, Co-Chairman, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Chairman, Microsoft
Chad Holliday, Former Chairman and CEO, DuPont and Chairman, Bank of America
Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO General Electric
Tim Solso, Chairman and CEO Cummins
With that lineup, they should be able to get people to listen! Their goals for American energy are straightforward:
1. Fuel the American engine to compete in the global market for energy and energy technology. Create modern industries with modern jobs.
2. Power the domestic economy with clean, affordable energy.
3. Reduce national security threats from disruption of energy sources, whether domestic or international.
4. Protect public health and mitigate the very real threat of climate change.
To meet these goals, they have a comprehensive plan with five recommendations. The recommendations are:
1- Create an independent national Energy Strategy Board
2- Invest $16 billion per year in clean energy innovation
3- Create Centers of Excellence with strong domain expertise
4- Fund ARPA-E at $1 billion per year
5- Establish and fund a New Energy Challenge Program to build large-scale pilot projects
Having seen innovation happen in areas such as defense, health, agriculture and information technology industries, these titans have realized that the secret ingredient is money. Government money. If money can’t buy love, they feel it can surely buy some solutions to the energy crisis. At least they have a plan, which is more to say than what we have going on right now in this country. Can it work? I don’t know but let’s hope that we don’t run up against the blue screen of death fatal error.
The AEIC report that outlines the plan and the recommendations can be downloaded here.