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Momentous Day for EPA

Photo courtesy of Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

By Ken Root

This could be a momentous day as the EPA has reached the statutory deadline to release its Ethanol volume standard for blending with Gasoline in the years of 2014, 2015, and 2016…and yes, we all realize that only one month remains in this year so the only real number, it stated by EPA will be for 2016….The agency is expecting to be sued by either the oil industry or the ethanol industry depending who is “gored” by its decision.

Also today, the President of the United States is in Paris for a global climate summit.  You may be watching those events on TV as Europe is 6 hours ahead of central time.

It seems Ironic that ethanol was billed by President Bush as a great step forward in curbing global warming only to later be vilified by the Oil Industry and the state of California as having a larger carbon footprint than fossil fuels that claim is still in dispute.

But it seems clear that government has to shield new industries long enough for them to get a foothold in producing clean energy.  If not, the current production system will snuff them out at the first opportunity.

As part of today’s activities at the Climate Summit,

A new initiative will be launched to bring new innovation in clean energy to the forefront and it’s backed by some of the biggest foundations in the world.

Today in Paris, President Obama, French President Hollande, and other world leaders will launch Mission Innovation, a landmark commitment to dramatically accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation. Through the initiative, 20 countries representing 80 percent of global clean energy research and development (R&D) budgets are committing to double their respective R&D investments over five years. According to a white house news release, These additional resources will dramatically expand the new technologies that will define a future global power mix that is clean, affordable, and reliable.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition, an independent initiative launched simultaneously with Mission Innovation and spearheaded by Bill Gates, is a global group of private investors that will take the risks that allow the early stage energy companies that emerge from the research programs of Mission Innovation countries to come out of the lab and into the marketplace.

Scientists involved with the project say that Accelerating clean energy innovation is essential to achieving the goal of limiting the rise in global temperatures to less than 2˚C.  While significant progress has been made in cost reduction and deployment of clean energy technologies, the pace of innovation and the scale of transformation is falling far short of what is required.  Mission Innovation and the Breakthrough Energy Coalition constitute a public-private effort to accelerate the research and development of affordable clean energy technologies efforts and support a new generation of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition is a group of 28 influential investors from 10 countries committed to providing patient, early stage capital that will take innovative technologies from the world’s great laboratories and build them into energy solutions at scale.

The group of 20 countries launching Mission Innovation spans the globe and accounts for over 80 percent of global clean energy R&D today.

These countries have also committed to regularly reporting on their progress towards the goals they have laid out as part of Mission Innovation.

The initiative remains open to participation from other countries.

In the past, too often energy technologies have not crossed the investment “valley of death” where there was little funding to develop ideas because the risk profile and long return time horizons.  While the Breakthrough Energy Coalition is an independent effort and not formally affiliated with Mission Innovation, it is committing to bridge that valley of death for those technologies developed in the countries that sign up for Mission Innovation and have the best chance of providing affordable energy that is reliable to everyone.

As part of its contribution to Mission Innovation, the U.S. Government will seek to double its current level investment in clean energy research and development over five years. New funding will initially be strategically allocated to early stage research and development, which offers the

some of the greatest opportunities for breakthroughs and transformative change. The current the U.S. Government investment portfolio of more than $5 billion spans the full range of research and development activities – from basic research to demonstration activities (RD&D).  The U.S. Government investment portfolio includes programs at 11 agencies with the largest investment at the Department of Energy (DOE).  These programs address a broad suite of low carbon technologies, including end use energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear energy, electric grid technologies, carbon capture and storage, advanced transportation systems and fuels. At DOE, these programs are implemented through a number of mechanisms including cost-shared projects with the private sector research and development activities at the National Laboratories, grants to universities, and support for collaborative research centers targeted to key energy technology frontiers. Additional country commitments can be found at www.mission-innovation.net.