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Cathy Zoi: Crank up Cleantech R&D, Tell the Good Stories from the Clean Energy Industry!

2 min. read

Greentechmedia has an excellent post, “DOE’s Cathy Zoi on the Perils of Not Investing in Cleantech R&D,” that is well worth reading.  A few highlights:

*Energy research and development (R&D) spending needs to increase significantly, from its current, “trivial,” 0.3% level.

*According to Zoi, underfunding R&D is “the equivalent to removing an engine from an overloaded aircraft in order to reduce its weight.”  Not smart, and potentially disastrous, in other words.

*The goal for photovoltaics (PV) should be $1 per watt, which would equate to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to Zoi.  That would make PV “genuinely cost competitive…for the whole system.”
*The cleantech industry must “pop in on senators all the time,” as the “oil and gas guys” do now. And when they “pop in,” Zoi adds, they need to “’tell the good stories that are happening in your companies’ to the politicians in D.C.”

This is all excellent advice from someone who definitely knows what she’s talking about.  A short bio of Zoi explains why we say that:

…Zoi served as the Chief of Staff in the White House Office on Environmental Policy in the Clinton-Gore administration, where she managed the team working on environmental and energy issues. She has also served as a manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where she pioneered the Energy Star Program.

Zoi has also worked for several energy-focused organizations, serving as the group executive director at the Bayard Group, recently renamed Landis+Gyr Holdings, which is a world leader in energy measurement technologies and systems; as the assistant director general of the New South Wales EPA in Sydney, Australia; and as the founding chief executive officer of the New South Wales Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA), a $50 million fund to commercialize greenhouse-friendly technology. Under her leadership, SEDA launched the world's first nationwide green power program and the world's largest solar-powered suburb…

In the aftermath of the U.S.-China summit this week, the question is whether the U.S. Congress is going to get serious about jumpstarting a clean energy revolution in this country. Unfortunately, what we’re seeing so far from the new House leadership is not encouraging. On the other hand, clean energy appears to be approaching a “tipping point in many states,” and there are plenty of other positive developments as well. The question is, can people like Cathy Zoi overcome the anti-American-interest crowd, the power of the dirty energy lobby, and the reluctance of some in cleantech to play “full contact” when it badly needs to.