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ARPA-E: The Agency That Funds Green Ideas of the long run

13 Sep

Why was the 20 th century the yankee century? It certainly helped that the U.S… — unlike almost about another major power in Europe or Asia — didn’t endure a ruinous war on its home territory. American agriculture kept our population growing and well fed, while abundant natural resources like oil, coal and iron helped power our economy. However the foundation of yank power and influence was superior innovation. Before we won military, economic or political battles, we won knowledge battles. The electrical lightbulb, the mass-produced automobile, the airplane, the private computer, the web — homegrown American innovators produced the brand new ideas and the brand new products that, to make use of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union slogan, won the future.

Lately, though, we’ve lost confidence within the American ability to innovate — especially on clean energy, the defining technological and economic challenge of the following several decades. Homegrown solar companies are falling behind cheaper Chinese competitors, while European firms have taken the lead on energy efficiency and other renewables. The U.S… imports increasingly more oil every year, while the institutions that experience kept the rustic stocked with homegrown minds — great public schools just like the University of California — are bleeding to death from budget cuts. Politicians and the general public may worry in regards to the waning economy and high unemployment today — a up to date NBC/Wall Street Journal poll had 73% of american citizens saying the rustic was moving into the inaccurate direction — but when we lose our innovation edge, we’ve lost the century. (See if Obama is bad for the environment.)

Arun Majumdar says that does not need to happen. Majumdar is the primary director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), and he might need the most productive job in government. ARPA-E is encouraged by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the well-funded military think tank that’s helped invent everything from the GPS system to the web — and its job is to fund the type of transformative technologies that might really change the way in which we use energy. That’s good for the worldwide environment — we want cleaner and more abundant power to feed a growing population on a shrinking planet — but it’s good for the U.S… economy too. “THERE IS A global competition going on, and speed is of the essence,” Majumdar told an audience last week at an energy conference placed on by the innovation network PopTech in Ny city. “THE LONGER TERM is up for grabs.”

Majumdar — an energy expert who worked on the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory before taking up ARPA-E in 2009 — sees the energy challenge in a global, holistic way. On one hand, climate change and resource scarcity signifies that we need to develop new and cleaner sources of energy — otherwise we’ll either cook ourselves or just run out of juice, whichever comes first. But there also are hundreds of millions of latest consumers around the globe who lack the energy they should live — meaning our power mix doesn’t just must get cleaner, it must get cheaper too. That’s a huge problem, and it will require serious innovation. “WE HAVE TO enable people to grow their economies and technologies in a sustainable way,” Majumdar says. “The technologies to do this don’t exist today.”

That’s where ARPA-E is available in. Venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and bureaucrats in Washington can help fund new companies that improve on existing technologies and are just about commercialization — think energy-efficient software and more productive solar panels. But ARPA-E funds this type of ideas — from university groups and early start-ups — which can be removed from turning profit today but which might repay enormously sooner or later. “WE PREDICT of ourselves as preventure funders, [ideas] which might be too risky for VCs,” says Majumdar. (Read in regards to the debate between green jobs and brown jobs.)

Some of essentially the most promising ideas on their plate include:
• Electrofuels that may use custom-designed microbes to transform carbon dioxide into liquid biofuels compatible with today’s transport infrastructure.
• Superior batteries that may be as much as 10 times more powerful than today’s popular lithium-ion cells, with the purpose of manufacturing batteries that would make electric fully vehicles competitive with gasoline-powered cars.
• The SunShot Initiative — shades of Kennedy’s moon-shot pledge — which promotes technologies that would lower the price of solar energy to five cents a kilowatt-hour, cheap enough to compete easily with fossil fuels.
• A smarter, more powerful electrical grid that would seamlessly store the facility generated by the sun or the wind — enabling renewable power to fulfill around-the-clock demand.

Most…


Source: TIME.com: Top Stories

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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Dating

 

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