I sat down with Pulitzer Prize winner, Tom Friedman, just before he delivered a lecture to an expectant Foothill CollegeCelebrity Forumaudience at the Flint Center in Silicon Valley. We discussed his bestselling book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded and why he thinks the U.S. government MUST jump-start the green economy. According to Tom, creating the right ecosystem is key: funding research, setting price signals and creating incentives to encourage green innovation. Tom admitted to some China envy in that regard. (see below or check out the transcript) He also has some thoughtful words on the Van Jones resignation and dealing with loud critics. Are you listening Van Jones?
In this video excerpt, Tom explains his China envy and why he said “Am I a bad guy for wanting to be China for a day?”
I asked him, in light of Van Jones’s resignation (and the climate of such criticism), does he consider himself a bad guy?
Tom has some strong words for his critics….people like Glenn Beck et al: “If you’re criticizing me, God Bless you…I’m not above criticism. My focus is on my ideas with my audience…You may be writing about me, but don’t think for a second I’m going to waste a column on you!”
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Elise Zoli, a partner with Goodwin Procter, is a specialist in energy and clean tech law; and teaches at MIT. I caught up with her at a Fountain Blue Green Transport Event where we discussed two hot areas in clean tech: energy storage and nuclear power. Elise explains the important role of energy storage in making solar and wind energy more reliable; and why she’d like to redefine energy storage to make it sexy. She’s coining a new phrase: “dispatchable renewable power.”
On making energy storage sexy
“Energy storage sounds like something that you don’t want to talk about, something that belongs in the closet. But the idea is to enable renewables (solar and wind) to have a greater chunk of the American demand…integrated storage flattens out the intermittency issues.”
On nuclear power
“The N word is difficult in the context of renewable …but most experts who look at climate change and energy security believe there is a significant role for nuclear. “
On nuclear waste and other impacts
“Nuclear has a favorable balance of environmental impacts. Every technology, even solar and wind, have their externalities. On balance, does it advance our climate change goals? The technology deserves to be considered.”
“For the traveling wave reactor they actually consume waste as fuel. The promise of the technology is to reduce waste…The material will be managed in place as opposed to having a long term waste repository.”
This is Part Two of the interview.
To check out Part One, where Elise explores the government’s role in clean tech and the stimulus package,click here.
The interview was recorded at the FountainBlue Clean Green Transport Conference in Santa Clara on July 6, 2009.
“We’ve received several awards… so it’s not really receiving the award… but the opportunity to network, to meet great minds in Silicon Valley… see people who’ve gone through the same as you’ve gone through…We’ve seen scientists and inventors, visited Microsoft and Intel..we’ve seen people doing some encouraging things…Sometimes you think you are crazy doing this type of stuff, but you see that people are as crazy as you. You have to be crazy to be creative….” (We agreed there were LOTS of crazy creative people in Silicon Valley)
Minutes after his company was picked as the National Award Winner. I sat down with Scott Hublou, co-founder of EcoFactor. His three-year-old start-up has created an energy management systemfor the home that uses weather data to optimize heating and cooling. Scott claims savings of between 20 to 30% are achievable. Sounds pretty attractive in this tough economy, and the judges thought so too.
How did the CleanTech Open and its mentoring help you?
“It forces deep thinking around various different business models. Because there are actual deadlines, it’s kinda like being back in school again where you have to have deliverables… You’re presenting to your peers and potential investors, so you always want to make a good impression… think about sustainability, and good market strategies.”