I recently attended the American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) summit in Aspen, Colorado, which was subtitled "Putting the Green in Green - Monetizing Carbon in the Global Economy." This wasn't a typical event for an energy industry technology analyst like me. I usually end up at events attended primarily by other energy industry insiders - energy and utility company executives, energy technology vendors, and some government and regulatory staff thrown in for good measure. The AREDAY agend
This was a relatively small event with about 200 people in attendance, and many of them were very clearly energy industry outsiders who knew very little about renewable energy but had a real desire to learn more. Since I already know more than most about the topic what, if anything, did I learn?
I'd have to say that the event forced me to think big. So many of the presentations, panels, roundtables and individual discussions that I have are very narrow and specific, focusing on topics like utility customer engagement enabled by the smart grid or the nature of innovation in clean energy. The presenters at AREDAY had the big picture in mind, focusing on how to align polices, investments, education and the media to achieve a low carbon economy. It got me thinking that we need something to tie these two ends of the spectrum together. Think of it as clean energy "middleware". What I'm referring to is the need to think about clean energy on a systems level. In addition to focusing on individual technologies and components like PV, wind, batteries, fuel cells, smart meters and electric vehicles we need to think about how all of these technologies and components will be integrated into a larger process and technology framework. Yes, I know this sounds like the smart grid, but I'm shooting a bit higher with this idea.
So here's the idea. What if IDC Energy Insights, either alone or in partnership with other organizations, did one study a year that cut across all of our clean energy and smart grid coverage areas? Such a systems level study could attempt to uncover the potential opportunities and challenges associated with adopting mulitple clean energy technologies. If this strikes a chord with you please comment on this blog post with your ideas.
And one more thing - here's a shout out to some Colorado-based clean energy companies who were in attendance and are trying to make a difference:
- recycOil LLC
- EarthvisionZ LLC
- Prieto Battery
- Clean Range Ventures