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Cleantech Investor Summit: DOE’s Cathy Zoi on the Perils of Not Investing in Cleantech R&D

Submitted By: Chathri Munasinghe · Wed, 01/19/2011 - 12:56
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Palm Springs, California -- OnGreen.com CEO Nikhil Jain and VP of Business Development Erik Steeb are on hand for the 7th annual Cleantech Investor Summit 2011. http://www.cleantechsummit.com/. It is one of the rare times when the sector’s most influential thought leaders gather to discuss the most critical issues facing the clean-tech sector.

Cathy Zoi of the U.S. Department of Energy spoke with Ira Ehrenpreis of Greentech Media and acknowledged the DOE has had a reputation as stodgy. But Ms. Zoi is anything but stodgy.

"We need to drive down the costs of our technologies," she insists.

She notes that the energy sector has typically devoted a trivial 0.3 percent of their revenue towards Research and Development. Compare that to the four to 15 percent that other industries like pharmaceuticals or IT devote to R&D. She realizes that that number is driven by the electrical utility market structure but she knows that number has to rise.

John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins and other venture investors have suggested that the U.S. needs to invest $16 million to $20 million per year in energy R&D.

Zoi quoted Norman R. Augustine, the Retired Chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin and Former Undersecretary of the Army:

“One thing that is clear based upon my own career in industry and government is that when faced with major challenges of high technological content in a time of austerity, the last thing one should under-fund is R&D…to do so is the equivalent to removing an engine from an overloaded aircraft in order to reduce its weight.”

For more on this story visit: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/cathy-zoi

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