2008 MIT Energy Conference Innovation in energy: New technology at old prices?
An entrepreneurial, dot-com approach is often proposed as being capable of solving the many issues, particularly greenhouse-gas emissions, demand growth, and supply limitations, facing the energy sector. However, the dot-com and the clean-tech environments are quite different. While the internet boom created a new industry in a vacuum, clean technologies must compete against the largest industry in the world, and must do so at the low costs associated with today's energy choices.?The challenge in the energy sector is to provide scalable energy that is cheap, available in abundance and has minimal environmental implications. Today, much research and innovation is focused on marginal improvements in the existing industry. However, a need exists for disruptive changes to address these challenges facing society. ?This panel discusses the innovation-to-commercialization process in energy, the fundamental differences for entrepreneurs in energy compared to other industries, the need for scale, and the requirement for disruptive technologies. The success strategy for startups, research labs, and existing industry is also compared. Further, the session explores the innovation and entrepreneurship solutions to the challenges, and whether enough is being done to fill the innovation-to-commercialization pipeline.