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Today, as the ARPA-E 2012 summit kicks off, the Pew Charitable Trusts and Americans for Energy Leadership (AEL) announced that our two groups are joining forces to launch Americans for Energy Innovation, a new campaign to strengthen the nation’s commitment to clean energy and technological competitiveness.

Pew’s press release is published here: Pew Clean Energy Program Launches Innovation Initiative

Fact-sheet is published here: Innovation Drives Investment, Job Growth, Manufacturing

In recent years, the expert consensus on the need to expand federal investment in energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) has become increasingly formidable, with a wide range of groups calling to triple the current budget to $15 billion annually.  Yet what has still been lacking is a serious national operation to build broad-based support and translate this consensus into policy reality.

Americans for Energy Innovation will help to fill this critical gap and deliver on the promise of U.S. technological leadership.  Building on AEL’s efforts to date, and collaborating with the broader energy and innovation community, Pew will leverage its extensive national field operation, work with its network of more than 2,000 clean energy businesses, and engage a wide variety of stakeholders to support the optimization and expansion of federal energy RD&D — including entrepreneurs, universities and academics, policy advocates and analysts, business leaders, and investors.

This is an exciting development for AEL and our community.  Since our founding in 2009, AEL has become a leading national group working to advance a federal energy innovation agenda and train the next generation of energy policy leaders.  Even as the first phase of AEL comes to a close, joining forces with the Pew Clean Energy Program will take our efforts to the next level and ensure a long-term commitment to AEL’s mission.  Pew offers a truly unique set of resources to take these efforts forward, and we’re very hopeful about the campaign’s future.

Of course, this is only the beginning, and Pew looks forward to getting started with the broader energy innovation community.  For now, we encourage you to review Pew’s press releasefact-sheet, and innovation webpage, and stay tuned for upcoming developments and opportunities to get involved.

Finally, a big thank you to all of AEL’s colleagues and supporters, and special thanks to the Nathan Cummings Foundation for its generous support.  This wouldn’t have been possible without all your guidance and commitment over the past couple years, and I’m sincerely grateful for everything.  I look forward to our continued work over the months and years ahead.

Many thanks, and onwards,

Teryn Norris
Founder & President
Americans for Energy Leadership

Busting the Myth of the “Clean-Tech Crash”

Over the past few months, we’ve heard growing speculation about the coming “crash” in the clean-tech sector.  Wired published a widely-read piece, “Why the Clean Tech Boom Went Bust,” The New Republic attempted to write Secretary Chu’s obituary, and some analysts expressed understandable concern about the depletion of Recovery Act funds and expiring tax credits.

Now the data is in, and it’s telling a much different story.  Last year, VC investment in U.S. clean-tech companies reached a record high of $4.3 billion, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, and total global investment in clean energy reached a record $260 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.  And despite bankruptcies like Solyndra and Evergreen Solar, the U.S. reclaimed the top spot for global clean energy investment, attracting $56 billion compared to $47.4 billion by China.

For the full story, see Walter Frick’s latest in BostInno, “There is No Cleantech Venture Bust, Sorry Wired,” and ongoing analysis from The Cleantech Group.

Some advocates and pundits hoped the “clean-tech crash” story would serve as a productive wake-up call to ramp up federal investments and reform existing subsidies.  Unfortunately, it has had the opposite effect, pouring more fuel on the Solyndra firestorm, creating misguided perceptions of clean energy as a “failed” industry unworthy of public support, and encouraging some fossil fuel-backed groups to invest millions of dollars in anti-cleantech campaign ads.

Does the federal government need to further optimize its investments in the sector?  Absolutely.  But the time has come to bust the “clean-tech crash” myth and tell the public the truth: the clean energy industry is experiencing robust growth, and with strengthened public-private partnerships to further unleash our innovative and manufacturing capacity, the U.S. is positioned to lead the world in this multi-trillion dollar market opportunity.