DOE webinar reveals opportunities, challenges in southeast for advancing clean energy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) hosted a “Regional Energy Technology Innovation” webinar in late September inviting leading research universities to present their findings examining the clean energy technology innovation in their respective regions.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-2-43-40-pmThe universities held forums earlier this year and each forum was attended by leaders from federal, state, and local governments; industry, DOE national laboratories; academia; and nongovernmental organizations.

The forums highlighted the differences among regions in terms of their energy needs, resources, and vulnerabilities; customer demands, markets and capabilities. A key conclusion of the regional forums is that clean energy solutions must be tailored to meet regional needs.

These forums were held in part of DOE’s “Mission Innovation.” Mission Innovation is a multinational initiative to dramatically accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation that was announced at the United-Nations climate-change conference in Paris on November 30, 2015.

doeDuring the webinar, six different regions of the U.S. including the mid-atlantic, southwestern, northwestern, northeastern, midwest, and southeastern made presentations and spoke about the key takeaways, opportunities, priorities, challenges and next steps within their regions to achieve the driving force needed for maximum clean energy technology innovation.

The southeastern presentation was done by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The university’s vice chancellor of research and engagement, Dr. Taylor Eighmy, spoke about how the southeast’s area of expertise involved government-university-industry-national lab collaboration as well as rapid innovation and tech to market movement.

Dr. Eighmy said some of the major opportunities for the southeast include supportive state governments and a supportive investment community and innovator ecosystems. The southeast also has a strong industrial influence and their supply chains are beneficial.

According to Dr. Eighmy’s presentation, some of the main priorities and clean energy research and development focus areas for the southeast include advanced manufacturing, integrated grid management, bio-derived fuels and CO2 capture, nuclear energy and sustainable smart communities.

However, one of the greatest challenges the southeast faces in terms of advancing clean energy technology innovation is a need for improved business processes focusing on the speed of connecting industry to science and technology.

As the southeast moves forward, it will direct strategic collaborations tied to regional innovation needs, workforce needs, and especially innovation accelerators and private/foundation investment efforts in the clean energy technology space.

TAEBC Hosts Panel Discussion with Nationally Recognized Energy Innovators

Some of the nation’s most powerful thought leaders in energy innovation convened in Chattanooga late last month, including the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council. More than 150 attendees from universities, industry and federal agencies participated in the Southeast Regional Energy Innovation Workshop.

The forum, designed to advance clean energy technology innovation in the region, was hosted by the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and provided an opportunity to explore ways universities, industries and national labs and other federal agencies can drive rapid innovation of technologies for use in the marketplace.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 9.43.45 PMTAEBC hosted a panel discussion titled Clean Energy Innovations, moderated by TAEBC’s Cortney Piper. Other panelists included Tom King; ORNL; David Wade, COO, EPB; and Platt Boyd, CEO Branch Technology.

The panel addressed such topics as how working with a national lab and regional universities can help solve problems by focusing on a key problem.

Panelists offered the top three best practices to engage with national lab and research universities including:

• Collaborating on a specific problem (for example, grid modernization and 3-D car printing);
• Collaborating on a big problem (organizations need to think on a large scale, engaging and using the appropriate resources);
• Agreeing on a clear objective and clear vision (all parties must agree on the overall goal and outcomes).

Other topics covered during the panel included the existing and potential economic impact on the region from clean energy innovations and the most pressing clean energy question for the Southeast.

Panelists agreed that resources, affordability and reliability remain the most pressing concerns for clean energy development. Participants referenced TAEBC’s Economic Impact Report, reinforcing the fact that Tennessee is well-positioned to become a national and international leader in the $1.3 trillion global advanced energy marketplace.

Overall, the panel concluded that in order for clean energy innovation to continue to expand throughout the region, impact must be demonstrated and investment must be made on full scale deployments to show the impact of new innovations.

In addition to workshops, ORNL announced during the forum that the national lab would be expanding to the Chattanooga area by opening a Downtown office. ORNL Director Thom Mason said that ORNL will continue to partner with EPB, a municipally-owned utility, on researching the performance, security, and efficiency of Chattanooga’s electrical system. This research can be applied to make power systems nationwide cleaner, safer and more efficient.

The Southeast Energy Innovation Workshop further supports TAEBC’s mission of championing advanced energy development in the region, recognizing that the area is uniquely situated with its focus on advanced manufacturing for automotive, aerospace and wind; carbon fiber manufacturing; nuclear energy technology development; grid technology enhancements; microgrids, photovoltaics; materials by design; and energy storage.

TAEBC appreciated the opportunity to lead a discussion during the forum and will continue to participate in similar workshops that support the mission of supporting advanced energy development as an economic driver in the region.

To view photos from the event, click here.

A Booming Advanced Energy Economy, 8.1 Million Jobs and Counting

 As the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council’s Economic Impact Report foretold in 2015, the advanced energy sector has but one direction to move in and that’s up.

A recent report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency – the Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2016 – shows that more than 8.1 million people worldwide are working in the global renewable energy industry. Renewables are one part of the advanced energy sector, but a growing sector at that.

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.20.27 PMAnd, in the U.S., for the first time jobs in solar energy overtook those in oil and natural gas extraction, helping drive a global surge in employment in the clean-energy business as fossil fuel companies began experiencing shaky ground.

U.S. solar business grew 12 times faster than overall job creation. Solar jobs are bolstered by state initiatives to spur clean energy development, leading to employers adding workers at record rates to install rooftop panels. In contrast, oil and gas producers have slashed 351,410 jobs worldwide since prices began to slide in the middle of 2014.

Globally, the workforce in clean energy is expected to grow to 24 million by 2030, if targets on climate change and development are met.

What does this translate to locally in Tennessee and the Southeast?

Tennessee, rich in advanced energy resources, is poised to continue rapidly expanding upon the nearly 325,00 advanced energy jobs, supported by more than 17,000 firms within the state.

As TAEBC Charter members and research assets, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee, along with private sector innovators continue to research, develop and produce new ways to meet energy demands, Tennessee will undoubtedly lead the new energy economy.

The TAEBC Economic Impact Report showed that advanced energy requires skilled workers, serving as a primary source for high quality jobs. Manufacturers benefit from a robust advanced energy sector while advanced energy contributes significantly to state and local economies.

Tennessee is well-positioned to keep pace with the international trend, serving as a key contributor to a booming global advanced energy economy.

Source: Bloomberg CleanTechnica

UT’s EcoCar 3 National Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition Challenges Redesign of 2016 Chevrolet Camaro

by Emily King, UT graduate student and communications manager for EcoCar 3 team

The University of Tennessee participates in EcoCAR 3, which is a four-year national advanced vehicle technology competition (AVTC) sponsored by General Motors and the DOE and managed by Argonne National Lab. EcoCAR 3 challenges 16 universities across North America to redesign a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro to reduce its environmental impact but maintain the performance characteristics expected from such an iconic American performance vehicle. UT_EcoCAR3_Camaro

While most of the students are engineering students, EcoCAR 3 is multi-disciplinary to reflect how a car company works in the real world, including students from the College of Engineering, who design and build the car, from the Haslam School of Business, who do project management for the team, and students from the College of Communication and Information, who organize outreach, media relations and public relations for the team. UT’s participation in EcoCAR 3 marks its involvement in 16 AVTCs since the competitions began in 1989.

Because the AVTCs so closely reflects how car companies work, many EcoCAR 3 graduates are hired by car companies before they even graduate from their undergraduate degree. Employers come to the EcoCAR 3 teams asking to hire soon-to-be-graduates because the companies are so confident in the skills that EcoCAR 3 instills in the engineers. UT’s AVTC graduates enter the workforce with the engineering skills to be good at their jobs and the drive to think innovatively and push the direction that American car companies are taking to strengthen their sustainable transportation research and development.

The real success of EcoCAR, and all of the AVTCs that UT has participated in, is not what place the teams come in for the competition (although the closer to first, the better!) but is instead in how many of the alumni are hired in their field of study and how they lead innovative work in the future. Our AVTC graduates continue to support current AVTCs at the university because they believe in continuing these opportunities for generations of engineers to come.

To learn more about EcoCAR 3 and Team Tennessee, visit www.ecocar3.org and follow Team Tennessee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

TAEBC members participate in Knoxville Entrepreneur Roundtable

Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council members Mary Shafer Gill of ARiES Energy and Tom Ballard of Pershing Yoakley & Associates participated in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Roundtable on November 7, 2014 at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

The panelists discussed how startup companies succeed and what factors are influencing entrepreneurship in the area. Perhaps the most captivating questions of the afternoon: “How can Knoxville grow into becoming the South’s mecca for entrepreneurship?”

Click here for a recap of the Roundtable, as told through the eyes of Cameo Jonas, a University of Tennessee student who attended the event.