Tonko Heads RPI Public Forum On Renewable Energy Manufacturing

Sep 2, 2014

The Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy was in Troy today to discuss the Capital District’s role in the clean energy sector. 

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Dr. David Danielson, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, stopped by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Bruggeman Conference Center, where he cited several Tech Valley institutions like Albany’s NanoCollege.

"If you look at the work at CNSE, if you look at the work, the spin-out from RPI coming out of the incubator and the work here, some of the great work going in in LEDs, fuel cells across the board at this university. The work we have at GE. GE spinning out a new fuel cell company - NYSERDA being in this district. This area is really leading the charge. I'd say in the top four or five. There are four or five poles of clean tech activity that I'm familiar with. I'd say this is right there with them. I'm really excited to be here. I have a really simple and singular purpose. I wanna build bridges with your community.”

With Rensselaer, a hotbed of activity for technological advances, as the backdrop, Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko hosted the discussion about the area's role as a national leader in clean energy manufacturing, workforce development, and building an innovation economy for the 21st century. Tonko is a former head of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.   "We need to put ourselves in that mindset of energy efficiency as our fuel of choice and renewable energy as one of those segues to a clean energy economy that speaks to sound energy policy, tremendous environmental stewardship, and certainly national security, as we wean ourself off this gluttonous dependency on fossil-based fuels."

Danielson says clean energy technology has taken center stage.    "Solar is dropping below $3 - $2 to  $2.50 a watt in many parts of the U.S. It has to get to a dollar to be directly cost competitive. LEDs are less than $10 a bolt at WalMart. Batteries are dropping like a rock."

Danielson and Tonko stressed the importance of research. Danielson said "universities have a unique role to play in fostering startups." Tonko noted the Capital Region is "one of the hottest pieces of real estate in the country for emerging technology and renewable energy.”   "Certainly from my perspective on energy and commerce, we've gotta get over the thinking that there's failure in research. Failure is the down payment to our successes."

The Congressman promises to continue the dialogue on why the Capital Region's highly skilled workforce and internationally-respected academic and research institutions make the area the perfect place for investment in America’s energy future.