It may seem surprising that a group of business leaders who are not primarily in the energy field would make a strong statement on energy innovation and the need for a more vigorous public commitment. We have two reasons for speaking out on this issue:
First, the energy challenge is much worse than most people realize. The problem is already imposing a heavy burden on our nation—a burden that will become even more costly. The economic, national security, environmental and climate costs of our current energy system will condemn our children to a seriously constrained future unless America makes significant changes to current policies and trends.
Second, there is vast, but neglected, potential to produce and spread innovation in the energy sector. Most of the technologies that underlie the current energy system were invented decades ago, and are increasingly costly, brittle, and incompatible with a clean future. In almost every realm of energy, we can develop and deploy new technologies that are more efficient, secure, and clean. Technology can be a game changer.
The scale of these threats—and the wealth of opportunities to do better—make the message clear: It is time we invent our future.
In developing a plan for how to do that, we called upon our experience managing large innovation programs in our companies. Our staff read dozens of reports from the field and interviewed another hundred experts. And we took a hard look at what has worked to promote innovation in defense, medicine, information technology and other fields.
We are convinced that America has a great deal to gain from smart, ambitious investments in clean energy innovation. As business leaders, we know how the private sector can be mobilized to attack these problems, but we also know the government must step up to protect the public interest. We set forth here the necessary actions that the public sector must take to unlock the ingenuity and capital of the American marketplace in pursuit of the nation’s clean energy goals.
We hope that the President, Congress, and American public pay heed to the findings we present in this report.