Gigaton Throwdown

Today the “Giga­ton Throw­down” results were released pub­licly in Wash­ing­ton DC with a num­ber of the Obama Administration’s clean tech and green gurus (namely John Hol­dren – direc­tor of the White House Office of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Pol­icy, Van Jones – Obama’s Green Jobs Advi­sor, Cathy Zoi – Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Energy for EE and RE, and David San­dalow – Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Energy for Pol­icy and Inter­na­tional Affairs) and their staff in atten­dance.  But with a name like “Giga­ton Throw­down”, this is obvi­ously not a Wash­ing­ton ini­tia­tive.  It was con­ceived of by a group of Ven­ture Cap­i­tal­ists in Sil­i­con Val­ley who won­dered – beyond whether their invest­ments would make the money – would they make a dif­fer­ence?  So they enlisted the help of other investors, entre­pre­neurs, exec­u­tives and lead­ing aca­d­e­mics, to ana­lyze which clean tech­nolo­gies have the poten­tial to lower green­house gas emis­sions by 1 bil­lion met­ric tons (a giga­ton) per year by 2020.

Of the nine tech­nolo­gies they stud­ied — Bio­fu­els, Build­ing effi­ciency, Con­cen­trat­ing solar power, Con­struc­tion mate­ri­als, Geot­her­mal, Nuclear, Plug in Hybrid elec­tric vehi­cles (PHEVS), Solar pho­to­voltaics, and Wind – they found that seven are “ready to scale up aggres­sively today.” Wind is on track to pro­duce a giga­ton reduc­tion in GHG emis­sions by 2020 at its cur­rent growth rate, but the other tech­nolo­gies would require a 3x expan­sion in invest­ment, bring­ing clean energy invest­ment up to the cur­rent level of invest­ment in fos­sil fuels. They point out that many of these tech­nolo­gies have been widely deployed and proven, but rapid scal­ing will require sta­ble pol­icy sup­port and long-term think­ing on the part of the government.

They deter­mined that these tech­nolo­gies would then be able to meet more than 60% of global energy demand and the scale-up would cre­ate more than 4.5 mil­lion jobs, a vibrant new sec­tor in the U.S. econ­omy, and a clean energy pol­icy that ensures domes­tic security.

The full report and addi­tional mate­ri­als are at: