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Technology Solutions: In Support of a Clean Energy Economy


Written by Gene Quinn
Patent Attorney & Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc.
Principal Lecturer, PLI Patent Bar Review Course
Posted: September 21, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

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The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and Economic Development Administration (EDA), along with the Clean Energy Group (CEG) and the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, hosted a clean energy policy conference Monday, September 19, 2011, at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Va.

In the wake of the Solyndra scandal many will likely insert their own joke here and marginalize the importance of clean energy solutions. While it is no doubt important to investigate to see whether there was any impropriety involved in the $535 million loan guarantee given to Solyndra, we cannot afford one scandal, no matter how damaging it may be, to deter the U.S. from pursuing alternative energy solutions.  I fear the true legacy of the Solyndra scandal may be to frustrate well meaning and critically important attempts to pursue a clean, green energy economy.  CNET and Politico are respectively reporting that the Solyndra fallout is hurting other solar companies and the Obama green agenda.  We cannot afford to allow this debacle to negatively influence our rightful pursuit of better, cleaner, greener technologies.

We all know about the debates, frequently irrational as they are, about the environment, global warming, climate change and alternative energy.  Falsified data was used for a generation to implicate man as responsible for global warming, but despite the global warming hoax surely we can all agree that polluting less and pursuing alternative energy solutions is a good idea, right?

Of course, despite the reality that researchers fabricated global warming data I am sure those with who prefer to ignore facts and promote their perverted agenda will take issue.  This is emblematic of the problems we face surrounding being good stewards of the environment and rationally doing what needs to be done in a responsible fashion.  Despite cold, hard facts there are so many that want to turn everything into a fanatical argument based on belief, not based on reality.

Undoubtedly in the comments below someone will point out that the UK Parliament absolved those who falsified global warming data.  Before make such a ridiculous argument and putting faith in politicians vested to some extent in the outcome of their own determination, go read the e-mails between researchers yourself.  One said: “The fact is we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”  Another said: ““I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”  So, clearly, the raw data did not show a temperature increase despite what the UK Parliament decided.  Anyone can see that there was a concerted effort to manipulate the data, which was then destroyed so it couldn’t be used by others later to show the falsification.

Those who cling to a belief system that supports their world view, and those that would seek to use an unfortunate and irresponsible loan guarantee to cripple an entire technology sector, are doing no one any favors.  Looking at the ice core data produced by NASA scientists we can see the earth’s temperature has varied widely over time, including during times when there were no humans on the planet.  The real question science ought to be asking and seeking answers for is not whether man is responsible for global warming, but rather why has the temperature leveled off and remained constant only during the last 10,000 years or so.  See Liberal Think Tank Says Patents Are Destroying the Planet (which shows 400,000 years worth of temperature data).  Because of the vilification of anyone who dared question the global warming orthodoxy we are now no closer to answering that or any other crucial question because intelligent debate was blocked and those who held different views of the facts were ridiculed.  It seems we never learn from history.  Isn’t that more or less what happened with Galileo?

Allowing politics, academic elitism that suppresses viewpoints and/or environmental religion to get in the way of asking questions and probing for answers is unforgivable.  Those who know for sure they are right aren’t even worth listening to because history conclusively proves that science fact is a moving target.  Science changes all the time and what was fact one day will be proven wrong another.  That should have been the first clue that the global warming alarmists were incorrect.  They wouldn’t even tolerate dissent on any level, which isn’t exactly the scientific norm.  It should also have been a clue that their dire precitions never came true and that their data and conclusions didn’t seem to jive with the ice core temperature data.

Absolutists miss the objective truths that everyone SHOULD be able to agree upon; namely the climate is changing, we will presumably run out of fossil fuels at some point, fossil fuels are getting more expensive and steps should be taken to pollute our environment less so we can pass on as pristine a planet to our children and grandchildren as possible.  Regardless of whether you want to blindly believe man is solely responsible for global warming or you are smart enough to realize that there are natural causes for climate change that go well beyond anything man could ever inflict upon the earth, all solutions wind up pointing in the same direction.  Bickering about quasi-religious believes is nonsense.  The only rational response is to pursue a responsible energy policy that has as its aim the dawning of a clean, renewable energy economy.  AFter all, what is the harm in polluting less?  And does anyone really believe man is completely blameless in the changing of the climate?

As global demand for energy continues to grow and the price of oil and gasoline continue to rise we must pursue solutions for cleaner, renewable energy. The technology that will ultimately support an alternative energy driven economy is not where we want it to be, if we do not aggressively pursue such technologies and build on early stage successes we will never get to the finish line. Complaining about the fact that the finish line is so far away and the technology incapable of providing a solution today is exceptionally myopic. Nothing worth doing is ever easy and without taking critical first steps the final celebratory steps are simply impossible to take.

In any event, and back to where I started, Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered the keynote address at the conference, titled Boosting the Clean Energy Economy: State, Federal, and Global Partnerships, before policy makers from federal, state, and foreign governments, and industry and academia. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy participated in the conference. The event served as a forum for discussion of the biggest issues facing clean energy development today and ways to overcome these obstacles through more strategic state and federal policy.

At this time when political leaders are going to come under scrutiny for playing politics and giving a connected firm a loan guarantee, we cannot and should not allow the alleged bad actions of a few to deter us from doing the right thing relative to an entire industry.

Below are the substantive, relatively apolitical comments of Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank as prepared for her keynote speech.

At Commerce, we continue to aggressively support entrepreneurs all across America who are developing clean energy and energy-efficiency technologies.

First, the largest potential markets for clean energy technologies lie outside the U.S. Global investment in clean energy totaled over $240 billion in 2010.

We want innovative U.S. companies to be at the forefront of delivering green products and services.

To that end, we’ve launched the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Export Initiative, with an online exporters guide and website, export.gov/REEE, to help green energy companies find new global markets.

As part of this initiative, we’re co-chairing with the Department of Energy, a multi-agency effort aimed at addressing the major export barriers facing U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency businesses.

For example, because financing can be a significant obstacle, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency have teamed up to produce new financing products specific to this sector.

The export program also fits squarely into Commerce’s leadership role in implementing President Obama’s National Export Initiative. The NEI was announced in 2010 and aims to double U.S. exports by 2015, in support of millions of American jobs.

Second, America gets about one-fifth of its electricity from nuclear energy. At Commerce, we’re supporting the U.S. nuclear industry’s endeavors to rebuild its manufacturing base. We’re also working with them to identify the industry’s most pressing trade challenges and coordinating efforts to address them.

Third, in 2010, we obligated $26.9 million through the Global Climate Change Mitigation Incentive Fund to support renewable energy, energy efficiency and other projects that help advance the green economy, such as regional economic clusters.

Fourth, through our Green Technology Pilot Program, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has accelerated hundreds of patent applications for green inventions. Earlier patenting of these technologies can help inventors secure funding, create new businesses and the jobs that come with them, and bring vital green technologies to market much sooner.

And finally, our country’s way of life depends on an efficient electric power distribution system. Developing a smart grid is a top priority of this administration.

Working with the private sector, Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is developing standards for a 21st century smart grid that incorporates advanced technologies to achieve unprecedented efficiency, reliability and safety.

These standards facilitate useful interactions so that, for example, “smart” appliances and “smart meters” will tell consumers how much power they are using and at what cost.

These standards will also encourage the development of the infrastructure that will enable the widespread use of plug-in electric vehicles and increase the deployment of clean energy to power homes and businesses.

After consultation with some 600 organizations, NIST identified requirements for smart grid interoperability and security and rolled out Version 1.0 of the Interoperability Framework. And Version 2.0 is on its way.

I’ll close with this. Energy policy is a central and complex subject–the one issue that affects virtually every other, from our economy to our environment to our security.

Today China and Germany both invest more in clean energy than we do, even though we are a larger economy and a substantially larger user of energy.

Leading the world in clean energy is critical to strengthening the American economy and improving national security. We must produce the next generation of technologies.

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Posted in: Energy, Gene Patents, Gene Quinn, Green Technology, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Technology & Innovation, USPTO

About the Author

is a Patent Attorney and the founder of the popular blog IPWatchdog.com, which has for three of the last four years (i.e., 2010, 2012 and 2103) been recognized as the top intellectual property blog by the American Bar Association. He is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course. As an electrical engineer with a computer engineering focus his specialty is electronic and computer devices, Internet applications, software and business methods.

 

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  1. In the meantime, China, the world’s leading supplier of solar (nee-“clean”) systems is choking on the unchecked polution involved in their creation. Doesn’t seem all that green to me. Seems more like a label that politicians can get behind and hide.

  2. Solar power was not, and is never going to be, a realistic solution to the problem of finite fossil fuels or the supposed problem of man-made global warming (even if the latter is anything other than entirely bogus). Nuclear is the only realistic solution. Anyone who denies this is living in a fantasy world. Solyndra, and all other solar projects, are therefore inevitably bound to fail at some point, and can only be maintained through massive subsidies.