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.
TAEBC 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.