4:19 p.m., Dec. 14, 2010----Creating environmentally friendly high technology jobs for Delawareans was the focus of the “Creating the Clean Energy Economy” conference, held Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 13-14, at the University of Delaware's Clayton Hall.
The conference, attended by some 250 leaders of government, business and academia, included a series of workshops highlighting the potential of clean energy initiatives to create jobs and address long-term environmental challenges.
During his keynote luncheon talk, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell noted that the state “has the people who understand the values that these technologies offer. They understand how to work with the business community and they understand what the business community is looking for from its partners.”
State government, Markell said, must partner with business and academia to create a workforce and an environment that is attractive to those making decisions about where to locate new facilities, such as the a new sustainable office building under construction at DuPont's Chestnut Run site near Wilmington.
“They have lots of choices about where they are going to make their investments,” Markell said. “When people like Ellen [Kullman, CEO of DuPont] take a dispassionate view and come to the conclusion that Delaware is the best place to make these investments, we are proud and we hope they continue to do this.”
For Markell, the urgency to find new ways to bring new jobs to Delaware via a clean energy economy was heightened during a recent visit to energy technology workplaces in Asia.
“A few weeks ago, I went to China and Taiwan and I saw things that challenged me in a whole new, firsthand way,” Markell said. “These countries are playing to win. Anybody who thinks that globalization is about trying to take manufacturing jobs away from the United States is dead wrong. That is not what this is about. These countries want the very best jobs, and they are doing everything they can to get them.”
Markell said that for Delaware to compete effectively in the global clean energy marketplace the state will need accountability, innovation, utilization of its manufacturing infrastructure and workforce development, and:
- A highly responsive government;
- Predictability in regulations;
- Reasonable taxes;
- Great schools, including institutions of higher learning;
- A well-trained workforce;
- A great quality of life; and
- The restoration of manufacturing capability -- building the economy by actually building things.
“It's not just about new companies and new technologies, but it is really about strengthening the entire economy by applying our traditional strengths to create real economic opportunities,” Markell said. “With the talent that we have in this room and across the state, I absolutely believe that we can become a leader in clean energy.”
In introducing Markell, Kullman said that decreasing America's dependency on fossil fuels is a key ingredient in making the transition to a clean energy economy.
“The price and supply fluctuations of fossil fuels have the tremendous potential to whip the economy,” Kullman said. “We also cannot forget conservation. We at DuPont look forward to working with our partners in Delaware to create a sustainable future.”
Welcome and workshops
University President Patrick Harker welcomed attendees, including Markell, Kullman, U.S. Sen. Thomas Carper, former U.S. Sen. Edward “Ted” Kaufman, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, U.S. Rep. John Carney and Secretary Collin O'Mara of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
“Today's panel participants comprise a who's who of the people driving energy, science, policy and innovation in Delaware, the region and beyond,” Harker said. “Truly there are few issues on the national landscape that require as much creative thought and innovative collaboration as growing an economy powered by renewable energy.”
Providing an overview of conference themes and objectives, Michael Klein, director of the UD Energy Institute, said, “Clean energy is the grand challenge of the United States, and this is the nexus where opportunity meets needs. The talent that we have will develop the new technology that will power the new economy for the region and the nation.”
In a panel moderated by Dan Rich, University Professor of Public Policy, John Byrne, director of the UD Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, joined Kaufman and Thomas Connelly, DuPont executive vice president for technology, to discuss the implications of clean energy on the global economy.
“We must make significant decisions, and these will only be made more difficult if we delay them. The choice is between clean versus unclean energy. If we choose the latter, it will be impossible not to send to our grandchildren a warmer planet,” Byrne said.
“Change will take time, but if we can combine sound technology with sound policy, Delaware will be able to play a significant role in this future,” Connelly said.
“Ultimately, we need to put a price on carbon, and this will enable market forces to drive market resources,” Kaufman said. “The United States can and must be a leader in clean energy policy in the future.”
In a panel moderated by Mark Barteau, UD senior vice provost for research and strategic initiatives, Carper joined Robert Birkmire, director of the UD Institute for Energy Conversion, and Dirk Matthys, chairman and CEO of Gamesa Technology Co., to discuss the federal role in creating a clean economy.
“We need to think about how to harness market forces to drive good public policy decisions,” Carper said. “We have a great opportunity to create jobs that produce energy in a way that is less dangerous to produce and to our environment. If we are real smart, we can do what we do best in Delaware, and that is to work together.”
Monday's events also included a panel discussion on “Creating Delaware's Clean Energy Economy” that featured a presentation by O'Mara and a panel discussion on “The Labor Market for Delaware's Clean Energy Economy,” moderated by Harry Williams, president of Delaware State University.
On Tuesday, Dec. 14, conference attendees participated in a variety of workshops on such topics as “Transportation in a Clean Energy Economy,” “Growing Renewable Energy,” “Creating Clean Energy Businesses and Jobs” and “Challenges on the Path to a Clean Energy Economy.”
Article by Jerry Rhodes
Photos by Ambre Alexander, Evan Krape and Kathy Atkinson