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Will We Find the 'Black Swan' of Clean Energy?

This is a unique time in history for energy inventors and entrepreneurs. As the need for clean, scalable sources of energy becomes more important, investors are looking for unique "Black Swan" technologies that could revolutionize the sector. The trouble is, they're not exactly easy to find (or create).

The clean energy sector is full of people making claims about “groundbreaking” and “revolutionary” technologies that will change entire industries. Many of those claims come from people who don't recognize or understand the difficulties in achieving meaningful scale in energy. Some of them come from people who are being intentionally misleading.

But there are thousands of smart, well-intentioned inventors out there developing all kinds of new technologies. The question is: How do investors find these people? And how do we encourage wide-spread innovation without deploying resources to too many duds?

In this podcast, we'll talk to a couple inventors who are riding the new wave of innovation and trying to bring their early-stage technologies to scale. We'll also talk with about the need to be realistic in our view of groundbreaking (if not sometimes completely nuts) inventions.

Kimberly Lau, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, talks about the idea she and some other fellow students are developing to harness "human power generation" in fitness facilities. They're certainly not the first ones to think of the idea — but this group of students is hoping to make it work with a new social-networking twist.

David Doty, founder and CEO of Doty Energy, tells us about his production of “WindFuels,” a variety of hydrocarbon fuels made from wind electricity and recycled carbon dioxide. He'll talk about how the fuel is made and how much it will cost to produce.

Scott Brusaw, president and CEO of Solar Roadways, talks about why putting solar panels on roads could actually be a good idea. He'll tell us how he first got the idea and why he believes the concept could work on a mass-scale.

And Eric Wesoff, an editor and analyst with Greentech Media, describes the fine line that investors and journalists walk when evaluating new technologies. He'll also outline a common mistake that people make when thinking about how to bring new energy technologies to market.

Inside Renewable Energy is a weekly audio news program featuring stories and interviews on all the latest developments in the renewable energy industries.

 

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I am a reporter with ClimateProgress.org, a blog published by the Center for American Progress. I am former editor and producer for RenewableEnergyWorld.com, where I contributed stories and hosted the Inside Renewable Energy Podcast. Keep in to...

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