May 3 News: The Planet’s Venture Capital Firm, ARPA-E

ARPA-E hopes to revolutionize the economy helping to create strong sustainable and renewable fuel companies. [Marketwatch]

Someplace in America, some very smart scientists are busy revolutionizing our economy.

At least, that’s what a small federal agency — ARPA-E (the Advanced Energy Projects Agency-Energy) — hopes to accomplish by giving a few million dollars to each of hundreds of promising technologies that could change the way the world produces and consumes energy.

Some of these researchers are rushing to invent, perfect and commercialize the technologies that could one day replace petroleum and other fossil-fuels as the world’s dominant energy source.

The hope is that these new technologies could allow us to dramatically cut the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases without hurting economic growth. Indeed, energy costs could be much lower and less volatile. The right mix of technologies could make any country or region entirely energy self-sufficient. …

ARPA-E is almost like a venture capital firm, nurturing many ideas in the hope that one of them will be The Next Big Thing. But ARPA-E isn’t a VC firm; it doesn’t provide all the financing needed to bring a product to market, only the seed money to prove the technology enough to attract private venture capital.

The ARPA-E incubator is already showing some successes: So far, 17 of its projects have attracted follow-up funding from the private sector totaling $450 million. Twelve other projects have started new companies, and 10 more are receiving additional funds from other government agencies.

More on that fast-moving wildfire in Southern California that has now reached the Pacific Coast Highway. [LA Times]

The U.S. delegation to the climate talks in Bonn is advancing a plan that would scrap Kyoto and allow countries to set their own emissions goals — which are likely to be too low to limit warming temperatures. [Reuters]


AP highlights the technological advancements made by fossil fuel extractors, focusing on the disparity between investment in that technology versus renewable energy technology. [AP]

What does clean energy technology investment mean? Some funds are stretching the definition beyond what one might think. [AP]

In Mexico, President Obama and President Nieto said they looked forward to implementing a deal to more easily expand offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. [Reuters]

The Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee set May 9 as the day EPA nominee Gina McCarthy will get a vote. [The Hill]

Wisconisn’s dependence on coal-fired power plants (and stunted wind industry) is catching up with it, according to a new report. [CleanTechnica]


The World Meteorological Organization reported that indeed, record lows in Arctic sea ice are the result of global warming. [Telegraph]

New Mexico State Representatives are skeptical of the supposed unscientific (read: tobacco advocacy and climate denial) of a candidate to lead New Mexico State University. [Las Cruces Sun-News]

Watch the Solar Impulse fly from San Francisco to Phoenix. [Solar Love]