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Arun Majumdar thinks the energy frontier poses the greatest of challenges and opportunities for America today.

And he proved it, in a passionate, sometimes electrifying speech before his organization’s crown jewel event, the ARPA-E Innovation Summit now going on just outside Washington.

In riveting detail, he chronicled some of the 180 projects his agency has funded since its launch two years ago inside the Department of Energy. The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy has backed 180 projects with $521.7 million in awards. It strategically targets efforts that could be game-changing – and that might otherwise flounder for lack of private seed money.

Majumdar will be one of the featured speakers at the “Harnessing Disruption” EnergyBiz Leadership Forum in Washington March 19-21.  He will be the concluding speaker along with Bob Foster, currently the mayor of Long Beach, Calif. and a past utility industry exec, and Sen. Byron Dorgan, one of the most thoughtful leaders on energy policy in Congress in recent years.

At his own summit today, Majumdar reminded everyone that the $1 trillion grid is an aging machine, with the average age of transformers topping 42 years. One ARPA-E funded company is working on using silicon carbide transistors to create a 100-pound, suitcase-sized transformer that would do the work of today’s 8,000 pound transformer elephants.

Another company, Majumdar said, is exploring the use of a human enzyme that transports carbon dioxide in our cells to help revolutionize the chemistry – and cost – of capturing carbon dioxide in power plant smoke stacks.

Florida researchers are bio-engineering pine trees to bring about a six-fold increase in the production of terpenes – and bring the cost of bio-fuels to less than $3 a gallon.

California researchers are trying to alter tobacco leaves to improve on the manner in which algae produces oil.

Alternative fuels are important because it is harmful for the United States to continue to spend $1 billion a day to import foreign oil, Majumdar said.

“This is our time,” he concluded. “Let us invent the future together.”

At the EnergyBiz Leadership Forum in less than three weeks, Majumdar will report on some of the most important disruptive technologies on the energy front. That disruption promises to radically improve our lives, create millions of jobs and power the U.S. economy well into the 21st century.

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The EnergyBiz Leadership Forum next month will have nine utility CEOs on hand presenting their views on the hugely disruptive forces they must contend with. Joining them will be Eric Greitens, Navy Seal, business leader and philanthropist and Sen. Byron Dorgan, who is leading the way towards a bipartisan energy policy. The event takes place in Washington March 19-21st. Check out our website for more information or ping me with questions. http://energybizforum.com/

 

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