“There’s this amazing thing that we think should happen, which is right now physically impossible. That’s fine. Let’s talk about that. Let’s dig down to the technical gap that needs to be filled to enable that new disruptive pathway to start.”
To truly address climate change, we need to pivot to a zero-carbon economy, and that means finding ways to fuel our energy-dependent lifestyle on energy sources that do not emit any pollutants. But since 77% of our energy still comes from fossil fuels, that’s a very tall order. It requires a lot of innovative thinking, a lot of trial and error, a lot of technical risk, and a lot of money to try new ways of generating power.
Enter ARPA-E, the Advanced Research Program Agency for Energy, which is the innovation arm of the Department of Energy, akin to the renowned DARPA agency in the Department of Defense.
How is ARPA-E reinventing our energy supply?
Listen to Jennifer Gerbi, Ph.D., Deputy Director and Acting Director of ARPA-E explain it in this fascinating conversation with Electric Ladies host Joan Michelson.
- How they are finding and funding technologies that are “right now physically impossible” and helping to make them possible, even real.
- Their mission, processes and unique structure, especially for a government agency, and how being comfortable with ambiguity is crucial to their success.
- How they have managed to attract billions of dollars more in private capital to their projects than the agency invested in them.
- How they deal with the requisite risks, trials and errors of high-stakes, capital-intensive innovation that’s transforming the very foundation of what makes our economy function.
- Plus, insightful career advice ….
“You can’t fear changing things around and it is terrifying leaving a job and finding another job…. So even if you things aren’t going well, just learn from it, use it as this is your school. Okay. Now this is your school about how not to be a boss, or this is your school about how to get people to work together.” Jennifer Gerbi, ARPA-E on the Electric Ladies podcast
Read Joan’s Forbes articles on insights on building an innovative culture from her interview with Dr. Gerbi here and here.
You’ll also want to listen to:
- Anne Kelly, Ceres, on the role of the business community in the clean energy transition
- Lisa Jacobson, Business Council for Sustainable Energy, on the impact of covid on energy and transitioning to a clean energy economy
- Rachel Kyte, CEO, UN’s Sustainable Energy for All program
- Kate Sloan, Southern California Edison eMobility, on how to get 7 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030
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