December 08, 2017

A ship passes a windmill offshore power plant in the North Sea off the coast of Norddeich, Germany. (AP/ Frank Augstein)

Hybrid cars. Solar energy. Hydropower. In recent years, the federal government and private companies have both paid a lot of attention to clean energy. But, the future of the industry is uncertain — especially in the U.S. We talk with Carnegie Mellon University professor and Aquion Energy founder, Jay Whitacre, about the advancement of new energy technology.

Three Takeaways 

  • China is going full force when it comes to clean energy. The country’s smog problem is terrible for the environment, but it adds an extra incentive to promote green technologies.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. is losing momentum. Whitacre says the amount of money the federal government dedicates to researching new energy technology is small compared to other countries.
  • Whitacre knows how tough the clean energy market can be. He founded the saltwater-based battery company Aquion in 2009 and raised nearly $200 million from investors. But after some rough patches, Aquion filed for bankruptcy this year.

More reading 

  • The Los Angeles Times reports that the newest tax bill will allow the U.S. to pivot away from clean energy and move back to fossil fuels.
  • Wired says Germany, however, is moving further and further away from fossil fuels like coal.
  • Why are many clean energy startups unsuccessful? Grist says it’s partly because the industry hasn’t fully matured yet.

Support for our coverage of environmental issues and sustainable communities comes from The Kendeda Fund.

innovation hub, pri, Kara Miller, Jay Whitacre, WGBH

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