The Solyndra collapse was a punch to the gut in the Obama administration’s efforts to forge a new green economy, but the administration is making a case that not all the news these days is bad. For instance: five companies that received between $1.5 million and $6 million apiece through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program in 2009 and 2010 have grown that seed money into $100 million in private venture-capital backing.
That fact – offered up by Vice President Joe Biden in a speech at the recent National Clean Energy Summit 4.0 in Las Vegas – was just one nugget accompanying a new assessment from the administration on the nation’s place in the worldwide cleantech derby.
In “Playing to Win: The Global Clean Energy Race,” the administration notes that the United States “invented the photovoltaic solar panel and installed the first megawatt-sized wind turbines.” But in the 21st century that early U.S. lead faded, and now “China leads in installed wind capacity, while Germany leads in installed solar capacity.”
To put the country back into a leadership role, the administration argues, requires investment in deploying new technologies, and the report said that administration-established incentives “have catalyzed more than 16,000 wind and solar projects.” But the White House also said research would have to accompany deployment, and it cited APRA-E as a key component there.
The five ARPA-E-backed companies highlighted by Biden (with details on their work behind the links): Phononic Devices; Primus Power; OPX Biotechnologies; Stanford University; and Transphorm.