Vice President Joe Biden spoke about clean-energy partnerships between government labs and private companies at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (Credit: Dennis Schroeder)

GOLDEN, Colo. - America, with its entrepreneurial spirit and innovative national labs, will lead the global clean-energy revolution and reap the economic and environmental benefits that go with it, Vice President Joe Biden stated in a visit to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

But that will happen only if partnerships between national labs and the most innovative start-ups are encouraged and allowed to blossom, he said.

New initiatives from the DOE are making it easier for small but innovative companies to access technologies developed at the national labs, he said. Now, those technology licenses are just $1,000, so cost is no longer a barrier, he noted.

NREL and other national labs will provide the spark, and private companies will use the efficiencies of the market to commercialize the best clean-energy innovations, Biden told an overflow crowd at NREL’s Golden, Colo., campus.

“Now, more than ever, America’s future competitiveness depends on our ability to innovate and our capacity to live up to our rich history of technological advancement,” said Biden. “This kind of public-private partnership fosters extraordinary innovation, allows brilliant ideas to develop, and gives businesses the tools they need to bring technology to the market.”

Biden prompted a standing ovation from a crowd of scientists and policy makers when he declared, “Science is back,” as a crucial player in American innovation.


Using the government to spark innovation is as American as apple pie, Biden said.

He noted that President Lincoln issued government bonds to help get the Transcontinental Railroad built - and now railroads are a $300 billion-plus industry.

President Eisenhower used government aid to help push to the market the innovations from the Argonne National Laboratory that sparked a revolution in telecommunications.

When President Kennedy announced a national initiative to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, neither he nor most of the scientists hired for the effort could imagine that the space mission would launch the semiconductor industry, which in turn launched the personal computer, which made possible the Microsofts, Apples, and Googles of the world, he said.

Similarly, he said, no one today can guess what will emerge from what is being developed at NREL and commercialized by private industry.

Publication date:05/30/2011