All signs point to ‘clean technologies’ as a bright spot in an otherwise troubled economy: Federal commitments to double renewable energy use in three years and put a million plug-in hybrid vehicles on roads by 2015. Billions in new government research funding available, along with record levels of venture capital investment. Public concerns over energy costs and the environment fueling demand. Today, energy and manufacturing industry executives, state officials and civic leaders came together to announce a new Indiana-based initiative focused on the ‘cleantech’ sector.
The Energy Systems Network (ESN) is a partnership of private firms, research institutions and public agencies focused on bringing new energy technologies to market, leveraging Indiana’s strong manufacturing sector, R&D capabilities, and heritage of engineering advanced energy systems. Private and institutional investors have already pledged nearly $1.5 million to support the ESN’s activities over the next two years.
Governor Mitch Daniels said the effort will assist in meeting the global challenges of energy and the environment.
"Indiana is already leading the nation in its pursuit of clean energy, from wind farms and biofuels to clean coal technology, and we have companies working on nearly every component of hybrid and plug-in vehicles,” said Daniels. “This initiative will play a pivotal role in matching Indiana's strengths to opportunities for more jobs and investment.”
Joe Loughrey, retiring Vice-Chairman of Cummins Inc., will chair the ESN initiative.
“Our goal is to identify opportunities and put together partnerships to create the cutting-edge energy technologies that the market is demanding, and then produce as many as possible right here in Indiana,” said Loughrey.
The ESN also reflects the national attention that Indiana is attracting as a center of energy innovation. Its leadership includes executives from international energy industry players, such as James Rogers of Duke Energy and Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute.
“The energy industry is facing national and global challenges,” said Rogers. “We will only be successful in meeting these challenges by working collaboratively in private-public partnerships like the ESN. These efforts will ensure that the smart grid, plug-in vehicles and other initiatives aimed at increasing energy efficiency and reducing our environmental impact become a reality. The ESN can be a catalyst for creating such partnerships in Indiana and across the country.”
In addition to Loughrey serving as chair, the Energy Systems Network Board of Directors includes:
- James E. (Jim) Rogers – Chairman & CEO, Duke Energy
- Jeff Owens – President & CEO, Delphi Safety and Electronics
- Charles Gassenheimer – Chairman & CEO, Ener1 Corporation
- Mike Hudson – President, I-Power Technologies
- John Waters – President & CEO, Bright Automotive
- Amory Lovins – Chairman & Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute
- France Córdova – President, Purdue University
- Thomas Snyder – President, Ivy Tech Community College
- Mark Miles – President & CEO, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership
University participation in the Network is critical, both as a source of R&D innovation and to prepare a skilled workforce for tomorrow’s careers in the cleantech sector.
“The clean technologies industry is a tremendous opportunity for Indiana,” said Tom Snyder, President of Ivy Tech Community College. “Ivy Tech is excited to play a role in connecting Hoosiers with jobs in this sector, and providing its firms with the human capital they need to grow.”
Paul Mitchell, former policy advisor to Governor Daniels, will serve as President & CEO of the ESN. According to Mitchell, the Network is already pursuing two specific projects: The Hoosier Heavy Hybrid Partnership is focused on bringing more cost effective light, medium, and heavy duty hybrid trucks to market. Project Plug-IN will integrate plug-in electric vehicles and ‘smart grid’ technologies for a green transportation solution for Central Indiana commuters in a unique large-scale pilot project.
“Indiana has the corporate and institutional assets to pursue a number of promising cleantech projects, with a coordinated, collaborative approach,” said Mitchell. “The Hoosier Heavy Hybrid Partnership and Project Plug-IN are two of the most mature of what we believe to be a strong pipeline of market opportunities for Indiana.”
The ESN is an initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP), the regional economic development alliance that also sponsors successful efforts focused on the life sciences (BioCrossroads), manufacturing and logistics (Conexus Indiana) and information technology (TechPoint). CICP has explored the cleantech opportunity for nearly two years, with support from national consultants like the Rocky Mountain Institute. CICP chair Dan Evans, President & CEO of Clarian Health, noted that cleantech was an obvious addition to its list of priority industry clusters.
“As we conducted our due diligence on our cleantech sector, we asked two fundamental questions,” said Evans. “First, does Indiana have unique strengths that allow us to take a leadership position, and does the industry have long-term growth potential? We’re able to answer both with a resounding ‘yes.’”
More details on the Hoosier Heavy Hybrid Partnership, Project Plug-IN, and other ESN initiatives will be released in weeks to come. Additional information is available online at http://www.cincorp.com/energysystemsnetwork/.