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In March, at a two-day HBS conference on energy, Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) predicted “a massive domestic green energy industry that is going to be just as great in wealth creation as was the tech revolution in the 1990s.” Markey, chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, was a special guest speaker at the event, billed as a “think tank” and presented by the School’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship and the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University. It brought together dozens of academics, practitioners, investors, and policymakers to discuss the current status and future direction of the energy industry.

Markey recounted his work in the 1990s on legislation that revolutionized the telecom sector by stimulating competition. The cable and satellite dish industries were unleashed, the cellphone industry took off, and broadband was opened up. The result, Markey said, is today’s $850 billion telecom business. The same approach is being used, he said, to create a green energy industry that has the potential to be much larger than telecom. Key elements are legislation that is raising the fuel-efficiency standards of cars from 25 mpg to 35 mpg; providing $80 billion in stimulus money for wind, solar, battery, and other energy sources; and reducing carbon emissions gradually to achieve an 83 percent reduction by 2050. The centerpiece of this legislative package is the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (known as the Waxman-Markey bill). “Entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and technologists now have the incentives to take new technology to the marketplace,” Markey said.

To view conference highlights, visit www.alumni.hbs.edu/events/greentech.html.

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