By Lisa Jacobson, President, BCSE
From the main stage of the Global Clean Energy Action Forum (GCEAF) on September 22, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm spoke about the importance of collaboration and cooperation amongst clean energy businesses, advocates, and policymakers.
“The [clean energy] opportunity may be obvious, but to seize it, we all have to work together,” she said.
That is the mission exemplified by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) staff and members that joined me in Pittsburgh, PA last week for this inaugural international conference. Serving as a joint convening of the 13th Clean Energy Ministerial and 7th Mission Innovation Ministerial, the three-day event featured a high-level plenary sessions; topical roundtables with CEOs, experts, and energy and science ministers from 31 countries; side events; technology demonstrations; and more.
I was thrilled to lead BCSE’s delegation and discuss solutions to advance the clean energy transition with both private sector and government leaders from around the globe. The conference served as an exciting opportunity to connect with colleagues in-person and make new connections.
GCEAF reinforced BCSE’s view that many of the technology solutions we need to propel us forward on the path toward decarbonization by 2050 already exist – and that we can deploy a broad portfolio of clean energy and energy efficiency solutions in ways that are purposeful around equity and inclusion, while also creating economic wealth and energy security.
For that future to be realized fully, public-private partnerships must be at the center of clean energy planning. This message was reinforced throughout GCEAF programming.
At private roundtable discussions, senior executives from BCSE members National Grid, Johnson Controls, Schneider Electric, Trane Technologies, and U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) sat down with international energy ministers to discuss the transformation of the power sector and the path to creating net-zero and community connected buildings.
A concurrent GCEAF Business Forum dove in-depth on sectors including carbon management, clean hydrogen, long duration energy storage, grid-connected buildings and homes, and critical minerals.
The hallways and corridors of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center showcased more of these clean energy technology solutions. We visited exhibits by BCSE members GTI Energy, Johnson Controls, Plug, and more – and even Senator Joe Manchin III (D-VA) dropped by CALSTART’s display of zero emissions trucks and vehicles.
Side event panels brought industry, NGO, and government leaders together to discuss a broad array of topics, all of which focused on the practical implementation steps needed to achieve our clean energy innovation and deployment goals.
We took the opportunity at GCEAF to dive deeper into two important areas and opportunities for international cooperation and collaboration – decarbonizing the built environment and utilizing the energy transition to invest in our communities.
Alejandro Moreno, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy at DOE joined BCSE, the International Code Council, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and RESALLIENCE/Vinci Construction from France in a panel discussion aimed at understanding what has shaped this new era for advancing buildings decarbonization. The panel discussed how tools – ranging from policies and performance standards to flexible and digital technologies – can help scale up deployment in a way that is holistic and inclusive for local communities.
At a second BCSE event co-hosted with Edison Electric Institute, power sector executives from Capital Power, Duquesne Light, GTI Energy, and National Grid explored the integral role of community investment and engagement during the energy transition – and how to build a sense of shared goals that are inclusive by nature. DOE’s Betony Jones, Director of Energy Jobs, set the tone for the panel by sharing DOE’s vision of utilizing community engagement to create shared prosperity and more durable political will to invest in clean energy.
These themes of collaboration, public-private partnership, and investing in the human transition are what will stick with me from GCEAF.
Thank you to our hosts in Pittsburgh, PA, including Carnegie Mellon University and DOE for making the inaugural Global Clean Energy Action Forum an energizing experience for our business coalition.
BCSE is celebrating its 30th anniversary this fall, and GCEAF was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to delivering solutions for a net-zero economy. For a full list of panels, roundtables, and exhibitions that kept BCSE members busy throughout the conference, click here.
About the Author: Lisa Jacobson is the President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.