By Marc Gunther
Perhaps it was my imagination, but there seemed to be a spring in the step of the Americans at the World Future Energy Summit here in Abu Dhabi.
"Today, I'm pleased to say that we have a new president," said Dan Arvizu, the director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
He noted that his new boss, Steve Chu, the energy secretary, is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and he projected a bigger-than-life photo of Barack Obama onto the screen during his presentation to the international audience here.
Arvizu described, with undisguised pleasure, the economic stimulus bill before Congress, which includes $150 billion in investments in renewable and alternative energy, including $11 billion to upgrade the electricity grid.
"We are going to build a new economy based on green and renewable energy," Arvizu said. "We need transformational change. We must seize the moment."
Steve Fludder, the new head of ecomagination for GE, also praised the new Obama administration for its "refreshing views" and said that a key goal of the ecomagination effort at GE is to "decouple" economic growth from rising greenhouse gas emissions. GE intends to invest about $1.5 billion a year in renewable energy, energy efficiency, so-called clean coal and water purification research.
This week, GE announced that it will locate an "ecomagination technology center" in Masdar City, the new zero-carbon, zero-waste city being constructed in Abu Dhabi.
"We are seeing a tipping point around the world" when it comes to clean energy, Fludder said. "I can tell you with absolute certainty, as a technology coming, that green is profitable."
As for the Obama administration and its plans for an economic stimulus package, new energy policy and carbon regulation, Fludder said: "We see nothing but positive impact."