President Bill Clinton is a total energy geek. In an hour long talk and Q&A session at the National Clean Energy Summit on Tuesday, Clinton gushed about visiting a nearby solar farm that morning, praised energy efficiency and solar technology, and rattled off energy prices in international regions like a seasoned power exec.
Clinton has been focusing on the issues of climate change and resource depletion for at least 32 years, he said. In 1977, when he was Attorney General of Arkansas, he said he once brought Amory Lovins to come speak before the public utility commission about how energy efficiency could help prevent the construction of another nuclear plant.
But post-Presidency Clinton has done an even deeper dive into the subject of clean energy and energy efficiency, and is promoting support of these industries through his foundation and through speaking opportunities (like this one). Energy efficiency is the lowest hanging fruit, said Clinton, emphasizing that “We [the U.S.] have not made a serious attempt to take energy efficiency to scale.” Energy efficiency has the ability to create the most jobs for the investment, said Clinton.
After energy efficiency, Clinton said solar is the next clear opportunity. Solyndra failed because the Chinese came in with billions in subsidies and even bankrupted some of its own domestic solar firms, said Clinton. Clinton also sang the praise of waste to energy technology, saying he wanted more waste to energy technologies to be used in areas like Mumbai.
Clinton did have some ideas for how to help solve the clean energy problem and potentially break the log jam of bipartisan politics. “If every state had a renewable energy mandate it would be much easier to get clean power installed, said Clinton. Tax credits are always good in this area, he said during the Q&A.
Other theories were a little more offbeat. Clinton said he was impressed with all of the visible tattoos of the 2,000 plus construction workers on the site of Ivanpah, and said this made him ponder how if there were people with visible impressive tattoos that advocated and understood clean energy, then there would be more success for the clean energy industry in Washington D.C. Think of the tattoo vote.