Arizona State University planned long ago to host a conference on alternative energy. But the three-day event, which begins Monday, now has greater importance due to a recent event: the election of Barack Obama as president.
A plank of the Democrat's platform was a greater emphasis on "green" energy. Such a push from the White House should provide a massive boost to the industry, tipping the Arizona Workshop on Renewable Energy from mere talk to potential action.
"The timing is good for some, perhaps, fairly bold initiatives to get started," said Jonathan Fink, director of ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability. "And some of those will have direct relevance to Arizona, especially related to solar of various types."
The institute is one of the event's sponsors, along with the school's Arizona Institute for Renewable Energy. Also participating are Arizona Public Service, the Arizona Department of Commerce, the city of Tempe, Green Fuel Solar, NanoVoltaix Inc. and Sol Equity.
ASU has done well under the Bush administration, Fink said. Participating in the Department of Energy's Solar America Initiative program, the school has received five grants.
The first two grants were shared with corporate partners.
"(Bush) wanted to put money for solar research into companies, rather than universities, because they would more likely get products out the door quicker," Fink said. "That's opposed to thinking about what might be the new generation of technologies 10, 20, 30 years from now."
Obama has said he wants, by the end of his first term, 10 percent of America's energy to come from renewable sources, and 25 percent by 2025.Successful implementation of this policy, he explained, would lead to more jobs, a cleaner environment and less reliance on oil imported from the Middle East and Venezuela.