Precourt, who made his fortune in gas and oil, now sees the need for clean, renewable sources of energy both to help reduce future impacts of global warming and as a means to strengthen national security. As he said in a recent interview:
I'm quite concerned, having been in the energy business my whole life, with the fact that we are importing energy from insecure, unreliable sources who are, in many cases, not friends of the United States.
According to the Stanford press release, Taylor and Steyer (who will have a TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy named after them) believe energy is at the core of all of our biggest problems -- environmental, economic and political. Their gift was precipitated by the financial meltdown. As Taylor says,
...we will (not) transform our economy and also address serious foreign policy and national security issues, as well as obvious environmental concerns, unless we address energy. We really need a new paradigm about energy...(and) a way to change energy policy while avoiding the political distortion created by campaign contributions.
- new materials (using nano-technolgy)
- hi-energy batteries and storage
- a smart grid for handling intermittent energy (like wind)
- public policy and carbon markets
- energy efficiency in buildings