Energy innovations and solutions for a sustainable urban environment


Join the Debate: What is the Future of Energy?

James P. Clark

James P. Clark, age 47, is currently founding chairman and CEO of the World Technology Network (, a curated global community of over 1,000 of the peer-selected most innovative individuals and organizations in science and technology, elected annually through the World Technology Awards. The most recent Awards were presented at the United Nations at the close of the 2011 World Technology Summit, held in association with TIME magazine, CNN, Fortune, among others, in New York at the TIME Conference Center. The World Technology Summit & Awards is a two-day, global gathering of the WTN membership (primarily winners/finalists from previous World Technology Award cycles), as well as World Technology Award nominees. The WTN has also convened the World Energy Technologies Summit (WETS) at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in 2004, and another WETS in partnership with TIME at the TIME Conference Center in 2010, as well as other events in cities around the world.

Educated at Wesleyan University (CT.) and Cambridge University (UK), Clark has served in a wide variety of leadership roles across business, politics, technology, academia, and the non-profit sector. A serial entrepreneur, Clark's first venture, a clearinghouse for professional careers in the non-profit sector, was founded at Wesleyan University in the late 1980s, and then green-housed, by invitation, at Harvard University, where Clark was appointed to the faculty. In 1992, Clark next served as Director the Non-Profit Sector & National Service in Little Rock, Arkansas, for then-Governor Bill Clinton's successful Presidential campaign. During the Presidential Transition period after the election, Clark co-developed the Presidential Transition Roundtable Series, bringing experts together to examine key issues, including Northern Ireland, Entrepreneurship, The Politics of Inclusion, and Homelessness. In 1993, he started one of the country's first Internet consulting firms, whose main client was another start-up called AOL, and which was focused on bringing online technology to the non-profit sector. In 1997, he founded the World Technology Network.

Expert's Answer

It would be great if we lived in a world where most major energy, environmental, and political decisions were made based on facts alone and where the facts caused us to make the right decisions every time. Unfortunately, we do not live in that world, but we can try to get closer to that world through actions catalyzed through thoughtful dialogue such as via this Energy For Tomorrow series. The facts: Modern civilization runs on enormous amounts energy, largely carbon-based. And, it is likely to continue to require doing so for decades while we switch over to renewables and/or new as yet-undiscovered energy technologies. Perhaps, too, our rises in consumption will be partially mitigated by rises in energy efficiency. In addition, of course, we have the massive challenge of human-caused climate change and its likely impact on the planet and its ecosystems, not to mention the politicization of that issue. The fact is that we face some daunting facts.

There has been great progress in efficiency and the use of renewables is growing very rapidly (albeit from a very tiny proportional base). Continued economic growth in the most advanced economies as well as those in the developing world (where it has taken billions out of poverty and which imperative cannot be denied to those still in poverty) will continue to fuel the growth in energy consumption in the coming decades. Some estimates state that more than half of the energy used in the world since the start of the industrial revolution has occurred in only the past two decades. By 2050, global energy demand is expected to double or even triple.

Given the economic AND environmental repercussions, the future of energy must encompass several key factors. It must focus on: a dramatic increase in renewable/clean energy consumption; prioritize efficiency; encourage massive capital investments in technological innovation (including in radical and blue-sky concepts); alter the century-old monopoly grid systems and the antiquated policies that perpetuate them; better integrate new sources into the existing energy infrastructure; and, above all else, ensure our environmental policies are neither based on doing nothing or doing just enough to appear to be doing something when its not enough. The future of energy is the future of human civilization. And, the future of energy is ours to determine... with personal and political decisions based on the facts as we know and gather them. Can we face the facts? Can we act in time? The stakes could not possibly be higher.

Read Archived Debates here.

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Online Resources

Brainstorm Tech

Winner James Mack was invited to attend FORTUNE's Brainstorm Tech in Aspen in July. Click here for a summary of the panel 'Innovation transforms the enterprise' featuring Shell's Chief Scientist Jose Bravo, or watch the full video here.

Shell Dialogues

A site dedicated to exploring the energy debate. Sign up for regular webchats with senior Shell executives.

Shell on Twitter

Follow Shell on Twitter and keep up to date with the latest news, features and events.

Shell Scenarios

Shell uses scenarios to explore the future. Our scenarios are not mechanical forecasts. They recognise that people hold beliefs and make choices that can lead down different paths. Explore our scenarios for the future of energy.

Shell has launched a new app for iPad that showcases innovation in energy

It looks at how human ingenuity is helping to meet people's growing energy needs in sustainable ways. Videos, animations and photo galleries help to bring the stories alive. You can explore the interactive features to discover new ways of finding energy, learn about the latest technology, and meet the people involved in making it happen. We'll also be adding new content regularly. Download the app now.

Shell on Natural Gas Production

Find out about the world's first floating liquefied natural gas facility (FLNG). To be built off the coast of Australia by Shell, it will help to unlock new energy resources offshore and revolutionise the way natural gas is developed.

Read and Comment on Archived Debates:

Will Energy Supply Meet Consumption?

Jesse Jenkins, Breakthrough Institute

Which Energy Resources are Most Promising?

Sheeraz Haji, Cleantech Group

Who Should Be Funding Energy Innovation?

Jigar Shah, Carbon War Room

Will Technology and Engineering Solve the Energy Crisis?

Thomas R. Casten, Recycled Energy Development LLC

Who is Leading Energy Innovation?

Jeffrey Serfass, Technology Transition Corporation

Can Energy Consumers Change Their Habits?

Kateri Callahan, Alliance To Save Energy

Are Governments Creating the Right Policy Environments to Support Innovation?

Albert Teich, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Essay Competition: Winner announced!

In this year's Energy for Tomorrow competition, graduate students from top business, environmental, public policy and engineering schools from around the globe were invited to discuss energy innovations in the urban environment and how this will affect consumer behaviour.

TIME, FORTUNE and Shell would like to congratulate the winner James Mack. The judges were impressed with his solution that integrated technology and policy innovations to create sustainable energy for tomorrow.


James Mack
Stanford University, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Highly Commended

Brian Marrs
Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Highly Commended

Alessandro Casoli
Imperial College London, The Faculty of Engineering

Readers' Choice

Jonathan Lim
University of Michigan, Ross School of Business


Roberto Leal
Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs

Wilfred Visser
IE Business School

Rahul Patil
Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA)

Shishir Dahake
Indian School of Business

Victor Nian
National University of Singapore, Faculty of Engineering

Lakshana Huddar
University of California, Berkeley, College of Engineering

This sponsored archive was paid for by Shell. TIME editors were not involved in the selection of articles or production of this sponsored archive.