The future of energy:

can fossil fuels and renewables coexist?

  • Share

Session recap

From coexistence to collaboration: fossil fuels and renewables

“Can we coexist? Of course we can. You have a solar guy sitting next to a coal guy and a natural gas guy and no fights are breaking out,” laughed Nicholas DeIuliis, President, CONSOL Energy Inc., in Thursday’s panel “The future of energy: can fossil fuels and renewables coexist?”

All participants on the panel, moderated by Marcela E. Donadio, Americas Oil & Gas Sector Leader, Ernst & Young, agreed. “The policy has been conducted as if it’s a zero-sum game … but every fuel, every technology has its sweet spot and its place,” said James Hughes, Chief Executive Officer, First Solar. “There’s a lot of common ground that gets lost because of the way the debate happens. We need to spend less time being confrontational and more time collaborating.”

The more pressing conversation is around energy independence, according to Robert L. Nardelli, Senior Advisor, Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. “We hear a lot about the fiscal cliff, but energy and energy independence couldn’t be more important to solve the problems in this country. I don’t know any sector that could create so many jobs so quickly as energy.”

James J. Mulva, Retired Chairman & CEO, ConocoPhillips, explained, “When we have the resources, when we make the investment … we get the jobs, which leads to paying taxes, and that helps with the deficit. … But also, if we develop new technologies, we can take them to other places in the world.”

These same technologies that are rapidly moving us toward energy independence are also creating unexpected opportunities for the savvy entrepreneur. According to DeIuliis, “Water is becoming the third estate of energy. The entrepreneurs that can find technologies to reduce the water footprint [of all energy sources] or to increase the recyclability of water —that’s a tremendous area of opportunity.”

Finding a way to integrate all of the energy sources and technologies into a package that works is the way to achieve economic success, Nardelli said. “It’s about putting into place a homogeneous solution that incorporates all technologies.”


Robert L. Nardelli photo

Robert L. Nardelli
Senior Advisor
Cerberus Capital Management, L.P.

Nicholas DeIuliis photo

Nicholas DeIuliis
CONSOL Energy Inc.

Jim Hughes photo

Jim Hughes
Chief Executive Officer
First Solar

James J. Mulva photo

James J. Mulva
Retired Chairman & CEO


Marcela E. Donadio photo

Marcela E. Donadio
Americas Oil & Gas Sector Leader
Ernst & Young LLP