日前，在美国科罗拉多州阿斯潘市召开的《财富》科技头脑风暴的一次午餐圆桌讨论中，与会者达成了上述共识。落基山脉研究院（Rocky Mountain Institute）创始人兼首席科学家埃莫利•洛温斯表示：“能源技术与IT技术相结合为能源系统带来了通讯技术、实在的定价以及实时反馈，我们现在可以做到许多就在几年前还无法做到的事。”
专注于研究先进商业规划的咨询公司——全球商业网络公司（Global Business Network）负责人皮特•舒瓦茨认为，（清洁能源企业的）创造性毁灭将会带来科技进步。第一波清洁能源投资大潮大约开始于2000年，不过当时许多关于将技术推向市场所需时间的预期都非常不切实际。舒瓦茨表示，“能源领域不像IT和软件。不可能一夜之间出现Facebook这样的公司。”舒瓦茨预言很多公司将在近期倒闭，不过对投资者而言，那些日趋成熟的技术仍然是很好的投资目标。
When it comes to green tech, it's easy to dwell on the bad news. A decade of venture capital investments have so far produced mixed returns. The carbon tax hasn't gotten off the ground. And let's just say that U.S. energy policy could be more coherent.
Yet, despite it all, we're poised for a wave of innovation—boosted by information technology—that will transform our energy markets and create huge new business opportunities in coming years.
That was the consensus at a lunchtime roundtable discussion at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo. "It's energy meets IT," said Amory Lovins, founder and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute. "Pervading the energy system with communication technology, honest pricing, and real-time feedback enables a lot of things we couldn't do even a few years ago."
That sentiment was echoed by Andy Karsner, of investment firm Manifest Energy. Karsner said that the new fiscal conservatism permeating the country will help focus people on enormous opportunities for energy conservation as megabytes meet megawatts. "We now have the economics and the environment" to go with the technology, he said.
Progress will be aided by a wave of creative destruction, said Peter Schwartz, head of the Global Business Network, a consulting firm that specializes in advanced business planning. The first big wave of clean tech investment that began around 2000 was built around a lot of unrealistic expectations, he said, about the time it would take to bring technology to market. "Energy is not the same as IT and software," said Schwartz. "You don't get a Facebook overnight in energy." Schwartz predicted that a lot of companies would fail in the near-term, but that there would be great investment opportunities for investors to put money into technology that's just getting ripe.
Consumers can expect a proliferation of options for the fuels they put in their cars, the panelists agreed. And Karsner said that a good role for government would be to insist that all vehicles run on multiple types of fuel. "That should be the intervention of the government," said Karsner. "It should be the empowerment of the consumer." There are myriad fuels that could be cheaper and cleaner than gasoline, he said.
The transition period as those fuels come to market will be "chaotic," said Schwartz. But by 2020, he predicted, most new cars will have their wheels turned by electric motors. "Exactly where the electricity comes from is less clear," he said.