Xconomy, Welcome to Texas, Where Energy Will Be Solved!

4/30/13Follow @BobMetcalfe

It’s great that Xconomy is finally getting to Texas. Which is not to say that I’m rooting for Austin over “Baustin.” Innovation is not a zero-sum game. Or, as they say around these parts, we know you’re not from Texas, but we’re glad you’re here.

On the other hand, I spent 10 years trying to solve energy by investing in enertech around Boston. But, turns out that Boston is not really an energy innovation cluster. I see now that energy is much more likely to be solved in Texas, The Energy State, probably Houston. Our cowboys understand thermodynamics and chemical engineering at scale.

Texas developed the technologies for horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking, which are yielding (1) vast supplies of (2) cheap, (3) domestic, and (4) lower-carbon energy. Domestic natural gas is being used to replace coal and oil, significantly decarbonizing our energy supplies. U.S. CO2 emissions are down.

The trick is to use this gas boom, not to kill development of alternative energy supplies, but as a bridge, sustaining our economy while we research and innovate to make cheap and clean energy squanderably abundant. Hey, already 8 percent of Texas electricity comes from wind.

What I’ve learned about Texas geography: Austin is the center. We have big suburbs to the north, east, south, and west: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso. Dallas gets the tornadoes, Houston gets the hurricanes, and Austin gets the music. Come visit.

Bob Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet and the founder of 3Com Corporation, is Professor of Innovation and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. Follow @BobMetcalfe

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