August 08, 2006

Plug Power CEO Decries Energy Waste

By: by Larry Rulison, Business Writer, Times Union


ALBANY -- Roger Saillant, chief executive of Plug Power Inc., a Latham company that makes fuel cells, was at the Albany NanoTech complex Monday complaining about how much energy the United States is wasting.

Not oil or gas, but the sun.

Saillant, a proponent of alternative and renewable energy sources, said the country has to do more to harness the energy of the sun, be it from solar, wind or hydro -- all directly created from energy from the sun.

"There's an incredible amount of energy coming off the sun," he said. "The sun is a huge energy driver."

Saillant had a captive audience.

He was the keynote speaker at the Tech Valley Energy Forum, an event sponsored by New Energy New York, a consortium of alternative-energy companies in the state, and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, which is the University at Albany institution that oversees Albany NanoTech, a $3 billion nanotechnology research and development center.

Saillant didn't say much about his own company, noting that Plug Power is at a point of "disfavor" in the stock market right now. Shares (Nasdaq: PLUG) closed trading Monday at $4, which is down 48 percent from its 52-week high.

But he did have a lot to say about the United States conserving energy and especially learning to limit the use of energy in automobiles and airplanes. Each gallon of gas burned in a car produces 19 pounds of carbon dioxide, which environmentalists say contributes to global warming, he said.

"We just really have no grasp of it," Saillant said. "It won't be much longer until we reach a real tipping point."

Saillant's remarks came the same day Gov. George Pataki made a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., calling for a national energy policy to reduce 25 percent of the nation's oil imports with more domestic production, more alternative-energy sources and more energy efficiencies.

It also was the day that UAlbany announced Pradeep Haldar, a professor at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and director of its Energy and Environmental Technology Applications Center, had been elected chairman of the Clean Energy Alliance, a creation of the U.S. Department of Energy. Haldar also is executive director of New Energy New York.

"It's huge. I'm very happy and very excited," Haldar said. "I look at this as being beneficial to New Energy New York, too."