Ernest Moniz and Ratan Tata talk energy innovation at ARPA-E Summit

“The time is now for countries to use new technologies to solve old problems.”

Ratan Tata (left) in conversation with US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Trusts, got together for a “Fireside Chat” at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

Topics included innovation in energy, transportation, and economic development, with special attention paid to problems of rural energy distribution. The conversation highlighted the difficulties of changing public perception about developing markets, and covered global energy issues.

“If one thing is going to hold back growth in India, it’s inadequacy of energy,” said Mr. Tata. He added: “The time is now for countries to use new technologies to solve old problems.”

They discussed the ongoing projects of the MIT Tata Center, which both Secretary Moniz and Mr. Tata were instrumental in creating. Moniz also suggested hosting a future ARPA-E conference in India, an idea that Tata was enthusiastic about, saying such an event would be “swamped.”

Ratan Tata served as chairman of Tata Sons from 1991-2012, before stepping down and becoming chairman of the Tata Trusts, one of India’s oldest philanthropic organizations. Among other endeavors, the Tata Trusts support the work of the MIT Tata Center.

Ernest Moniz, former director of the MIT Energy Initiative, was appointed Secretary of Energy by President Obama in 2013. He’s an expert on nuclear energy, also known for having a sense of humor about his signature haircut.