Planet Forward

Planet Forward


Hosted by Emmy Award-Winner Frank Sesno
"2011 Innovator of the Year" Selected by Audience
One-Hour Program Begins Airing on PBS April 8, 2011 at 9:30 p.m.

A field of hundreds is pared down to a few finalists, panelists evaluate their potential for success, and the audience votes for a winner via text messaging. Sound familiar? Actually, it's a description of Planet Forward, a web and television-based project that's looking for the next great idea in energy innovation. Presented by Maryland Public Television (MPT), Planet Forward: Energy Innovations begins airing April 8 at 9:30 p.m. on PBS, (check local listings) and is hosted by Frank Sesno, Emmy Award-winner and Director of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University.

"Planet Forward gives engaged citizens, entrepreneurs, scientists and students the opportunity to share their energy solutions, and connect those innovative ideas with leaders in the energy field," said Frank Sesno, Planet Forward's host and creator. "These ideas have the power to change the nation's energy future."

Taped in front of an audience at The George Washington University, the second edition of Planet Forward profiles seven finalists chosen from hundreds of ideas submitted online to A panel of experts, including Thomas Connelly, Jr., executive vice president and chief innovation officer for DuPont, Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan, and Andrew Revkin, who writes the Dot Earth blog for the New York Times, provide feedback on the innovator's ideas based on originality, sustainability and commercial viability. Here are the seven finalists competing for the title of the Planet Forward "Innovator of the Year":

  • Kevin Surace, CEO of Serious Materials, led the effort to retrofit the iconic Empire State Building with more energy efficient windows.
  • Jamie Hestekin and a team of students and scientists at the University of Arkansas are converting algae into fuel.
  • Michael Mendez, founder of Sapphire Energy, is turning algae into Green Crude that can be refined into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.
  • Danny Kennedy, CEO of Sungevity, is partnering with financial institutions to reduce the cost of going solar to a zero-down monthly lease.
  • Linda-Rose Myers, president of EcoTech Fuels, aims to convert trash, plastics and tires into advanced, high performance synthetic fuel.
  • Al Dahlberg is building coalitions to create infrastructure for electric vehicles.
  • Gary Dirks is the director of Arizona State University's LightWorks project which uses the principle of solar power to design synthetic systems.

To find out which concept has the greatest potential to reshape our nation's energy future and become the "Innovator of the Year," watch Planet Forward beginning Friday, April 8th on your local PBS station. The winner will be followed on television and online for one year to see if their idea succeeds.

Planet Forward is a co-production of the Center for Innovative Media at The George Washington University, and Maryland Public Television in association with Nebraska Educational Telecommunications. Planet Forward's innovators are also featured monthly on PBS' Nightly Business Report.

Major funding for Planet Forward provided by: Tawani Foundation, National Science Foundation Noblis, and Volkswagen Group of America.


Downloads for Planet Forward

Planet Forward Press Release

Frank Sesno Bio

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Planet Forward Logo

Frank Sesno on Set