A new report released this week by the Harvard Kennedy School has determined that by spending “a few billion dollars more per year to spur innovations in energy technology”, the US government could save the economy hundreds of billions of dollars per year by 2050. The report, entitled “Transforming US Energy Innovation”, also recommends that government double funding for energy R&D to about $10 billion per year.
The report is the part of a three-year project by the Energy Technology Innovation Policy (ETIP) research group in the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs that aimed to develop “a set of actionable recommendations to achieve ‘a revolution in energy technology innovation.’” The report also found that by putting a “substantial price” on carbon or clean energy standards, the country could also achieve major reductions in carbon emissions.
Included in the project was the first survey ever conducted of “the full spectrum of US businesses involved in energy innovation, identifying the key drivers of private-sector investments in energy innovation.” More than 100 experts working in a variety of energy technologies were also surveyed as to their recommendations for energy R&D funding. These experts also offered predictions as to the cost and performance of energy innovations under different R&D scenarios. This expert input was then used to “conduct extensive economic modeling on the impact of federal R&D investments and other policies (such as a clean energy standard) on economic, environmental, and security goals.”
The research team also identified specific industries they felt would most benefit from increased innovation investment. As such, the report recommends that “the largest percentage increases for research and development in four fields: energy storage, bio-energy, efficient buildings, and solar photovoltaics.”
Modeling conducted for the report included additional relevant findings, including:
* That investing more money in energy innovation without also setting a substantial carbon price or stringent clean energy standards would not bring big reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
* Without such carbon pricing policies or clean energy standards, companies do not have enough incentive to deploy new energy technologies in place of carbon-emitting fossil fuels.
* The performance of public-private partnerships and international partnerships on energy innovation would benefit from gathering information about the performance of previous projects.
Because the report concluded that the national laboratories continue to suffer from “fast-shifting funding and lack incentives for entrepreneurship,” the report proposes “ways for the government to strengthen its energy innovation institutions, particularly the national laboratories, so that the United States can get the most bang for its buck in its investments in energy innovation.”
About the ETIP
The ETIP project is part of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program and Environment and Natural Resources Program at the Kennedy School. Professor Venkatesh Narayanamurti and Associate Professor Matthew Bunn were the principal investigators for this work, and the research team was led by Dr. Laura Diaz Anadon, ETIP director. The project was supported by a generous grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The study was released on Nov. 22, 2011, in Cambridge, MA, and at an event in Washington, D.C. at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Upcoming Forester University Webinars:
Dec 7th, 2011:
Maximize Your Energy Efficiency and Savings with Lighting Solutions
Stop wasting energy and savings on your lighting! Join Gregory Davis, Chief Technology Officer at Lumetric, Inc. on December 7th at 2p.m. EST to explore lighting efficiency technology as a means to maximize your energy efficiency and increase your savings. We’ll discuss efficiency opportunities, technologies, and applications available in lighting, and compare solutions (e.g., application, maintenance, lifespan, etc.) for your best ROI.
Dec 13th, 2011:
Stormwater Inspection and Maintenance
Don’t get caught in the storm. Join Andrew J. Erickson, M.S., P.E., for Stormwater Inspection & Maintenance on Dec. 13th, a discussion of standardized stormwater inspection methods and performance assessment. Learn how to use these to assess, select, and schedule effective and financially sustainable maintenance on stormwater treatment practices (e.g., stormwater ponds, bioretention facilities, infiltration basins, swales, and filter strips).