Note: Drawn from report synopses by OurEnergyPolicy.org.
Highlights of Major 2010 Energy Innovation Reports
A Business Plan for America’s Energy Future
by the American Energy Innovation Council
Released June 2010
by Steven F. Hayward, Mark Muro, Ted Nordhaus, and Michael Shellenberger
Released October 2010
Creating a Clean Energy Century
by Third Way
Released November 2010
Government must play a key role in accelerating energy innovation for two reasons. First, innovations in energy technology can generate significant public benefits that are not reflected in the market price of energy, including cleaner air and improved public health, enhanced national security and international diplomacy, reduced risk of dangerous climate change, and protection from energy price shocks and related economic disruptions. Second, the energy business requires investments of capital at a scale beyond the risk threshold of most private-sector investors. A slow turnover rate for energy equipment, and existing market structures, limits investments in new ideas and creates a vicious cycle of status quo behavior.
Fossil fuels have undeniably been critical to American prosperity and development, but we can gradually move toward cleaner, healthier, and safer energy sources. Our goal today should be to make new clean energy sources much cheaper so they can steadily displace fossil fuels. If we structure this transition correctly, new energy industries could be an important driver of long-term economic growth. Drawing on America’s bipartisan history of successful federal investment to catalyze technology innovation by the U.S. military, universities, private corporations, and entrepreneurs, the heart of this proposal is a $25 billion/year investment channeled through a reformed energy innovation system.
The energy market is moving slowly, but inevitably, toward clean energy as countries decide they can no longer tolerate the pollution costs and security risks of conventional energy or the threat of global warming. The great hurdle is making clean energy as cheap as fossil fuels. This will require major breakthroughs. Existing clean energy sources are too expensive and have technical limitations. Countries that are home to this next generation of affordable clean energy technologies will likely dominate the 21st century economy. The United States can emerge as the dominant economy of the 21st century, just as it was in the 20th century. But we will not get there unless we change course and do so rapidly.
Create an independent national Energy Strategy Board charged with (1) developing and monitoring a National Energy Plan, and (2) oversight of a New Energy Challenge Program (see Recommendation #5).
Fund $16 billion/year in clean energy innovation set with multi-year commitments, managed by well-defined performance goals, focused on technologies that can achieve significant scale, and free from political interference and earmarking.
Create Centers of Excellence in energy innovation with strong domain expertise, with an annual budget of $150 – $250 million each.
Fund ARPA-E at $1 billion/year.
Establish and fund a New Energy Challenge Program to fund, build and accelerate the commercialization of advanced energy technologies.
Invest in Energy Science and Education. Double the Department of Energy’s Office of Science budgets. Invest roughly $500 million/year in K-12 curriculum and teacher training, energy education scholarships, etc.
Overhaul the Energy Innovation System. Invest up to $5 billion/year to establish a national network of regional innovation institutes. Fund ARPA-E at $1.5 billion/year.
Reform the nation’s energy subsidies. Create incentives for various classes of energy technologies so that each might mature, and decrease incentive levels as they become mature. Provide up to $5 billion/year to expand Department of Defense efforts to procure, demonstrate, and test emergent energy technologies.
Internalize the Cost of Energy Modernization and Ensure Investments Do Not Add to the National Debt
Provide direction for clean energy innovation through a reformed federal clean energy infrastructure. This would start with restructuring federal innovation under a National Institutes of Energy, with the singular mission of developing the affordable, commercial clean energy technologies of the future.
Create the early markets for private sector clean energy technologies until they are brought to scale and become affordable.
Ensure that new clean energy technologies are manufactured in the United States and that every region of the country reaps the benefits.
Educate the next generation of scientists and technicians to help America make the leap to clean energy.
Invest $15 billion in clean energy research, development, demonstration and deployment to bridge the capital gap in the private sector.