Full Title: U.S. Energy R&D Architecture: Discreet Roles of Major Innovation Institutions
Author(s): Brad Townsend, Associate Director for Energy Innovation and Erin Smith, Policy Analyst
Publisher(s): American Energy Innovation Council
Publication Date: 03/2016

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Description (excerpt):

Innovation is the beating heart of the American economy, and nowhere is that more true than in the energy
industry. While the private sector plays the dominant role in commercializing the new technologies that will
reinvent the energy sector, smart federal investments should seek to address critical gaps in the innovation
process.

Energy is, for the most part, a low-cost commodity product. Generally, companies wishing to offer energy
services in the marketplace face high capital requirements, long lead times, and daunting regulatory
hurdles—all in pursuit of comparatively modest profit margins. Not surprisingly, these challenges mean energy
providers tend to underinvest in disruptive new energy technologies. Consequently, government can play a
critical and appropriate role by partnering with industry to help reduce the costs of cleaner energy through
innovation.

Because energy underpins every facet of modern society, the importance of ensuring clean, affordable, reliable
energy is clear. As nations around the world race to muster available resources to meet that challenge, energy
access, security, and environmental benefits are critically important. The economic opportunity presented by a
well-functioning energy innovation ecosystem is easily in the trillions of dollars. The United States’ energy
research and development architecture, housed primarily within the Department of Energy (DOE), has historically
positioned the nation as a global leader in energy innovation. That position will not, however, sustain itself
without an understanding and commitment from both government and the private sector to ensure the United
States realizes its full potential to reap the enormous environmental, security, and economic benefits of energy
innovation.