"Featured Fellow: Charles (Skuk) Jones"
Charles (Skuk) Jones researches financing of alternative energy innovation
Author: Lucia Cordon
Related: Charles Jones, Former Associate, Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, 2011–2013; Former Research Fellow, Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, 2008–2010
Jones is a research fellow with the Energy Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment Policy project (ERD3) of the Belfer Center's Energy Technology Innovation Policy (ETIP) research group.
Nine years of service in U.S. Navy submarines was only part of Charles "Skuk" Jones' training on energy technology innovation. One of his tours was the construction of the USS Seawolf, supervising inspections on all levels of the sea-going nuclear plant.
Jones, who has a Ph.D. in public policy and a background in engineering, became interested in science and its impact on policy and education while teaching high school physics. "The two good interest areas of research at that time were medicine and biotechnology, and energy and climate. My background was in physics and nuclear power so energy seemed to be a good fit," he said.
As a research fellow with the Belfer Center's ERD3 project, Jones studies investment in innovation in the private sector and in public-private partnerships. In the spring of 2010, he co-authored a report that looked at the Department of Energy's fiscal year 2011 budget request. The report pointed out that DOE's funding request would not cover the energy demands of the 21st century. "We are still spending funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which will run out in a couple of years," Jones said. "We should try to set funding for steady growth and set a commitment to sustained efforts."
Jones believes the future of alternative energy lies in research and policy making. For example, he said, research done on semiconductors in the U.S. has proved to be very effective and could be an model for research on global energy issues in the future. Another example is Gas Research Institute's development of unconventional sources of natural gas, which now make up about half of production.
Much remains to be done to improve energy systems and use, Jones said. "We will see how in the near future, people wanting to start up businesses will come up with new energy technologies to compete with existing alternative energy systems and competition will lead to the development of more efficient systems."
"I want my kids to have grandchildren, and this is one of the problems that will affect their future. Alternative energy innovation is going to require attacks on all levels, including policy, business, science and technology."
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