Energizing Innovation: Secretary of Energy Steven Chu answers questions following his dinner speech at the energy workshop.
Photo by Martha Stewart
"Workshop Aims to Hasten Transformation of Energy System"
Author: Joseph Leahy
What could, and should, the U.S. government do to hasten commercialization of advanced energy technologies? Senior representatives from government, industry, finance, and academia convened at the Harvard Kennedy School to discuss the question in an off-the-record workshop on energy technology demonstration in December. The workshop was organized and hosted by the Belfer Center’s Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group.
The diverse constituencies participating in the workshop, among them Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Under Secretary Steve Koonin, director of DOE’s ARPAE Arun Majumdar, former Louisiana Senator Bennett Johnston, and executives from Goldman Sachs, DuPont, and General Electric, all agreed speed is of the essence. To meet the energy challenges facing the United States, U.S. government intervention in spurring technology demonstration and deployment is a vital step toward commercialization. Included among the speakers were Uma Chowdry (DuPont), Stephan Dolezalek (Vintage Point Venture Partners), Donald Paul (University of Southern California), Arati Prabhakar (US Venture Partners), and Gary Rahl (Booz Allen Hamilton).
Many participants agreed that technology demonstrations—the critical phase between research and development and commercialization—are particularly important because:(a) they are a ratelimiting step to the commercialization; (b) they test new business models that provide critical knowledge to stakeholders; and (c) absent a clear price signal, the need to support innovative energy technologies becomes more urgent.
Workshop participants outlined several policy principles and recommendations, among them that the government should only support projects that can have direct impact on energy security, competitiveness and sustainability, and that the policies need to create a predictable, longterm investment environment.
Two policy initiatives currently being discussed by policy makers in Washington received broad, though not universal, support among participants in the workshop. These included (1) the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), recently proposed by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to overcome the current absence of predictable, transparent, consistent, and comprehensive energy policies for the United States; and (2) the Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA),a bipartisan initiative aimed at creating an attractive investment environment for the development and deployment of new clean energy technologies.
The workshop organizers, all with the Center’s Science, Technology, and Public Policy (STPP) program, included: Venkatesh Narayanamurti, STPP director; Laura Diaz Anadon, STPP associate director and ETIP director; Erik Mielke, ETIP fellow; Karin Vander Schaaf, ETIP administrative coordinator; Henry Lee, ETIP coprincipal investigator, and Matthew Bunn, coprincipal investigator of ETIP’s ERD3 project. The workshop was supported by a grant from Booz Allen Hamilton.
For the full report, click here.
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