Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution

Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution

Charles Weiss
William B. Bonvillian
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution
    Book Description:

    America is addicted to fossil fuels, and the environmental and geopolitical costs are mounting. A public-private program-- at an expanded scale-- to stimulate innovation in energy policy seems essential. In Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution, Charles Weiss and William Bonvillian make the case for just such a program. Their proposal backs measures to stimulate private investment in new technology, within a revamped energy innovation system. It would encourage a broad range of innovations that would give policymakers a variety of technological options over the long implementation period and at the huge scale required, faster than could be accomplished by market forces alone. Even if the nation can't make progress at this time on pricing carbon, a technology strategy remains critical and can go ahead now.Strong leadership and public support will be needed to resist the pressure of entrenched interests against putting new technology pathways into practice in the complex and established energy sector. This book has helped start the process.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-25551-6
    Subjects: Business, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The environmental and geopolitical costs of America’s addiction to fossil fuels make a federal program to stimulate innovation in energy technology both justifiable and essential. Such a technology supply-side program should be accompanied by policies that ensure long-term, sustained high prices for emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere—for example, a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, as well as regulatory standards and other measures to foster demand for more efficient overall energy use. But market forces alone cannot provide the pace and scope of innovations required to meet the urgent national need for improved technology for energy supply...

  5. 2 An Integrated Innovation Policy Model for Energy Technology
    (pp. 13-36)

    Policy support for innovation in energy technology in the United States requires a new approach to the stimulation of innovation that differs in important ways from the traditional American approach to the support of science and technology, and differs even more radically from the pattern of support for energy technology that has dominated U.S. legislation in the past few years. For this reason, the design of government programs to stimulate innovation in energy technology requires a new analytic framework quite different from the one that has historically guided American innovation policy. Without a new analytic innovation framework, our energy technology...

  6. 3 Promoting Development and Adoption of New Energy Technology
    (pp. 37-56)

    Advances in energy technology, whether for supply or end use, must occur in a complex system. End-use technologies face a varied and fragmented multisectoral and multiresource landscape, requiring solutions within intricate and closely coupled systems for transport, electricity, and buildings and involving oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewables. Solutions are needed to address all the varied and controversial issues that justify public intervention to stimulate these technologies—the so-called drivers of political change. These include concerns over energy security, climate, environment, rising economic costs, and potential supply issues with major new users in China, India, and other emerging economies....

  7. 4 Toward a Roadmap for Launching Technological Innovation in Energy
    (pp. 57-126)

    This chapter sets forth a sampling of innovation pathways, citing selected examples of new energy and environmental technologies, and fleshing out the framework described above to suggest in more depth the kinds of government technology policies that will be required for a roadmap to promote energy innovation along different pathways. The discussions of the technologies chosen illustrate the six pathways discussed in the previous chapter; they are not intended to provide an exhaustive exploration of the issues affecting each technology, to cover all pending technologies or to set forth their definitive technical status. Our focus is not on the technologies...

  8. 5 Energy R&D and Implementation: What Is the Right Level of Funding and Where Will the Money Come From?
    (pp. 127-150)

    What scale of research, development, and implementation effort will be required to reduce dependence on petroleum on some reasonable timetable and to achieve stabilization or a reduction in carbon dioxide (and GHGs) by midcentury? To gain support for strengthened federal energy R&D and for implementation, it will be important to have at least a broad estimate of the range of funding required. We will deal first with R&D levels.

    This question is particularly important because we have been moving in the wrong direction on the funding of energy R&D. As we have previously noted, both federal and private-sector spending on...

  9. 6 Institutional Gaps in the Mechanisms of Support for Different Stages of Innovation
    (pp. 151-190)

    In the first step of our analysis (in chapters 3 and 4), we classified many of the most promising new energy technologies according to the most likely obstacles to their market launch once they are technoeconomically ready to compete with “legacy” technologies that are already on the market. In the second step (also in chapters 3 and 4), we discussed technology-neutral packages of policies to facilitate the launch of each of these categories of innovation.

    This chapter now completes the final two steps of our analysis of a way to structure an energy technology revolution. In step three, we review...

  10. 7 All Pumping Together? Prospects for International Collaboration
    (pp. 191-204)

    Global warming, energy security, and economic competitiveness are inextricably linked, a fact that greatly complicates any national effort to stimulate innovation in energy technology. Both global warming and energy security are inherently international problems, to which purely national solutions can at best offer only partial answers. At the same time, there are inescapable conflicts between this common interest and the issues of international competitiveness and commercial competition, not to mention the geopolitical conflicts resulting from the interest of some nations in perpetuating the current energy paradigm. From the point of view of the firm, after all, the whole point of...

  11. 8 Political Prospects and Conclusions
    (pp. 205-218)

    Returning to efforts in the United States, how viable politically are the proposals for changes at the federal level advanced in this book? The proposals for federal government policy can be broken down into three broad categories: front-end investment in research, development, and demonstration; back-end incentives and regulatory mandates for technology implementation; and related institutional reforms in the innovation system. We believe there are signs as of late 2008, including recent elections, that each of these is coming into the range of the politically possible.

    In the first category, that of R&D spending, Congress and the president took the initiative...

  12. Glossary
    (pp. 219-226)
  13. Abbreviations
    (pp. 227-228)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 229-274)
  15. References
    (pp. 275-300)
  16. Index
    (pp. 301-318)