Public Investments in Energy Technology

Public Investments in Energy Technology

Michael P. Gallaher, Albert N. Link and Alan C. O’Connor

Escalating energy demand may be the most important issue facing the United States and the world today. There is little disagreement that research and development (R & D) is needed to develop new energy technologies for the future; however, there is less agreement over the specific research agenda to be pursued and how that agenda is funded. This book addresses the social importance of new energy technologies, illustrates policy-relevant applications of evaluation techniques and proposes new perspectives for a US energy investment strategy.

Chapter 4: Technical Discussions of the Case Studies

Michael P. Gallaher, Albert N. Link and Alan C. O’Connor

Subjects: economics and finance, energy economics, public finance, public sector economics


INTRODUCTION The technical backgrounds for the three case studies that follow are discussed in this chapter. It is important to compare and contrast these backgrounds to appreciate the scope of research (e.g., applied R&D, market technology, and improvements in mature technology) that EERE supports and that is evaluated in the following chapters. EERE is currently organized around the ten technology programs listed in Table 4.1. Table 4.1 also provides a general assessment of the life-cycle stage of the technology programs and their status related to commercialization and existing markets. It should be noted that most of the technology programs individually pursue a portfolio of research that spans from applied research and development to deployment of mature technologies. As mentioned previously, EERE’s programs rely heavily on partnerships with the private sector, state and local government, DOE national laboratories, and universities. This wide range of public sector and private sector partnerships reflects the variation of where the research is relative to the technology life cycle. For example, for early biomass technologies, EERE partners heavily with universities and national laboratories. For more mature technologies, as is the case with wind and water power technologies, EERE partners with private-sector companies to make incremental improvements. For mature and commercially available technologies, EERE works with federal, state, and local government entities to adoption. The three case studies included in the following chapters document the range of research activities conducted by EERE at different stages of the technology life cycle: ● The Solar Energy Technologies Program (SETP)...

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