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Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution

By: Charles Weiss and William B Bonvillian

MIT Press

Paperback | May 2009 | #179905 | ISBN-13: 9780262012942
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About this book

America is addicted to fossil fuels, and the environmental and geopolitical costs are mounting. A federal program - on the scale of the Manhattan Project or the Apollo Program - 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, including a cap-and-trade system or carbon tax, but augments these with 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.

Weiss and Bonvillian propose a new integrated policy framework for advancing energy technology and outline a four-step approach for encouraging energy innovations: assessment of how new technology will be launched, focusing on obstacles that may be encountered in the marketplace; development of technology-neutral policies and incentives, putting new technology pathways into practice to bridge the traditional 'valley of death' between research and late-stage development; identification of gaps in the existing system of institutional support for energy innovation; and the establishment of private and public interventions to fill these gaps. This approach aims for a level playing field so that technologies can compete with one another on their merits.

This extraordinary book by Charles Weiss and William Bonvillian offers a four-step framework for analysis and action to meet America's need for secure, sustainable, and affordable clean energy. The most technologically advanced and innovative nation on the planet has seemed unable to meet this need because our traditional innovation processes are inadequate. Generating, distributing, and using energy in 21st century America, because of its scale, complexity, and in-place infrastructure, is totally unlike the narrow goals of the oft-cited Apollo or Manhattan Projects. Furthermore, the multitude of technologies and the potential for unpredictable breakthroughs rules out a classical technology roadmap. Weiss and Bonvillian combine experience, analysis, and realpolitik" to present a roadmap not for energy technology itself, but for the public-private process to fund, produce, and insert energy innovations into the economy." --Charles M. Vest, President, National Academy of Engineering, President Emeritus, MIT


Contents

Preface
1 Introduction
Demand-Side Measures by Themselves Will Be Insufficient 7
2 An Integrated Innovation Policy Model for Energy Technology 13
Three Theories of Innovation 16
Integrated Innovation in Energy Technology Energy 28
The Four-Step Analytic Framework 34
3 Promoting Development and Adoption of New Energy Technology
The Multiple-Strand Problem in Technology Policy 37
The Economic Justification for Public Intervention 39
Defining Terms 42
Step 1: Different Launch Pathways for Different Technologies 44
Step 2: Matching Launch Pathways to Policy Packages 46
The Need for Policy Coherence 50
4 Toward a Roadmap for Launching Technological Innovation in Energy 57
Experimental Technologies Requiring Long-Range Research 57
Disruptive Technologies: Potentially Disruptive Technological Innovations Launched in Niche Markets 64
Secondary Innovations-Uncontested Launch: Secondary (Component) Technologies That Will Face Immediate Competition on Launch but Are Acceptable to Recipient Industries 80
Secondary Innovations-Contested Launch: Secondary (Component) Technologies with an Inherent Cost Disadvantage, Facing Political and/or Nonmarket Economic Opposition 97
Incremental Innovations for Conservation and End-Use Efficiency
Manufacturing Production Scale-Up and Generic Process Improvements 124
5 Energy R&D and Implementation: What Is the Right Level of Funding and Where Will the Money Come From? 127
What Are the Right Energy R&D and Implementation Numbers? 127
Cap and Trade as a Potential Source of Funding for R&D and Implementation? 134
6 Institutional Gaps in the Mechanisms of Support for Different Stages of Innovation 151
Step 3: Identifying the Institutional Gaps 151
Step 4: Filling the Gaps 154
Summary of New Institutional Arrangements to Meet Energy Innovation Gaps 185
Will New Energy Technology Provide Economic Gains? Will It Create New Functionality? 185
7 All Pumping Together? Prospects for International Collaboration
The Growing Role of China and India 192
Mechanisms for International Coordination 194
Where Will Energy Innovation Leadership Come From? 195
Collaboration on Innovation 199
8 Political Prospects and Conclusions 205
The Politics of Energy Innovation 205
The Problem of Pork 208
Conclusion: Achieving a Revolution in Energy Technology 211
Glossary 219
Abbreviations 227
Notes 229
References 275
Index

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Biography

Charles Weiss is Distinguished Professor of Science, Technology, and International Affairs at Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service. He was Science and Technology Adviser to the World Bank from 1971 to 1986. William B. Bonvillian is Director of the MIT Washington Office and a former senior adviser in the U.S. Senate.

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