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
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