Description: Class 10 will review the challenges to the energy innovation system, including both institutional organizational challenges and underlying economic challenges, affecting energy technology advance and apply lessons from prior classes as well as additional approaches relevant to advances in complex established economic systems like energy.
Given the central role of energy in the economy and the variety of new technologies needed for an energy transformation, an expanded federal program to stimulate innovation in energy technology may be needed. It must arguably go beyond research and development to include all aspects of the innovation process, and should be technology neutral as far as possible, consistent with the need for measures to overcome obstacles specific to particular technologies. Ideally, such a technology supply-side program should be accompanied by policies that ensure demand pricing for carbon-based energy, to foster technology demand. However, those programs will not be forthcoming soon, given the interests concerned with such measures, and political support for such demand-side policies in Congress and the executive branch appear indefinitely postponed. The political barriers to a technology supply-side strategy, on the other hand, may not be as high. Numerous authoritative publications have called for an expansion of energy research and development as a complement to demand-side measures. However, the specific mechanisms by which the development, deployment and diffusion of these technologies might be facilitated by government action have been left largely unstudied. A hard look at these specific mechanisms will be the subject of the class. This class will provide students with a close look at the systemic challenges now faced by the energy innovation system and draw on lessons from prior classes for possible organizational solutions. It will review the “wedges” theory for introduction of new technologies and efficiencies, a framework for introducing energy technologies, the potential supporting energy technology role of the Defense Department, the new ARPA-E energy research model, and alternative options for meeting energy goals. Part two of two.
Instructor: William Bonvillian