When the US government spurred the development of jet engines during and after World War II, no one guessed that decades later the same technology would be adapted for electricity generation. Today, gas turbine derived from jet engines–called “aeroderivative” gas turbines–provide flexibility for managing peak electricity demand and integrating increasing levels of variable wind and solar power. Aeroderivative gas turbines also power the world’s navies and have proven critical to oil and gas pumping operations. U.S. companies are not the only producers of aeroderivatives, but they are the largest producers, thanks to the long history of U.S. public investments and military-driven partnerships with industry.
Today, AEIC staff release a case study on aeroderivative gas turbine development, the fourth in a series of case studies that illustrate the various ways in which the federal government has played a productive and necessary role in energy technology innovation. Previously, AEIC staff released case studies on unconventional gas exploration & production, advanced diesel internal combustion engines, and low-emissivity windows. The series examines the various mechanisms that the federal government has used to successfully complement and enhance private sector energy technology innovation. In doing so, AEIC’s staff underscore how the federal government acts as a catalyst and instigator to private sector energy innovation.