New AEIC Case Studies Draw Lessons Learned from Past Energy Stimulus Programs to Inform New Economic Recovery Proposals

Washington, DC – With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic reverberating throughout the U.S. economy, lawmakers are considering stimulus measures to drive job creation while addressing long-term challenges—particularly the transition to clean energy sources. To that end, the American Energy Innovation Council today released a series of four case studies analyzing recent federal efforts to demonstrate advanced technologies as part of its new AEIC Scaling Innovation Project. The studies look at moving technologies into the marketplace, providing a set of cross-cutting insights for American job growth and global technological leadership.

The AEIC Scaling Innovation project focuses on addressing the challenges inherent to the demonstration of new energy technologies by convening experts from the public and private sectors.

The studies released today focus primarily on recent federal efforts under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009, highlighting key lessons for creating effective federal programs to demonstrate first-of-a-kind energy technology projects.

“Scaling up first-of-kind technologies is especially challenging in the energy space, making learning from previous demonstration projects crucial to future successes,” said AEIC Member and former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine. “These case studies, analyzed by leading experts in the field, point towards new approaches for an innovation-focused climate strategy that can also drive economic growth.”

The four case studies cover complementary topics:

  1. How the U.S. successfully demonstrated utility-scale solar energy technology.
  2. ARRA-funded demonstrations of large-scale carbon capture and storage technology.
  3. The process used by the Department of Defense to develop and demonstrate new technology.
  4. The rationale for launching a new federally supported institution—a “Clean Energy Deployment Administration”—dedicated to supporting the demonstration and deployment of new energy technologies, and key design features to help ensure that this entity is effective.

“The private sector must invest more to ultimately scale the new technologies needed for the energy transition but it can’t do it alone,” said Chad Holliday, AEIC member and chairman of Royal Dutch Shell. “The choke point in demonstrating advanced technologies at scale can only be resolved by smart, targeted federal policies. This AEIC working group has the experience to help America create a technology-neutral, low-emissions, commercially-scalable portfolio that can be deployed in the coming years and decades.”

To shift the U.S. economy towards this low-carbon future, Congress must devise and implement a portfolio of policies that will provide the environment for successful technology breakthroughs, understanding that not every endeavor will be successful.

“These case studies reveal insights that should define a new federal innovation framework,” said Sasha Mackler, director of the energy project at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “Namely, accepting risk as inevitable, that flexibility is important since there is no set recipe for success, and rarely does a single policy work in isolation. Success requires a combination of policies that gain enduring support because they work effectively together.”

Later this year, the AEIC Scaling Innovation project will be releasing policy recommendations informed by these case studies and broader policy insights.

Read the Case Studies