Building on our previous report, this update highlights the need for an active government role in energy innovation, recommends ways to improve the effectiveness of government innovation programs, and highlights options to pay for energy innovation investments.
America has a great deal to gain from smart, ambitious innovation investments in the energy sector.
The Business Plan calls for a scale-up in clean energy investment and systemic reforms to create jobs, address national security concerns, and solve environmental challenges.
It is time we invent our future.
We find that, while the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership, and U.S. DRIVE are popularly thought of as three discrete efforts undertaken by different presidential administrations, they are more accurately described as a single, evolving and expanding partnership. All three partnerships maintained a diverse R&D portfolio and allocated substantial resources to all four major vehicle technology areas. We find that the partnerships account for a steady increase in technological accomplishments and progress toward performance, reliability and cost targets for batteries, fuel cells, and other key enabling technologies for advanced light-duty vehicles.
The development of aeroderivative gas turbines is inseparable from the development of aircraft engines, which was led by the military and bolstered by the rise of commercial aviation. Industry-government partnerships to advance aircraft engine technology have driven the evolution of aeroderivative gas turbines through several mechanisms: competitive military procurement, military R&D management, technology testing and validation, and public-private partnerships.
While the private sector has driven the continuous improvements and breakthroughs in exploration and production technologies for unconventional natural gas, unconventional gas production through these combined techniques became commonplace only in the 1990s after years of federal support and further innovations. The federal government substantively aided private efforts in several ways: basic science and resource mapping; coordinating and complementing industry efforts; applied research and development; and tax credits for unconventional gas.
The diesel engine was invented in the 1890s, but it only began to play a major role in the U.S. economy during and after construction of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s. Following the 1973 oil embargo, the government placed a new emphasis on technological development to improve fuel efficiency and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Over the following decades, there were three main mechanisms by which the government supported the improvement of diesel engines: performing basic combustion research, creating engine simulation tools, and establishing research partnerships.
Since the 1970s, the government has used four primary mechanisms to drive low‑e window technology development and commercialization: basic research and seed investments; computer tools for simulating window performance; standardized testing procedures and performance ratings; and educational outreach to manufacturers and consumers.
American business relies on innovation as a core driver of success. So, how do our most successful businesses manage innovation, and what is the role of national policy in enhancing private sector R&D? For this study, we interviewed top R&D executives at some of the largest and most innovative companies in America. Their insights shed light on how to integrate research and development into a successful business model. They also reveal how government and business can work together to accelerate innovation and solve America’s energy challenges.