Washington, DC—The scalable energy technology needed to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 does not currently exist. To rapidly create, develop, and deploy technologies capable of addressing climate change, Congress must expand federal support to the entire energy innovation lifecycle, says a new report by the American Energy Innovation Council released today.
With bipartisan momentum gathering in Congress around a technology-forward climate agenda, the AEIC, comprised of 11 executives in the energy, technology, and aerospace industries, in their report, Energy Innovation: Supporting the Full Innovation Lifecycle, concludes that the United States must partner beyond basic R&D to support the scale-up and demonstration phases—taking promising technologies from the lab bench to the grid.
“Any serious climate plan must include support for the full innovation lifecycle—research and development along with demonstration and deployment,” said Jay Faison, founder of ClearPath and AEIC member. “Innovation doesn’t end at the lab’s edge, and we need programs to help scale-up, de-risk and deploy the clean technologies of the future. Including advanced nuclear, carbon capture and storage.”
Large energy companies are also creating strategies to move towards net-zero emissions, however, to do so will require incorporating still-nascent technologies.
“In order for Xcel Energy to achieve our ambitious goal of providing 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050, we need new, carbon free dispatchable technologies to emerge,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy and AEIC member. “If the clean energy transition is going to succeed, that technology needs to provide reliable, affordable electricity in all weather conditions.”
AEIC surveyed the competitive global landscape of energy innovation investment and investigated the roadblocks to bringing new energy technologies to market.
“We’re not going to be able to achieve economy-wide net-zero emissions with wind, solar and batteries alone,” said Addison Stark, associate director for energy innovation at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “We need robust innovation policies—from invention to demonstration and early deployment—to help usher in our net-zero emissions future. This report describes how we can get there.”
The report provides nine recommendations for Congress to effectively support and structure an environment that will accelerate new technology development and deployment. Building on the core recommendations from previous work, including AEIC’s call for a tripling of the federal energy innovation budget, today’s recommendations include that Congress should:
- Increase funding for the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy to $1 billion per year.
- Fund DOE’s Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program at $20 million per year.
- Fund DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions at $16 million per year.
- Consider additional institutional mechanisms to support early-stage commercial projects like the Clean Energy Deployment Administration.
- Consider energy tax provisions focused on supporting the early commercial deployment of new technologies.
- Public procurement programs should be used to establish early market demand for innovative technologies.