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What the Cromnibus Means for Energy Innovation

The 113th U.S. Congress made passing a budget one of its last legislative acts of 2014. Yesterday President Obama signed into law the $1.1 trillion federal appropriations bill, called the Cromnibus (Continuing Resolution Omnibus), which includes appropriations for all federal agencies. While much of the bill’s public attention focused on the political opposition from factions on both the left and the right, the Cromnibus, like all federal appropriations, represent a critical pillar of U.S. clean energy innovation policy.

Federal Investments in Clean Energy Innovation Hold Steady

DOEKeyOfficesFY2015

Of course, the largest source of investments in clean energy innovation comes from the Department of Energy and its research offices. The above graph shows that the FY2015 Cromnibus bill tracks closely to the FY2015 President’s Request, and is even closer to the funding allocated through the FY2014 Omnibus. Funding for the Office of Science and the Offices of Nuclear, Fossil R&D, and Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability remained relatively unchanged compared to past years. Appropriations for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for FY2015 are $360 million lower than those included in the President’s request and $200 million below the FY2014 allocation.  The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) […]

  • CMU students at hydraulic fracturing site.
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    Bridging the Valley of Death: Successfully Moving Energy Breakthroughs from Lab to Market

Bridging the Valley of Death: Successfully Moving Energy Breakthroughs from Lab to Market

Canon House Office Building
Room 121
C Street SE
Washington, DC 20003

Wednesday, December 10, 2014
12PM – 1:30PM

Watch the video. 

A major challenge in bringing down the cost of clean energy technologies is bridging the so-called “valley of death”—the state of technology development where many promising discoveries die because they are not sufficiently advanced to attract private sector partners or venture funding even though they may hold tremendous potential impact. This problem plagues a host of clean energy technologies, such as next-gen solar and advanced batteries, and it is the source of considerable policy debate and program experimentation.

But some universities and research laboratories are advancing their technology transfer capabilities to try and address the valley of death. For example, Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) faculty and students have leveraged their technology transfer prowess to spin out more than 130 companies over the past five years and have attracted approximately $400 million of outside investment. In addition, CMU is a leading research center for breakthrough energy technology development.

Please join the Center for Clean Energy Innovation and Carnegie Mellon University’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation to learn how CMU is trying to bridge the valley of death and how its efforts can translate to other […]

By |December 1st, 2014|Events|Comments Off|
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    CCEI Praises Introduction of Microlab Technology Commercialization Act

CCEI Praises Introduction of Microlab Technology Commercialization Act

WASHINGTON (November 19, 2014) –Following the introduction of the Microlab Technology Commercialization Act of 2014 (MTCA) by U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Matthew Stepp, Executive Director of ITIF’s Center for Clean Energy Innovation (CCEI) issues the following statement:

“As CCEI and the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program noted in Going Local: Connecting the National Labs to their Regions for Innovation and Growth, the Department of Energy’s National Laboratory system is a tremendous resource that currently conducts $12.5 billion in publicly funded R&D annually on a wide range of national issues, including high performance computing, energy innovation and advanced manufacturing. Unfortunately, legacy operating procedures limit the Labs’ ability to successfully transfer technologies from research to market, while also reducing engagement with the regional economies in which they are located. This environment has limited the system’s ability to promote transformative innovation and reduced its overall contributions to U.S. economic growth.

The MTCA would assist in addressing this policy gap through the establishment of off-campus micro labs that would serve as the “front-door” to the nation’s various national laboratories. They would provide academia, local government, businesses owners, and communities’ direct access to laboratory equipment, facilities, and personnel, while also increasing community engagement and partnership […]

CCEI Commends U.S.-China Climate and Innovation Agreement

WASHINGTON – (November 12, 2014) The Center for Clean Energy (CCEI) commends the United States and China’s joint agreement to advance more ambitious carbon reductions through 2030. The announcement opens the door to more meaningful, innovation-based international climate negotiations, set to conclude in Paris at the end of 2015.

Most importantly, the agreement shows prioritization by both the United States and China to expand collaborative investments in clean energy innovation through joint carbon capture and sequestration pilot projects, smart grid projects, and the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC). Increasing investments in international demonstration projects and research collaborations are vital for reducing costs and improving performance of zero-carbon energy technology options, which are imperative to successfully transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy without hurting the global economy.

“This announcement is a major step forward in international climate negotiations, not necessarily because of the top-line carbon cuts, but because of the underlying agreement to strengthen collaboration on clean energy innovation,” says Matthew Stepp, Executive Director of CCEI, an affiliate research institute of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). “The agreement makes clear that advancing clean energy innovation and making bolder cuts in carbon come hand in hand. It’s a model […]

By |November 14th, 2014|Blog, Climate Change, Energy Technologies, International Policy|Comments Off|

The Hill – Better Buildings Challenge

How the DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge is Pushing Deep Decarbonization

Matthew Stepp
Published November 10, 2014

The Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge is driving building owners to reach beyond low-hanging fruit in favor of more transformative, deep-decarbonization goals.

By |November 10th, 2014|Climate Change, Energy Technologies, Federal Policy, Op-ed|Comments Off|

Christian Science Monitor – Energy Poverty

Slow Climate Change or End Energy Poverty? Let’s Do Both

Kara Goolman and Megan Nicholson
Published November 6, 2014

The goal of curbing global greenhouse gas emissions can sometimes appear at odds with efforts to expand electricity access to the 1.3 billion around the world without it. But it is feasible to make progress on both fronts if policymakers properly address energy innovation as part of a global climate strategy.

By |November 10th, 2014|Climate Change, Federal Policy, International Policy, Op-ed|Comments Off|

The Alternative to the Climate Nuclear Option is Innovation

Out of fear the world is running out of time to aggressively act against climate change, some climate advocates are calling for the climate nuclear option: limiting economic growth to deeply decarbonize the global economy. It’s easy to see why—world leaders continue to propose weak policy options that all but guarantee dangerous global warming. Yet pitting economic growth against climate mitigation misses a crucial caveat: deep decarbonization and economic growth can be accomplished at the same time if nations significantly expand pro-growth clean energy innovation policies to rapidly speed-up technology advancement.

According to the International Energy Agency, even if every country—including the United States—meets its voluntary carbon targets, global emissions will still be 60 percent higher than necessary to prevent dangerous warming. It’s clear cautiously cutting carbon emissions will not, in the long-term, position the world to adequately fight climate change.

So what is preventing countries from committing to deep decarbonization? Most countries recognize deep decarbonization through conventional climate policies like carbon pricing represent to high an economic cost in the short-term. High income countries are hesitant to aggressively deploy clean energy because of the potential for higher energy costs and grid reliability issues that not only impact consumer spending, […]

The Problems and Promise of Global Clean Tech Trade

Rayburn House Office Building
45 Independence Ave SW
Room B-318
Washington, DC 20515

Friday, November 21, 2014
10AM – 11:30AM

Watch the video.

Fair and unfettered global trade is a cornerstone of an affordable, competitive, and innovative low-carbon energy sector. Namely, the growing clean tech industry requires large global markets to sell more products, scale manufacturing, and reinvest more revenue back into next-generation technologies. By extension, robust trade is necessary towards decarbonizing the global economy and addressing climate change.

But significant barriers to advancing international trade have plagued global clean tech growth. The solar trade dispute between the United States and China is impacting the deployment of first-generation solar panels. China’s use of cyber hacking to gain industrial intelligence has further complicated clean tech trade relations. Companies in some emerging economies are relying on intellectual property theft to catch-up to more innovative competitors. And many countries are implementing unfair “green mercantilist” policies to boost domestic industries and wipeout international competition.

As a result, significant market uncertainty threatens rapid international growth and the industries innovation capacity is hindered at a time when the world needs more low-carbon technological advancement, not less.

Please join the Center for Clean Energy Innovation and a panel of leading experts to discuss the barriers […]

By |November 4th, 2014|Events|Comments Off|

The Hill – National Labs

Time for the National Labs to Go Local

Matthew Stepp and Mark Muro
Published September 25, 2014

Ask any tech entrepreneur or start-up founder what they know about the Department of Energy’s (DOE) national laboratories and most will shrug their shoulders. A few may refer to the famed Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb — the impetus for creating the labs in the 1940s. Even fewer will know how to engage with the labs to advance their business. This gap needs to be lessened if we hope to further leverage the expertise of the labs to spur innovation and economic growth.

By |October 7th, 2014|Federal Policy, Innovation Ecosystem, Op-ed, Regional Clusters|Comments Off|

Can Mitigating Global Climate Change be a Free Lunch?

Paul Krugman launched the latest salvo in the battle over the economics of climate change when he recently announced: “Saving the planet would be cheap; it might even be free.” Unfortunately, his pronouncement ignores critical nuances on policy and technology that lead him to the wrong conclusion that climate mitigation is a free lunch.

Historically, economists have haggled over the true costs of burning fossil fuels and the social cost of carbon, but Krugman’s assessment is a newer argument around the true benefits of decarbonizing the global economy. The basic idea is that stating climate solutions will ruin the economy are wrong and society will actually see a net benefit to a low-carbon economy in the long-term.

This narrative got its start when climate advocates latched onto an IPCC finding that under strict assumptions of policy, technology readiness, and technology deployment mitigating climate change would only cost between 0.04 and 0.14 percent of global GDP per year through 2100—a pittance compared to the potential costs of runaway climate change.

Except that advocates can’t ignore the underlying challenges for making this scenario a reality – for example, the IPCC finding is driven by the implementation of a global carbon price, which […]