Spring 2012

Stimulating Energy Technology Innovation

Ernest J. Moniz

The innovation system has interrelated components of invention, translation, adoption, and diffusion. Energy technology innovation has lagged that in other domains, and there is a compelling public interest in picking up the pace through appropriate government action. Government and universities are creating new approaches in the invention and translation stages. The Department of Energy (DOE) has implemented novel programs such as ARPA-E. Research universities have moved closer to the marketplace through more diversified industry collaboration models, such as convening research-sponsoring companies both horizontally in a sector and vertically across the innovation chain. Much more needs to be done to expand public-private partnerships and to define a broadly accepted government role in the adoption and diffusion stages. An administration-wide Quadrennial Energy Review process, informed by technical analysis and social science research, offers the best opportunity in this regard.

ERNEST J. MONIZ is the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems and Director of the Energy Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served as Under Secretary of the Department of Energy and as Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President during the Clinton administration. He currently serves on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

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