Regional, National and International Clean Energy Innovation

 

On the domestic front, energy resources, infrastructure, research capacity and capability, economies, energy demand, and employment profiles dramatically vary by region. Also, new energy technologies, environmental and national security imperatives, and consumer preferences have created significant opportunities for economic development and jobs. These opportunities are not, however, evenly distributed across the country.  Recent analysis concluded that 12 of the top 15 clean energy innovation ecosystems in the U.S. are on East, West or Gulf Coasts. 

 

The importance and value of energy-related regional differences in the U.S. was highlighted in the National Academy of Sciences 2016 Report, The Power of Change: Innovation for Development and Deployment of Increasingly Clean Electric Power Technologies. This report noted the potential of the federal government to support a “network of local, state, or regional public/private partnerships, called regional energy innovation and development institutes (REIDIs) that would help spur the development of innovations showing the most promise. Where capabilities already exist, this network would facilitate access; where capabilities do not already exist, it would help identify likely development needs for promising technologies and fund or plan and create the support capabilities, physical infrastructure (where applicable), and translational relationships that might be needed for simulation, testing, standards development, and certification.”

Several regions of the country have evolved highly successful innovation ecosystems. Analysis of these ecosystems reveal common factors, including a vibrant research community developing new intellectual property, an active investor community, presence of large corporations that serve both as partners and markets for new technologies, robust networking assets such as large research universities, and an enabling public policy environment. Other regions have shown interest in exploring opportunities to develop their own regionally-based clean energy ecosystems.

In the international arena, 22 countries plus the EU have become members of Mission Innovation, agreeing to double over five years their governmental investments in clean energy research and development, from a 2016 baseline. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition of international investors was announced at COP21 in parallel with Mission Innovation. These and other investors are poised to take the output of an enhanced innovation pipeline to development, deployment and ultimately scaling. In Morocco, Mission Innovation members presented their baselines and doubling amounts.

The U.S. Mission Innovation portfolio articulated in the FY17 budget request, and the FY18 notional budget prepared by the Department of Energy in January 2017, increased investment in robust clean energy innovation and put the U.S. on a trajectory to meeting its doubling commitment by 2021. This goal is threatened by the Trump Administration’s budget proposal, which cuts clean energy investment by 45 percent from the baseline. That would concede the U.S. competitive advantage in this important area.

New projects and programs that would be supported by Mission Innovation include:

  • 5 new Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs)
  • Seed funding to establish Regional Clean Energy Innovation Partnerships, covering all 50 states
  • Funding for licensing support, technical design, siting and pre-commercial activities for a new generation of small modular reactors
  • Increased funding for three existing Bioenergy Research Centers (BRCs), with plans for new competition in FY18
  • An expanded National Laboratory user facilities operation to 100 percent of optimal use
  • An expanded multi-year exascale computing initiative
  • Increased ARPA-E funding for 7-8 new solicitations
  • 2 new advanced carbon capture FEED studies (oxy combustion, chemical looping)
  • 2 new advanced carbon capture pilot plants (post combustion, including natural gas)
  • An offshore wind R&D consortium 

Initial Projects for Regional, National and International Clean Energy Innovation

EFI will write select white papers and meet with stakeholders to discuss and develop projects from several priority options:

✓ EFI will support and encourage new initiatives, undertaking analyses and designing implementation strategies for the establishment of regional clean energy innovation ecosystems.

  • EFI will analyze lessons learned from existing and successful state and regional clean energy ecosystems, including those in other countries, e.g. Italy.

✓ EFI will work with state, regional and local stakeholders to better coordinate their work with the federal government and to more closely integrate its current narrowly-scoped categorical energy programs.

✓ EFI will work with Mission Innovation countries on strategic clean energy research portfolio development, including bi- and multi-lateral collaboration and links to the international investing community.