Renewable Energy Technologies Won’t Achieve Their Full Decarbonization Potential Without Concerted Federal Investments, New ITIF Report Shows
WASHINGTON—Innovation in renewable energy technologies, tapping solar, wind, geothermal, and water resources, could unlock massive additional decarbonization opportunities, but not without increased, sustained, and well-targeted federal investments, according to a new report released today by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), world’s leading think tank for science and technology policy.
If clean energy is to supplant fossil fuels fully, particularly in the developing world, then it must become even more affordable and reliable that it has so far. ITIF’s report points to six key areas that are particularly promising—solar photovoltaics, wind, geothermal, concentrating solar, hydro, and marine power—and argues that federal research, development, and demonstration programs must focus on overcoming challenges to bring innovations to maturity and jumpstart deployment.
“A complete, rapid transition to a low-carbon energy system will only be achieved if clean technologies that can power homes, cars, businesses, and factories are able to match the tremendous convenience provided by fossil fuels,” says the report’s author, Rob Rozansky. “While the task is far from easy, renewable energy technologies have already begun to deliver on their great promise to become the foundations of a clean economy. Advanced renewables that can provide firm power to alleviate the variability plaguing today’s solar PV and wind systems are particularly important to pursue in light of the challenges that face firm power options like nuclear power and carbon capture.”
In order to maximize the chance of a successful energy transition, governments ought to invest in innovation that will address key challenges and seize opportunities to accelerate innovation in renewables, shows the ITIF report. Federal investment in RD&D should pursue technologies that are cheaper, higher performing, viable in broader geographies, better integrated within the grid, more environmentally sustainable, and a boon to domestic economic growth.
“There’s no time to waste; Congress should significantly increase the Department of Energy’s funding for renewable energy research, development, and demonstration,” adds Rozansky. “Congress and the DOE should ensure wind and solar PV, the two major variable renewable technologies, provide the bulk of new low-carbon energy capacity by driving RD&D to improve the efficiency of generating devices and promoting their integration into the electric grid. And Congress should also support the improvement of firm renewable power technologies that would offer reliability for a grid dominated by variable renewables, by ensuring they can be deployed in diverse locations at low costs.”
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The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is an independent, nonpartisan research and educational institute focusing on the intersection of technological innovation and public policy. Recognized as the world’s leading science and technology think tanks, ITIF’s mission is to formulate and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress. Learn more at itif.org