Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Progress outside the politics

The Quiet Clean Energy Innovation Revolution at the Department of Energy


America’s clean energy policy has gone through significant changes in the last four years: game-changing public investments in clean energy innovation, funding for ARPA-E, and the creation of collaborative science and research hubs to name a few. Nonetheless, policymakers and clean energy experts all agree that it isn’t enough to address the United States’ staggering energy and climate issues. More aggressive policy support is required. But the federal clean energy policy debate is in such disarray thata full scale advocacy campaign is needed to simply extend one existing clean energy tax credit (the PTC) for one year. It doesn’t inspire much confidence that implementing bigger and better clean energy policy is possible anytime soon.

Yet absent new national policy, significant reforms continue under the radar. Since 2009, clean energy leaders at the Department of Energy (DOE) have undertaken the difficult task of reforming it from within, the goal being to more effectively spur the development of advanced clean energy technologies. As President Obama’s second term starts, the reform torch is being passed to new DOE leaders driven to continue reshaping the agency.

Most recently, forward-looking officials like Assistant Secretary of Energy David Danielson and Acting Chief Operating Officer Matthew Dunne are meticulously implementing institutional reforms at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) – DOE’s advanced R&D and technology demonstration office – aimed at transforming it from a stagnate, thirty year old bureaucracy into America’s premier energy research organization. While not as splashy as the big policy changes of the last four years, this quiet clean energy innovation revolution is a leap in the right direction and absolutely critical to creating a more flexible, innovation-focused DOE mission.

(More here.)


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