A group of business executives has released a plan to make the U.S. a global leader in energy technology innovation, and in meetings at the White House and with congressional leaders, the group called for urgent action to begin the national transition to clean, affordable and secure supplies of energy.
The American Energy Innovation Council (AEIC) – whose members include Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft; Norm Augustine, former chairman of Lockheed Martin; and Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE – says in its report, ‘A Business Plan for America's Energy Future,’ that reforming and strengthening U.S. investment in energy innovation is the most critical element in securing the country's future.
‘The world faces many challenges, but none is more important than taking immediate and decisive action to develop new, inexpensive clean energy sources that avoid the negative effects of climate change,’ says Gates. ‘Low-cost clean energy is the single most important way to lift poor countries out of poverty and create more stable societies. The whole world would benefit from this, and the United States can and should lead the way. The time for action is now.’
The AEIC plan contains five recommendations:
– Create an independent national energy strategy board,
– Increase annual investments in clean energy research and development by $11 billion to $16 billion per year,
– Create centers of excellence in energy innovation,
– Fund the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy at $1 billion per year, and
– Establish a new energy challenge program for large-scale demonstration projects.
The AEIC recommends the creation of a program to fund, build and accelerate the commercialization of advanced energy technologies. The program should be structured as a joint venture between the federal government and the energy industry, and would operate as an independent corporation outside of the federal government, the group says.
The program would focus on the transition from pre-commercial, large-scale energy systems to integrated, full-size system tests. The AEIC recommends that the program be co-funded by the public and private sectors at an initial level of $20 billion over 10 years, with a single federal appropriation.
The report states that increased investment for energy innovation is such a high national priority that it should be undertaken even in the midst of tight federal budgets. The group also notes that options for generating new revenue for energy innovation investment from the energy sector include reductions in subsidies for fossil fuels, license fees for offshore oil and natural-gas production, the creation of an oil import fee, an increase in the gas tax or charges for carbon emissions.