America is addicted to fossil fuels, and the environmental and geopolitical costs are mounting. A public-private program-- at an expanded scale-- to stimulate innovation in energy policy seems essential. In Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution, Charles Weiss and William Bonvillian make the case for just such a program. Their proposal backs measures to stimulate private investment in new technology, within a revamped energy innovation system. It would encourage a broad range of innovations that would give policymakers a variety of technological options over the long implementation period and at the huge scale required, faster than could be accomplished by market forces alone. Even if the nation can't make progress at this time on pricing carbon, a technology strategy remains critical and can go ahead now.
Strong leadership and public support will be needed to resist the pressure of entrenched interests against putting new technology pathways into practice in the complex and established energy sector. This book has helped start the process.
About the Authors
Charles Weiss is Distinguished Professor of Science, Technology, and International Affairs at Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service. He was the first Science and Technology Adviser to the World Bank.
William B. Bonvillian is Director of the MIT Washington Office and a former senior adviser in the U.S. Senate. He teaches innovation policy on the adjunct faculty at Georgetown.
"Yes we can! Indeed, this is a book for these times. Providing new vocabulary and new categories, the authors advance the urgently needed conversation about how government can spur the innovations in the energy system that will mitigate climate change. Anyone interested in seeing real progress made by biofuels, renewable electricity, nuclear power, carbon dioxide capture and storage, or auto and building efficiency should read this book."
Robert H. Socolow, Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Co-Director, The Carbon Mitigation Initiative, Princeton University
"This book provides, in a single volume, a clear and beautifully written review of innovation theory and energy technology. It then uses these insights to propose a practical framework for designing a national policy on energy and climate that draws both on theory and on the authors' extensive practical insights into what can actually be achieved through public policy. Anyone interested in designing an energy policy that actually works, escaping ideological battles and the passions of single-technology advocates, should read this book."
Henry Kelly, President, Federation of American Scientists
"To address global warming, one of the great challenges has always been how to drive innovation in the energy sector. Weiss and Bonvillian peer into this black box and emerge with a blueprint for prosperity at a time when the nation desperately needs it. The links between technology, policy, and progress have never been clearer."
Timothy Profeta, Founding Director, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Duke University
"The authors have taken on the enormously important task of describing a workable public policy framework that is needed for transforming our energy system to a fully sustainable state. Finally, a book that not only covers all the critical issues and technology options, but also describes them in a manner which is objective, rational, and digestible."
Jefferson W. Tester, H.P. Meissner Professor of Chemical Engineering, MIT
"This extraordinary book by Charles Weiss and William Bonvillian offers a four-step framework for analysis and action to meet America's need for secure, sustainable, and affordable clean energy. The most technologically advanced and innovative nation on the planet has seemed unable to meet this need because our traditional innovation processes are inadequate. Generating, distributing, and using energy in 21st century America, because of its scale, complexity, and in-place infrastructure, is totally unlike the narrow goals of the oft-cited Apollo or Manhattan Projects. Furthermore, the multitude of technologies and the potential for unpredictable breakthroughs rules out a classical technology roadmap. Weiss and Bonvillian combine experience, analysis, and realpolitik to present a roadmap not for energy technology itself, but for the public-private process to fund, produce, and insert energy innovations into the economy."
Charles M. Vest, President, National Academy of Engineering, President Emeritus, MIT
"For a variety of reasons: geologic, geographic, geopolitical, and environmentalan energy transformation is already underway, but it will take massive investments, technological breakthroughs and thoughtful management as the transition proceeds. As the new Administration (and world leaders) grapple with the dual challenges of energy security and climate change, technology, timing, and scalable delivery systems will be key components in any solution. Weiss and Bonvillian lay out a comprehensive roadmap for guiding policymakers through somewhat uncharted terrain by identifying pathways to successful development and deployment of innovative technologies and make a persuasive case for global cooperative efforts. This is a must-read for sustainable energy futurists!"
Frank Verrastro, Director and Senior Fellow, Energy and National Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies