June 6, 2020

Energy Innovation

Energy systems are among the most complex and consequential technological systems. They have manifold impacts on both society and the environment, shaping economic and social opportunities and threatening harm on a planetary scale. Tracing the evolution of these systems and conceiving societal interventions that will nudge them in new directions is the primary focus of my research.

I have served since July 2016 as a senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, writing about low-carbon energy innovation policy for the United States and participating in the policy dialogue. Recent work includes:

Reports and briefings: “Less Certain than Death: Using Tax Incentives to Drive Clean Energy Innovation,” ITIF report, December 2, 2019 (link); Response to Request for Information submitted to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, November 22, 2019 (link); Global Energy Innovation Index: National Contributions to the Global Clean Energy Innovation System,” ITIF report, August 26, 2019 (link); “Two Tools for Two Jobs: Carbon Taxes and Energy Technology Tax Incentives,” ITIF briefing, July 3, 2019 (link); “Energy Storage RD&D in the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Proposal,” March 27, 2019; “Clean Energy Based Regional Economic Development: Multiple Tracks for State and Local Policies in a Federal System,” February 25, 2019; “Making “Beyond Lithium” a Reality: Fostering Innovation in Long-Duration Grid Storage,” November 28, 2018; “Manufacturing USA at DOE: Supporting Energy Innovation” (with Peter L. Singer), May 16, 2018; Storage for the Grid:  Policy Options for Sustaining Innovation” MIT Energy Initiative working paper (with William B. Bonvillian and Nathaniel Austin), April 26, 2018; Energy RD&D:  Building on Momentum in Fiscal 2019” (with Colin Cunliff); “ARPA-E:  Versatile Catalyst for U.S. Energy Innovation,” (with Michael Kearney, November 2017); “Crossing the Valley of Death:  Designing and Running Successful Clean-Energy Demonstration Projects,” (July 2017); “Bad Blueprint:  Why Trump Should Ignore the Heritage Plan to Gut Federal Investment” (with Stephen Ezell and Robert D. Atkinson, February 2017); “Energy Innovation Policy:  Priorities for the Trump Administration and Congress” (with Varun Sivaram, Teryn Norris, and Colin McCormick, December 2016); “Rescuing the Low-Carbon Energy Transition from Magical Thinking” (October 2016)

Op-eds: “Driving Cleaner Energy Through the Tax Code,” Ithaca (NY) Journal, December 21, 2019; “Pay Attention to the Other Paris Climate Agreement,” ITIF Innovation Files, November 27, 2019 (link); “Why a Measured Transition to Electric Vehicles Would Benefit the US,” The Conversation, November 26, 2019 (link); “How to Tell If a Candidate Has a Serious Climate Plan,” Inside Sources, June 17, 2019 (link); “Energy Ministers: Don’t Panic. Don’t Declare Victory. Accelerate Innovation.” Innovation Files, May 24, 2019;   “Declare Cold War on Global Warming,” Inside Sources, April 23, 2019; Congress: Do Your Job. Leave the Green New Deal to the Presidential Candidates,” Morning Consult, March 27, 2019 “The Green New Deal’s Achilles Heel,” ITIF blog post, February 8, 2019; “Action on Climate and Energy: Beyond Partisan Talking Points,” The Hill, January 13, 2019; “Lessons To Learn from the Carbon Tax Backlash,” Real Clear Policy, December 21, 2018; “Long-Duration Energy Storage R&D: An Opportunity for American Climate Leadership,” Utility Dive, December 14, 2018 “To Keep Clean Energy Manufacturing Booming, Sustain PowerAmerica and Manufacturing USA at DOE,” Energy Central, August 24, 2018; “A Better Approach at the EPA: Use Regulation to Drive Innovation?,” Morning Consult, August 3, 2018; “Fuel Economy Freeze Will Leave U.S. Auto Industry in the Dust,” Detroit Free Press, August 10, 2018; Mission Innovation: Despite Trump, America Is Still In,” Energy Collective, May 23, 2018; “DOE Research, Development, and Demonstration Funding: Keep on Growin,’” Utility Dive, April 13, 2018; “To Build a Battery Industry, New York Needs Help from Washington,” syracuse.com, February 6, 2018; “Don’t Let China Clean Our Clock in Clean Energy,” Energy Collective (with Michael Kearney, December 20, 2017);  “A Department of Energy Foundation:  An Idea Whose Time Has Come,” (with Stephen Ezell), The Hill, December 19, 2017; “From NIMBY to PIMBY on Wind Farms,Lincoln (NE) Journal Star, October 25, 2017; “Congress Should Come Up with a Real Budget for Clean Energy Innovation,” The Hill (July 28, 2017); “Energy Dominance Is Un-American,” Morning Consult (July 6, 2017); “The Little Agency that Does:  Why the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Must Be Funded, Not Eliminated,” Washington Times (June 18, 2017); “How States and Localities Can Limit the Fallout from Trump’s Withdrawal from Paris,” Brookings Institution’s The Avenue (June 2, 2017; “We Can Cut Carbon Emissions, Trump or No Trump,” Richmond Times Dispatch (May 26, 2017); “Alternative Energy Is Now MainstreamWashington Examiner (April 24, 2017); “Go Native, Mr. SecretaryThe Hill (March 2, 2017);  “It’s Time for America’s Own Paris AgreementAustin American-Statesman (March 1, 2017); “Focus, Reform, Invest,” Morning Consult (December 16, 2016); “Trade War or Innovation Race,” Europe’s World (December 15, 2016); “Clean Energy Innovation:  A Way to Crack America’s Frozen Climate,” Morning Consult (October 27, 2016).

In 2015-2016, I worked with public policy doctoral students Kurt Birson and Alfred Sarkissian to prepare case studies of grid-scale batteries and solar photovoltaic electricity generation for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis.

This work builds on the book Unlocking Energy Innovation:  How America Can Build a Low-Cost, Low-Carbon Energy System (MIT Press 2011), written with Richard K. Lester, the head of the MIT nuclear science and engineering department.  Based on a three year study with colleagues at MIT’s Industrial Performance Center and supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the book envisions an energy innovation system that is not only larger than today’s, but also more diverse, more competitive, more entrepreneurial, and more deeply-rooted in the country’s regional strengths.