January 18, 2022

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, where I direct the clean energy innovation policy program. The program’s mission is to provide non-partisan analysis that helps to accelerate the transition of the domestic and global energy systems to low-carbon resources

Recent ITIF work includes:

Reports and briefings: “Clean and Competitive: Opportunities for U.S. Manufacturing Leadership in the Global Low-Carbon Economy” June 21, 2021 (link); “Energizing Innovation: Update with President’s Budget Request,” June 2021 (link); “Building Back Cleaner With Industrial Decarbonization Demonstration Projects,” March 8, 2021 (link); “The Impact of China’s Production Surge on Innovation in the Global Solar Photovoltaics Industry,” October 5, 2020 (link);”Energizing America: A Roadmap to Launch a National Energy Innovation Mission” (with Varun Sivaram, Colin Cunliff,  Julio Friedmann, and David Sandalow), September 15, 2020 (link); “Gene Editing for the Climate: Biological Solutions for Curbing Greenhouse Emissions” (with Val Giddings and Robert Rozansky), September 14, 2020 (link); “More and Better: Building and Managing a Federal Energy Demonstration Project Portfolio” (with Robert Rozansky), May 18, 2020 (link); “Mind the Gap: A Design for a New Energy Technology Commercialization Foundation” (with Jetta L. Wong), May 11, 2020 (link);

Op-eds and commentaries: “Building a US Clean Manufacturing Strategy to Counter China and Tackle Climate Change” (with Stefan Koester), Utility Dive, June 29, 2021 (link); “Biden’s Budget: Why Investing in Innovation Is Crucial to Reach US Climate Goals,” The Conversation, May 26, 2021 (link); “A Clean Energy “Moon Shot” Is Sitting on the Launch Pad, and Congress Can Supply the Fuel. Here’s How” (with Colin Cunliff and Linh Nguyen), ITIF Innovation Files, May 17, 2021 (link); “How a Government-Linked Foundation Could Speed the Spread of New Clean-Energy Technologies,” The Conversation, October 7, 2020 (link); “Gene Editing: The New Frontier for Climate Innovation” (with Val Giddings and Robert Rozansky), Real Clear Science, October 2, 2020 (link); “Oases in the Valley of Death,” Nature Energy, September 21, 2020 (link – paywalled) .

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.