May 14, 2021

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: “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); “Recommendations to the House Science Committee on Clean Energy Investments for a Long-Term Economic Recovery,” April 13, 2020 (link); “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).

Op-eds and commentaries: “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) “Accelerating Clean Energy Innovation: A Workshop Series,” ITIF Innovation Files, July 17, 2020 (link); “Capitalizing on Federal R&D Investment With a New Energy-Tech Foundation,” Real Clear Energy, July 16, 2020 (link); “Toward a Clean Recovery: Rebooting the Federal Energy Demonstration Portfolio,” Utility Dive, June 17, 2020 (link); “Between the Green New Deal and Business-as-Almost-Usual: A Clean Energy Stimulus That Suits the Circumstances,” ITIF Innovation Files, April 15, 2020 (link); “How Oil Tariffs Can Unite Strange Political Bedfellows,” The Hill, April 2, 2020 (link); “Shut Out the Political Noise and Pass a Strong Climate-Tech Bill,” Morning Consult, February 28, 2020 (link); “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).

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.