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Posts tagged “demonstration projects”

By Matthew Stepp on Jan 17, 2013 with 1 response

Breaking Down the Federal Clean Energy Innovation Budget: Demonstration Projects

This is Part 3 of a series of posts analyzing and detailing federal investments in clean energy innovation. Part 1 defined “clean energy innovation” and Part 2 broke down the federal clean energy innovation budget.

Why Government Investment in Demonstration Projects Can Be Controversial

Transforming the U.S. (and global) energy system from fossil fuels to low-carbon technologies requires a healthy, publicly supported innovation ecosystem that invests in and supports research, development, demonstration, and deployment. But as discussed in Part 2 of this series, America’s energy innovation ecosystem is “hollowed out”, particularly because of reduced investment in technology demonstration projects.

At its very basic level, technology demonstration projects exhibit full-scale models of first-of-kind technologies and systems, as opposed to pilot projects (e.g. an ARPA-E project), which aim to simply prove a technical idea. Demonstration projects aim to prove a technology at commercial scale.

Clean energy demonstration projects are an area of extreme policy debate and controversy for two reasons.

First, clean energy demonstration projects are often capital-intensive projects that require significant investment and public-private collaboration, typically invoking considerable attention because of large budgets.

Second, clean energy demonstration projects are often viewed as too close to market and not an appropriate role of government investment. As such, it’s a turbulent area of clean energy innovation policy.