The need for a flourishing energy technology sector, both in the United States and worldwide, is now more pertinent than it has ever been before. As populations around the globe continue to grow and the middle classes of such massive societies as China and India are booming and, therefore, so too their ever-expanding energy demand, the demand for traditional fossil fuels and thereby the stress on our increasingly delicate environment is also greater than ever.
Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a damning study that showed that in order to comply with the goals set by the Paris agreement (by keeping global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial averages this century), we will have to cut worldwide carbon emissions down by 45 percent by 2030 and all the way down to zero by the middle of the century.
With energy demand growing and the pressing need to stop the flow of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere dovetailing into a particularly dire predicament for the planet, energy tech innovation is more needed than ever. Unfortunately, in the United States, Department of Energy regulations have sometimes hindered energy tech research and development instead of helping the sector to grow and diversify.
Until now, however, the United States Department of Energy has prohibited researchers from sharing early-stage tests of energy tech research with the private sector to bolster interest and investment in early, critical stages of research and development. As of this week, however, that is finally going to change.
The United States Department of Energy’s technology transfer program “is designed as a bridge between government and industry research—an opportunity for the agency to work on bleeding-edge technologies that can be transitioned to the private sector, creating economies and allowing those innovations to blossom” as explained by Nextgov, but it’s not until now that they are making this crucial policy change to bring the private sector into energy tech development at an earlier junction. Related: Trump Scrambles To Win Back Angry Farmers
This is being accomplished, at long last, via the Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act. Although the act was instated in September of last year, this newest development is the result of a Tuesday regulation change “that will allow the agency to use technology transfer funds to perform these demos.” Before this week’s addendum, the act only allowed its funding to be used for three specific initiatives:
- Obtaining, maintaining, licensing and assigning intellectual property rights.
- Increasing the potential for the transfer of technology.
- Providing widespread notice of technology transfer opportunities.
With the new regulation change introduced this week, a fourth funding category will be added to this list, which will read: “Early stage and precommercial technology demonstration to remove barriers that limit private sector interest and demonstrate potential commercial applications of any research and technologies arising from laboratory activities.”
As explained by Nextgov, “Using that authority, the department will be able to use tech transfer funds to hold demo days where it can showcase some of the innovations the national laboratories are working on in the hopes of whetting the private sector’s appetite to take them further. [...] The department is not required to leave the rule open for public comment prior to it being enacted. However, the public notice does ask for feedback on the kinds of “early stage and precommercial technology demonstration activities” private sector partners would like to see.”
This additional opportunity for funding will allow for more flexibility in the energy tech industry that will then, if all goes accordingly, allow for and encourage more robust research and development into new, innovative approaches to the energy industry that the world so sorely needs in order to more effectively wean ourselves off of emissions-heavy fossil fuels.
By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com
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