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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: August 2014

4 - Encouraging Private Sector Energy Technology Innovation and Public–Private Cooperation



Private sector firms are critical players in energy technology innovation. As described below, the private sector funds and carries out the majority of energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) in the United States. New energy technologies can make significant contributions to major energy challenges only if they are adopted on a broad scale by the private sector.

In this chapter, therefore, we explore two sets of questions. First, what kinds of energy innovation are taking place in the private sector in the United States today, and how can the federal government best encourage them to do more? Second, how can U.S. government energy RD&D partnerships with the private sector – a major part of the federal investment in energy RD&D – be made more effective? As we show in this chapter, improving the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s work with the private sector is important not only because the private sector will ultimately take technologies into the market, but because collaborative work between DOE and others makes up about 30% of the energy RD&D budget and 55% of the Science budget through grants and collaborative agreements. Within energy RD&D especially, for-profit firms receive 60% of all funding for collaborative work, and firms contribute more than they receive to jointly funded projects, so that firms represent 65% of the total collaborative effort.

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