In the last week, two news stories really captured the potential future for nuclear energy. The New York Times Matthew Wald reported from Georgia, where construction crews are slowly building the first two new nuclear reactors in thirty years. And National Geographic’s Will Ferguson reported from Tennessee that engineers and scientists are taking core samples and mapping regional geology as part of the early planning stages of building the first small modular nuclear reactor in the world. Both projects face unique challenges, yet they both represent the beginning of two potential nuclear paths for reducing climate-warming carbon emissions in the United States (and potentially the world).
Making Sense of Government Energy Innovation Policy Through Lawn Care
An efficient, well-oiled energy innovation ecosystem includes and requires federal support across numerous development and technology pathways, which also support each other. While the U.S. energy innovation ecosystem is grossly underfunded, special policy care is also necessary to ensure that its structure is well connected.
The Impact of Budget Sequestration on DOD Energy Innovation
The impacts of budget sequestration are slowly being unveiled to the general public. Furloughs at the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) led to air traffic gridlock and angry travelers. Parks and national tourist sites are cutting back hours. And the Department of Defense (DOD) recently announced furloughs for 680,000 civilian employees. While these short-term impacts are painful, in particular to those losing work hours and income, sequestration is initiating cuts with negative, long-term impacts, which are not yet immediately apparent. One area of specific concern is the potential $381 million in cuts to energy innovation investments at the DOD – a 25 percent cut compared to FY2012 levels.
Climate Hawks Should Aggressively Support the America COMPETES Act
The American COMPETES Act strengthens the very foundation that the emerging clean energy industry must rely on for present and future growth. Advocates seeking to address climate change should support its reform and reauthorization, as it directly reinforces the science and technology institutions that underpin U.S. innovation.
DOE Proposes Expanding High Impact Energy Innovation Incubator Program
The President’s FY2014 budget contains an interesting reform within the Department of Energy that would create eight new incubator programs at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. These incubators, modeled on the department’s current SunShot Incubator, could significantly impact the ability of the department to bring emerging and breakthrough clean energy technologies to commercial scale.
Thomas Friedman’s Evolving Support for an Innovation Carbon Tax
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is nothing but consistent: he wants a carbon tax and he wants it bad. While it’s a stretch to say that Friedman has thrown aside his faulty neoclassical proclivities on the role of price signals and energy innovation, his potential evolution is important nonetheless. Friedman has been one of the most vocal supporters of climate policy and innovation (while often not at the same time). Bringing both together to create a cohesive carbon tax proposal moves the needle towards the type of innovation-based climate policies America needs to be debating and ultimately implementing. It reframes U.S. climate advocates’ near-myopic focus on carbon pricing, mandates, and subsidies and expands the discussion on how we can use those tools to spur innovation. It’s certainly a step in the right direction.