An Important Report on Energy RD&D
Michael Levi’s Blog, Council on Foreign Relations
December 16, 2010
Featured: Energy Technology Innovation Policy (ETIP) research group
Topic: Energy RD&D

“Comparing government investment in energy RD&D is difficult to do, particularly in a meaningful way, and the new study looks to me like the best effort yet (by far). But there are still some difficult issues that remain unresolved. The last ‘D’ in RD&D is defined very differently in different countries, and since it tends to be the most expensive part of the mix, that can strongly distort the comparisons. (The ETIP study, for example, seems to include Brazilian energy efficiency programs in its total; I wouldn’t.) Even trickier, RD&D totals for the BRIMCS are dominated by China, whose economy is itself dominated by the government and by state-owned enterprises. That makes government investment in RD&D there inevitably a larger fraction than it is in, say, the United States.

What I find particularly valuable about the ETIP study, though, is its careful description and analysis of how energy RD&D is handled within the various governments. What departments are responsible? How do they interact? What are their key planning documents? This is all invaluable stuff (my colleagues and I certainly could have benefited from it while doing fieldwork for our recent energy innovation study), and it’s all worth digging in to.”

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