- This piece, taken from today’s Wall Street Journal shows that Obama’s Energy Secretary, Steven Chu (finally, a real scientist!) is at least thinking out of the box. Once they realise that it’s not JUST climate change and not JUST energy supplies that need to be solved - it’s the whole non-sustainable nature of much of what we do that needs addressing holistically (I hate to use the word), then we might start to see real progress being made. I suppose I might be one of the “naysayers “ that the article refers to. At least they’re taking things more seriously than Bush and co.
- May 12, 2009, 12:10 PM ET
Secretary Chu: Calling All Cold Fusion Inventors—and Other Revolutionaries
If you’ve got a plan to transform America’s energy future, now’s the time to put it on paper.
Put it in writing
Starting today, the Department of Energy is accepting proposals for energy R&D projects that “disrupt the status quo. The Nation needs transformational energy-related technologies to overcome the threats posed by climate change and energy security, arising from its reliance on traditional uses of fossil fuels and the dominant use of oil in transportation.”
The DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, modelled on a successful Defense Department research scheme, is offering up to $20 million assistance to make moonshots reality. Small thinkers need not apply: “We are not looking for incremental progress on current technologies.”
The $400 million program is part of the Energy Department’s new emphasis on breakthrough technologies. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has repeatedly said that the U.S. needs “Nobel-level” breakthroughs in energy technology in order to tackle the twin challenges of energy security and climate change. Some naysayers figure all the emphasis on technological breakthroughs distracts from the task at hand—using existing technology to tackle the same challenges.
ARPA-E is meant to help get new energy technologies through the “valley of death,” which happens when new ideas can’t make it out of the lab or when they can’t quite make it to market.
What kind of technologies is the DOE looking for? Whatever—as long as they meet four criteria: “reductions of imports of energy from foreign sources; reductions of energy-related emissions, including greenhouse gases; improvement in the energy efficiency of all economic sectors; and ensure that the United States maintains a technological lead in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies.”
That means 90% of the work must be done by American companies on American soil, the DOE says.
Some technology firms are champing at the bit—such as Califon, N.J.-based Energetics Technologies LLC, a firm that’s spent the last eight years working on cold fusion and which helped spark fresh interest in the subject from “60 Minutes.”