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White House details massive clean-tech spending plan

E&E News

Monday, February 8, 2016

The White House outlined a sweeping plan this weekend to double clean energy research spending over five years as part of a global effort to fight climate change.

The massive proposal — which involves 12 federal agencies and envisions a 20 percent increase in energy research and development in the president’s coming budget — is meant to be the meat on the bones of the “Mission Innovation” initiative launched at last year’s climate talks in Paris.

There, 20 countries pledged to double their clean energy R&D in five years to help ensure long-term carbon emission cuts. The plan has ties to a coalition of billionaire entrepreneurs like Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who pledged investments to move transformational energy technologies from lab to market.

The idea is to help bridge the “valley of death” witnessed by many promising clean energy technologies that never reach the commercial stage but could help slash greenhouse gas emissions…

The White House has said that, despite falling costs for technologies like solar and electric vehicles, the pace of innovation is falling short of what is needed to hold temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius by century’s end.

The new plan is “much more in line with the scale of investment we need to be making … to really fully leverage the strength of the national innovation ecosystem, especially given the scale both of the challenge of climate change and the market opportunity that many of these technologies are going to present,” said Brad Townsend, associate director for energy innovation for the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Energy Project.