Many of the promising technologies we need to mitigate the worst effects of climate change—including systems to produce clean hydrogen, capture carbon from the atmosphere, and store energy on the electricity grid for long periods—are nearly ready for commercial deployment. But customers won’t buy them until they have been demonstrated successfully under real-world conditions—an expensive but essential step to reduce the risk that they will fail to perform as expected based on smaller-scale tests. Extensive research shows that many promising innovations will wind up stranded in the pipeline from research and development to the commercial marketplace unless the federal government shares the significant costs of these demonstration projects. But the federal record in this regard is mixed, with impressive successes, dismal failures, and long periods of stagnant investment.
ITIF released a new report about how the United States can build a robust energy technology demonstration portfolio and a panel of experts assessed leading proposals to better manage it.