Three billion dollars. That's the amount of cash the U.S. Department of Energy could devote to its research budget to get more plug-in vehicles on the road.
On Tuesday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu revealed a strategy designed to reduce oil imports and slash pollution, one that could shift billions of research dollars towards plug-in vehicles and modernizing our grid. In its first-ever "Quadrennial Technology Review," (PDF) the DOE prioritized research that it deems could be ready for commercialization within ten years. Plug-in vehicles grabbed a spot on the list.

The Nobel Award-winning Chu stated:
The stakes are high for our country, and I am optimistic that we can still lead the world in technological innovation. With this QTR, we bind together multiple energy technologies with the goal of transforming our energy system. By unleashing technological innovation, we can help create new jobs and industries while building a cleaner, more efficient, and more competitive economy.
In all, the DOE-QTR emphasis six key strategies: increasing vehicle efficiency; electrification of the light-duty fleet; deployment of alternative fuels; increasing industrial efficiency; modernizing the electrical grid; and deployment of clean electricity. The DOE's spending totaled $3 billion in fiscal year 2011, so investing billions of dollars into plug-ins would certainly make sense in a multi-year plan.
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Department of Energy Releases Inaugural Quadrennial Technology Review Report

September 27, 2011 - 1:09pm

Report Provides a Roadmap for Advancing Key Energy Technologies and Outlines a Clear Vision of the Department's Goals for Energy Innovation

WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy Department today released it's inaugural Quadrennial Technology Review report (DOE-QTR) – an assessment of the Department's energy technology research and development portfolios. The DOE-QTR establishes a robust framework for the Department's energy technology activities, including principles it can use to prioritize its technology research and development. Inspired by the Quadrennial Defense Review, the DOE-QTR was recommended by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) as an initial step toward a government-wide Quadrennial Energy Review to help formulate a national energy policy.

"Innovation in energy technology is going to be central to solving our energy challenges," said John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Co-Chair of PCAST. "New energy technologies can reduce the cost of energy services to firms and families, improve the productivity of manufacturing, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, increase the reliability and resilience of our energy infrastructure, and reduce the risks from climate change, even as they strengthen and sustain U.S. competitiveness in global markets."

"With this QTR, we bind together multiple energy technologies with the goal of transforming our energy system," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "By unleashing technological innovation, we can help create new jobs and industries while building a cleaner, more efficient, and more competitive economy."

In an effort to address our nation's challenges, energy security and U.S. competitiveness, the DOE-QTR defines six key strategies: increase vehicle efficiency; electrification of the light duty fleet; deploy alternative fuels; increase building and industrial efficiency; modernize the electrical grid; and deploy clean electricity. Findings of the DOE-QTR include:

DOE should give greater emphasis to the transport sector relative to the stationary sector.
Among the transport strategies, DOE will devote its greatest effort to electrification of the vehicle fleet, a sweet spot for pre-competitive DOE R&D.
Within the stationary heat and power sector, the DOE-QTR finds that the Department should increase emphasis on efficiency and understanding the grid. It states that the Department's role as a source of information and as a convener of interested parties, two functions that are often underestimated, are unique and indispensible in advancing energy technologies.
Finally, the DOE-QTR highlights the need for the Department to develop stronger, more integrated policy, economics, and technical analyses of its research and development activities.

"With nearly 90% of the energy system owned and operated by the private sector, the DOE-QTR recognizes that the Department is not the sole agent in transforming the system," said DOE Under Secretary Steven Koonin. "Through discussions with hundreds of energy stakeholders, we have learned that, beyond our technology development activities, the Department's unique role as a convener and source of accurate techno-economic information is a great public benefit."

The DOE-QTR binds together multiple energy technologies, as well as multiple DOE energy technology programs, in the common purpose of solving our energy challenges. The DOE-QTR provides a multi-year framework for program planning by looking at a broader longer-term view than the annual budget process; allowing the Department to provide the consistent and predictable support necessary to for the success of our research, development, and demonstration activities.

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