If America wants to get off of oil – and, in general, green up our energy supply – what will it take? Lots and lots of federal dollars, that's what. Three times as much as the government spends now, according to a group of business executives who are calling for the increased spending in a study released yesterday.
The group, called the American Energy Innovation Council, includes people like Bill Gates, the CEOs of Cummins and General Electric and others and warns us that our continued reliance on dirty energy will hurt us. The executive summary starts this way:
As business leaders, we feel that America's current energy system is deficient in ways that cause serious harm to our economy, our national security, and our environment. To correct these deficiencies, we must make a serious commitment to modernizing our energy system with cleaner, more efficient technologies.

Such a commitment should include both robust, public investments in innovative energy technologies as well as policy reforms to deploy these technologies on a large scale. By tapping America's entrepreneurial spirit and longstanding leadership in technology innovation, we can set a course for a prosperous, sustainable economy-and take control of our energy future.

Conversely, if we continue with the energy status quo, we will expose ourselves to risks that pose significant threats to our way of life
The Council issued five specific recommendations:
  1. Create an independent national energy strategy board.
  2. Invest $16 billion per year in clean energy innovation.
  3. Create Centers of Excellence with strong domain expertise.
  4. Fund ARPA-E at $1 billion per year.
  5. Establish and fund a New Energy Challenge Program to build large-scale pilot projects.
The Council compares today's federal energy research budget of under $5 billion with the $30 billion the U.S. spends on health research and the $80 billion we give to the military for R&D. Gates told the New York Times that we need to throw just tons of money at the energy problem, accept that a lot of the ideas will fail, and work to create the disruptive technologies that will actually make a dent on cleaning up American energy. Sounds like an idea we can all get behind, no? Thanks to Dan F. for the tip!

[Source: American Energy Innovation Council via New York Times]

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