U.S. Vice President Joe Biden made a far-reaching promise on May 24.He said that the U.S. is slated to again lead the clean-energyrevolution.
Biden even revealed how that will be achieved: by easier, faster and (above all) cheaper technology transfer, which takes projects directlyfrom one of ten U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories to theprivate sector for commercialization.
These labs, overseen and largely funded by the DOE’s Office ofScience, have produced some remarkable products, and productadvancements for the clean energy revolution.
Technology transfer from government to the private sector has been big business ever since passage of the Bayh-Dole and Stevenson-Wydler legislation in 1980, resulting in more than $23 million in revenues to the DOE in 2002.
This figure translates to almost 1,500 new discoveries and 551property/technology patents, among them the Near-Frictionless CarbonCoating developed by Argonne that could lead to better-performingcombustion engines, and a vacuum insulation process that reduces enginecold-start emissions.
In 2010, this technology transfer resulted in a Supercritical/Solid Catalyst (SCC) process that converts waste intobiodiesel, as well as silicon nanowires that expedite waste heatrecovery – the next big thing in President Obama’s clean energy economy.
So, how to facilitate tech transfers? The first step is to make themcheaper, Biden says. That means transfer licenses will now cost $1,000,and this bargain basement price suggests that – while the DOE willlikely never again rake in $23 million – tomorrow’s heating andair-conditioning power sources could be up to 75 percent renewableenergy.
It also means that in the near future your leaky old windows could be covered with an energy-efficient electrochromic thin-film coating that keeps heat and cold inside where they belong, and alsodrives down heating and air-conditioning building costs by close to 30 percent.
Biden’s promise softens the sting of a recent report stating that the U.S. has already fallen behind in the use of technology to cut carbon dioxide emissions, or CO2, thegreenhouse gas most strongly implicated in global warming.
Pointing out that this nation still has some of the bestuniversity-based technology-teaching and research centers in the world,as well as some of its best engineers, Biden noted that the DOE iscurrently harboring 15,000 possibly world-changing technologies spread across its total complement of 17 national laboratories.
Of course, not all 17 work in energy efficiency. That is largely the role of the top ten – a number that includes not only DOE-sponsored laboratories, but a list of accomplishments in the clean, renewable energy venues of solar, wind and hydropower.
One example is the SunShot Incubator Program, which aims to reduce utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, and thus installation costs, to $1 per watt, a grid-parity level that has long been the Holy Grail for solar PV.
Or take the “plug and play” Southwest Windpower Skystream windturbine, which started life at 1.8 kilowatts and is now offered in anequally easy-to-play 2.4-kW model that delivers up to 400 kilowatt hours a month, or about half the average American home’s energy needs.
It even comes complete with its own monitoring software, sort of like a personal “smart meter” that allows you to track performance from your desktop – and may even encourage you to change your energy-usebehaviors to maximize periods when windpower is the most abundant.
The Editorial Team at SolarFeeds is made up of knowledgeable solar industry insiders and experts who have a passion to share valuable, helpful and educational information. Aiming at becoming the best place to learn solar, the publication partners with industry thought leaders, journalists and influencers. Email us tips and insights at operations [at] SolarFeeds. com