April 27 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy Year: General Rating: 3 Hot
The Obama Administration is following through on a major campaign promise: funding basic energy science.
Do you want Hope?
(Or maybe long term optimism!)
Stop looking for 'short term' solutions and quick fixes to global energy challenges. We need disruptive breakthroughs that enable new energy systems and business models.
Start with basic science.
A Good Day for Energy Science
Today, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science announced that it will invest $777 million in Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) over the next five years as we attempt to 'accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to build a new 21st-century energy economy'. The 46 new multi-million-dollar EFRCs [PDF list] will be established at universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations, and private firms across the United States with partnerships extending around the globe.
The EFRCs will focus on a wide range of projects (PDF) 'ranging from solar energy and electricity storage to materials sciences, biofuels, advanced nuclear systems, and carbon capture and sequestration' and will engage 'nearly 700 senior investigators and employ, on a full- or part-time basis, over 1,100 postdoctoral associates, graduate students, undergraduate students, and technical staff.'
Getting Serious about CleanTech Industries
Building a Bridge to Molecules: A Nano-Bio Energy Age
The 'Cleantech' Industry vision promoted by entrepreneurs, activists and political leaders is not likely to be based on technologies and energy systems that exist today. (Translation: We are at the beginning of this new era of energy. And it is not likely to be an extension of the past or present!)
How do you create cleantech industries?
Be the economy that launches the Industrial Age of Nanoscale Molecular Engineering.
Learn how to manipulate carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, light, enzymes and metals at the nanoscale (1 billionth of a meter)- and you have the new 21st century drivers of economic growth.
Nanoscale materials science and Bio energy sciences are growing into giant new industry sectors that will dwarf today's major industry sectors. Science is the foundation for real green collar jobs of the future.
Smart Money - Right Time, Right Ideas, Right Teams
Funding Basic Science not Mystery Science- Nano is no Joke!
This is smart money being invested in the exact right place, at the exact right time. And it is a bargain! The $777 million is only a fraction of the total private sector investments that will follow and transfer into commercial market revenues.
None of these research teams is working in isolation. Each is being watched by someone in the private sector. Corporations and Entrepreneurs are ready to double and triple these investments as the science matures into engineering and commercial technology.
The government is funding 'basic science', not 'mystery science' and each program has tremendous merits from the standpoint of resource-based wealth generation. This is not 'neutrino' style research, it is fundamental nanoscale chemistry and bio-based energy science.
Cleantech wealth is not going be made on 'green gadgets', 'eco' marketing campaigns, and incremental tweaks to existing energy business models. It will emerge from scientific knowledge and engineering capabilities that do not exist today.
(Remember last century when we learned to manipulate electrons through silicon transistor chips to launch the micro-scale computer age! We are on a similar path with nanoscale chemical and biological systems!)
We need fundamental breakthroughs across the entire knowledge base of energy systems. From cleaning up fossil fuels through carbon science, gas separation and non-combustion energy conversion; Advancing energy storage via batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and capacitors; Lowering costs for next generation solar cells and solid state lighting; and commercializing microbe bio-energy conversion ('algae' energy).