A New Paradigm in Energy Innovation: Energy Discovery-Innovation Institutes

By Jesse Jenkins & Teryn Norris

In an in-depth proposal for new energy innovation, the Brookings Institution calls for an “order of magnitude increase” in federal energy R&D and the establishment of a new network of regionally-based “Energy Discovery Innovation Institutes.”

The Brookings Institution officially unveiled a new proposal yesterday calling for “a new paradigm in energy innovation” at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The proposal, which was developed for over a year and is one of the most in-depth proposals for new energy R&D out there, calls for an “order of magnitude” increase in federal energy R&D investment and proposes a new model for clean energy technology research and commercialization: establishing a national network of regionally-based “Energy Discovery-Innovation Institutes” (e-DIIs) to serve as hubs of distributed research linking the nation’s best scientists, engineers, and facilities and effectively combining the forces of academia, government and industry.

The report, prepared by Brooking’s Metropolitan Policy Program (Metro) concludes:

This report urges two major changes in U.S. energy policy. First, it calls for an order-of-magnitude increase in federal investment levels for energy R&D, as a necessary step to matching the enormous scale of the nation’s energy problem with massive efforts to develop market-ready technological solutions. Second, it argues that the complexity of the nation’s energy challenges require that the nation make use of decentralized, multidisciplinary, collaboration-oriented new research paradigms better able to integrate scientific research, technology development and commercialization, and the production of human resources across a broad range of scientific, technological, economic, behavioral, and public policy considerations.

More specifically, the report proposes augmenting expanded energy R&D programs across the nation’s range of national laboratories and industrial research centers with a new research paradigm proposed by the National Academy of Engineering: a national network of energy discovery-innovation institutes (e-DIIs). Decentralized, multidisciplinary, and applications oriented, the proposed e-DII network would link together a new regionally grounded, “bottom up” drive to accelerate the commercialization of breakthrough technological advances in many domains. When completed, the new network would consist of 20 to 30 e-DIIs, with interagency federal funding building to a total level of $5 to $6 billion a year.

In this video, Mark Muro, a fellow and policy director at Metro and co-author of the new report speaks about energy Discovery-Innovation Institutes and their potential to transform both our nation’s energy sources and the economies of metropolitan areas.

Read more here.

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