Scientific Innovation and the Energy System
Extracting useful heat and work from energy sources is essential to human
civilization, and the energy infrastructure that has developed to meet the world’s needs is immense, complex and weighted with legacy technology. Today issues of energy equity, environment, climate change and climate adaptation are transforming the context in which the energy system is evolving. Scientific innovation and its use in new energy technologies is key to meeting energy needs in a world of increasing demand and increasing constraints.
Fortunately, the U.S. infrastructure of research and development has created a
wealth of tools and approaches that allow new progress. The development of computational methods, data analytics, nanoscience, photonics and systems optimization are just a few of the new opportunities supporting innovations in energy technologies.
Examples of high-potential energy innovation will be drawn from the portfolio of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy. Serious choices about research priorities must balance the scale of the potential impact, what new scientific approaches are available to change existing approaches, and the barriers that might prevent a new technology from reaching application.