By Jeanne Roberts, May 27, 2011
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-energy revolution.
Biden even revealed how that will be achieved: by easier, faster and (above all) cheaper technology transfer, which takes projects directly from one of ten U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories to the private sector for commercialization.
These labs, overseen and largely funded by the DOE’s Office of Science, have produced some remarkable products, and product advancements 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 551 property/technology patents, among them the Near-Frictionless Carbon Coating developed by Argonne that could lead to better-performing combustion engines, and a vacuum insulation process that reduces engine cold-start emissions.
In 2010, this technology transfer resulted in a Supercritical/Solid Catalyst (SCC) process that converts waste into biodiesel, as well as silicon nanowires that expedite waste heat recovery – the next big thing in President Obama’s clean energy economy.
So, how to facilitate tech transfers? The first step is to make them cheaper, Biden says. That means transfer licenses will now cost $1,000, and this bargain basement price suggests that – while the DOE will likely never again rake in $23 million – tomorrow’s heating and air-conditioning power sources could be up to 75 percent renewable energy.
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 also drives 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, the greenhouse gas most strongly implicated in global warming.
Pointing out that this nation still has some of the best university-based technology-teaching and research centers in the world, as well as some of its best engineers, Biden noted that the DOE is currently 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 wind turbine, which started life at 1.8 kilowatts and is now offered in an equally 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-use behaviors to maximize periods when windpower is the most abundant.
This is a cross-post from EnergyBoom.com.
EnergyBoom is a global leader in energy news information, offering expert analysis on the world economy’s transition to cleaner, more efficient and more secure sources of energy.
Original Post: http://www.energyboom.com/emerging/biden-says-us-will-lead-energy-revolution