Innovation is the engine of American prosperity. Economists now recognize that up to 80 percent of modern economic growth arises from technological innovation – the process of developing new knowledge and harnessing those discoveries to create better commercial products, more competitive industries, and well-paying jobs.
Today, energy innovation is a national imperative. The United States must rapidly develop cleaner, cheaper, and more scalable forms of power to compete in the global clean energy race which is predicted to grow to $7 trillion in private investments by 2030. The nations that develop, deploy, and export these technologies stand to make large economic gains.
However, the private sector cannot meet these challenges alone. As we have in the past with paradigm-shifting discoveries such as the Internet, space exploration and biotechnology, public sector investment is necessary and instrumental to meet new challenges. The U.S. federal government must play an essential role in creating emerging energy technologies to help reduce the nation’s vulnerability to volatile oil markets and expand high-tech manufacturing.
Global energy demand is expected to grow by nearly 50 percent over the next 25 years, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration. Countries like China and Germany are moving quickly to capture this market opportunity. Fortunately, the United States still possesses unrivaled innovation capacity, from world-renowned research universities to deep venture capital markets. With a focused effort and increased federal investment, the nation can unleash its scientific and technological leadership to drive down the cost of clean energy, manufacture and deploy these products domestically, and export them abroad—all while enhancing our security, health, and environment.