Clean Energy Researchers Recommend More Research Money

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Clean energy researchers have recommended more money, a more reliable supply of money, and less oversight over their work to help save the planet.

Clean energy: Experts outline how governments can successfully invest before it’s too late

Date: December 6, 2017

Source: University of Cambridge

Summary:

Researchers distil twenty years of lessons from clean energy funding into six ‘guiding principles’. They argue that governments must eschew constant reinventions and grant scientists greater influence before our ‘window of opportunity’ to avert climate change closes.

Governments need to give technical experts more autonomy and hold their nerve to provide more long-term stability when investing in clean energy, argue researchers in climate change and innovation policy in a new paper published today.

Writing in the journal Nature, the authors from UK and US institutions have set out guidelines for investment based on an analysis of the last twenty years of “what works” in clean energy research and innovation programs.

Their six simple “guiding principles” also include the need to channel innovation into the private sector through formal tech transfer programs, and to think in terms of lasting knowledge creation rather than ‘quick win’ potential when funding new projects.

The authors offer a stark warning to governments and policymakers: learn from and build on experience before time runs out, rather than constantly reinventing aims and processes for the sake of political vanity.

As the window of opportunity to avert dangerous climate change narrows, we urgently need to take stock of policy initiatives around the world that aim to accelerate new energy technologies and stem greenhouse gas emissions,” said Laura Diaz Anadon, Professor of Climate Change Policy at the University of Cambridge.

“If we don’t build on the lessons from previous policy successes and failures to understand what works and why, we risk wasting time and money in a way that we simply can’t afford,” said Anadon, who authored the new paper with colleagues from the Harvard Kennedy School as well as the University of Minnesota’s Prof Gabriel Chan.

The six evidence-based guiding principles for clean energy investment are:

  • Give researchers and technical experts more autonomy and influence over funding decisions.
  • Build technology transfer into research organisations.
  • Focus demonstration projects on learning.
  • Incentivise international collaboration.
  • Adopt an adaptive learning strategy.
  • Keep funding stable and predicable.

Read more: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171206132223.htm

The referenced nature paper article says more or less the same thing except they used a lot more words.

The science is settled. If we want to save the world from climate change, we need to give clean energy researchers lots of money and not press too hard for results or ask too many questions about how they intend to spend it – especially the international collaboration component of their proposal, which I suspect will require regular expenses paid mass attendance by researchers at important scientific conferences around the world in places like Paris, Rio, Bonn and Cancun.

Advertisements

76 thoughts on “Clean Energy Researchers Recommend More Research Money

  1. “Clean energy: Experts outline how governments can successfully invest before it’s too late”…..and they find that they have entirely run out of other peoples’ money!

    • I thought it was already “too late”. Would somebody please stop moving the goalposts? My head is starting to spin. Wait! Maybe it could be hooked up to a generator …

      • I like that last bullet item
        · Keep funding stable and predictable
        This can be easily accomplished by setting the Government funding level to ZERO$$.
        The science is Settled after all.
        Further R&D funding $$ for potential tech should be strictly Private Sector.

    • Its ok to fund them just as long as they do NOTHING. Something costs way to much. So full wages funding for staring out a window. Do NOT give them anything to write with or communicate with others.

      Just by paying them to do nothing will save our planet from climate change researchers and its cheap.

    • Yes, “Experts outline how governments can successfully invest before it’s too late”, that’s the best definition of a con scheme I’ve ever seen.

  2. Precisely the opposite of what should be done. More oversight, definite goals, and a means of evaluating if those goals have actually been met, by parties without a major conflict of interest. The renewable advocates want to be judged by their intent, not their achievements.

    • That approach doesn’t work. Search for novelty is much more likely to succeed. Breakthroughs are needed otherwise the problems would already be solved. In such a case, objectives are almost always self-defeating.

      • Eric Worrall – December 14, 2017 at 5:38 pm

        Giving scientists a blank cheque and autonomy on how they spend it is a perverse incentive to blow the cash.

        Correct you are, ……. and the US Department of Energy, NASA and the National Science Foundation are just three (3) prime examples of the “perverse spending” habits of taxpayer monies.

      • Ah, CommieBob, would this approach work for funding defense research? As an ex-aerospace engineer, we always were provided development goals as part of the contract. We had to prove that 1) an idea had prospects, or 2) was a dead end. We had schedules and resource limits to arrive at our conclusion.
        I like your approach better. Unrestrained. If you find something… GREAT! If not… oh, well. Just keep spending.

  3. Breakthroughs don’t happen on demand and can’t be planned for. link

    Promising that more money spent on research will lead to … almost anything, is close to fraudulent. The money would be better spent on blue sky research. Having objectives almost guarantees that the objectives won’t be achieved if what you’re after is a breakthrough.

  4. Getting that last little bit of REAL pollution out of coal fired power stations.

    Its already pretty much the CLEANEST, most environmentally BENEFICIAL source of electricity possible,

    …. but always room for improvement..

      • Griff, it has been years since I saw a NatGeo outside a waiting room, and it has gone silly-a$$ green, just like your fave, the Grauniad. How, pray tell, does CO2 kill thousands?

      • The link between coal pollution and deaths is 100% mathematical—death by coal is not listed on death certificates. Given free reign, I can kill as many people with any unmeasurable cause as you want me to. That’s the beauty of statistics—nearly anything can be fatal in virtually any amount. Living in the Matrix is so cool. Imaginary things everywhere.

        (The proper response to coal is to clean it up. The fact that some countries opt to darken their skies with pollution is just the way it is. Not using a fuel does not help. A dirty, messy country has dirty, messy “renewable” manufacturing. Of course, it’s out of site so who cares, right, Griffy.)

      • Not modern coal….. You are mis-informed, yet again, griff.

        Very little pollution from modern coal, certainly less than making magnets etc for wind, and all the toxins used in solar cells

        All you have is a vague, highly biased, assumption-driven, pseudo-statistical link?

        I’d like to say, “you can do better than that”….. but…….

      • Pretty funny, Griff. As you read the article, they spend a lot of time on coal as burned in China and India, in homes, with old tech. I won’t dispute that is dangerous. That has nothing to do with Clean Coal.
        Then they segue into talking about CO2 emissions, as though that is toxic. It is not. If it were, we could sue EMTs for making us breathe into bags when we hyperventilate.
        They have their agenda – and a near total lack of knowledge of chemistry and life sciences. The magazine is good for looking at pictures. The prose… not so good, at least from a scientific point of view. It just repeats political garbage.

  5. “Governments need to give technical experts more autonomy and hold their nerve to provide more long-term stability when investing in clean energy, argue researchers in climate change and innovation policy…”

    Anyone who has raised teenagers understands the mentality at work here.

    1. give me my allowance.
    2. don’t even threaten to reduce it or take it away
    3. don’t ask me how I spend it.

    Yeah, that didn’t work then. Won’t work now.

    • I have a good idea. Long ago nature created a big solar battery for us to use. They put lots of co2 into it. The perfect annswer for our energy hungry world. Its called coal. Michael

      • 350 Million years ago the Earth came up with this radical new concept: Earth + coal.

        Coal was of course the carbon junk created by the dominant life (trees and plants) from all that photosynthesis that also polluted the air and water with oxygen.

        Today, we’re just undoing a fraction of that.

        As George Carlin said: Now the new paradigm Earth has adopted with the dominant life form:
        Earth + plastic.
        https://youtu.be/tncnWp67wQI

    • Teenagers are a lot easier to manage these days with a currency they understand; Wi-Fi. Turn off wi-fi you can get them to do almost anything, for free usually too.

      • Those days weren’t so long ago. I remember setting schedules in the WiFi-router configuration firmware menus that only I or my wife could access.

  6. I certainly knew a lot of researchers in other fields that would love the same “guiding principles.” I use to regularly do scientific and financial audits of individual PIs and their organizations that we funded. I was hated for it, called names in the newspaper, worse in public and regularly got calls from elected officials they had lobbied asking why. Funny thing no elected official ever agreed with the researchers after we explained what we were doing, why and gave examples of the “little” discrepancies we found. In one example a principle investigator had decided to take a year long sabbatical outside the country without advising us. He still planned to pull is full salary out of the project. We gave them three choices, kill the sabbatical, return the money, or fire the principle investigator. A major problem we ran into were principle investigators applying for several grants and charging each of them separately their full salary and benefits. During one audit we discovered one principle investigator with four fully funded projects and getting full salary from each. His institution threatened to take us to court when we objected and we threaten to cut off funding. When the other granting agencies found out and threatened also to cut funding the institution quietly returned 75% of his salary to each project. In our system such “little” problems meant automatically ranking such principle investigators lower during the next grants cycle.

    • Any PI at a US university who did that today would immediately be put on notice by the Vice Chancellor for Research before the an outside audit caught it. I can see that happening in past when grants didn’t get the firm oversight at universities.

      President Eisenhower saw this coming in his warning about the scientific elite thinking they had carte blanche when they got a government research grant.
      https://www.aaas.org/news/after-50-years-eisenhower-s-warnings-against-scientific-elite-still-cause-consternation

      • I wasn’t talking about ancient history. Our policies ultimately did force many of our universities and private research institutions to crack down. Yet we were still battling with several departments within universities who were actually battling with their own university leadership.Their argument, “we did it in the past why can’t we continue to do so.” We were still having to check and cross check grant proposals. We started actually requiring a list of other proposal submitted and grants received when we put out our RFPs. We still had PIs trying to double dip when I moved on to run another organization.

    • I ran into a similar situation when I was managing environmental research projects for the department of defense. In one case, one of my researchers spent $250K of my DoD customer’s money doing his own thing. I seized his entire discretionally research funding (in a separate $250K account) and forced him to complete the contract work on his own time. That pretty much put a stop to problem.

    • Reminds me of a guy that worked for my company (McDonnell Douglas). He would come in every morning, turn on his desk lamp, set his glasses on the desk, and go for a cup of coffee. Return shortly after closing time, grab his glasses, and turn off the desk lamp.
      Turned out, he was driving down the road to Hughes. Our security contacted their security.
      We both fired him. But I doubt it hurt him too bad. If he found another job, he was still well ahead financially.

  7. To anyone who’s interested, I discovered the other day that the Wikipedia article on WUWT is the most bias-crammed piece of disgusting crap I’ve ever encountered in years of using it. When I went into the editor, there was a mishmash of (thankfully hidden from the casual user) sophomoric scurrilous comments and links to books by pop-science bottom-feeders. Just pathetic.

    It’ll be gone by morning, so for posterity here’s my new introductory paragraph screenshotted:

    https://mega.nz/#!T5sTgRKK!-kfEqk3ifM-ODpccJtCU9VhSCy4tCdCmvPH496Ixymg

      • Thanks – and as predicted it’s gone and returned to its previous form. N.B. READERS MAY WISH TO RECONSIDER ANY FUTURE DONATIONS TO WIKIPEDIA (as I have), since the original entry is obviously approved by the moderators. Here is one sample citation from the bottom of the page:

        John Grant (2011). Denying Science: Conspiracy Theories, Media Distortions, and the War Against Reality. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1616144009. Retrieved May 2015. “* The blog Watts Up With That? is a notorious hotbed of irrational AGW denialism * the massively trafficked denialist site Watts Up With That * Watts is best known for his very heavily trafficked blog Watts Up With That?, began in 2006, which provides not just a megaphone for himself but a rallying ground for other AGW deniers.”

    • Wikipedia Editor ‘CityofSilver’ has indeed reverted the page. Did it 8 minutes after your final edit. They really are paranoid.

      • “City of Silver“ – is that anything like the city of unicorn farts people like him imagine the future will be like? Pfffttt…

  8. The ONLY “window of opportunity” that is closing is government grant funding for wasteful wind and solar research.

    Countries that have wasted $billions on large wind & solar infrastructure projects (especially Germany, Spain and Denmark) have seen their electricity rates “skyrocket”, with devastating economic consequences.

    CAGW advocates have propagandized the 2015/16 Super El Nino warming spike to the hilt, but that “window of opportunity” has already slammed shut from the cooling effects of a double-dip La Nina event.

    UAH’s global warming trend from mid-1996 to mid-2019 will again likely approach 0.0C/decade, and the disparity between CAGW’s global warming projections vs. reality will exceed 3 standard deviations for 23 years.. When that happens, CAGW advocates will have some serious explaining to do…

    After mid-2019, sunspot activity will be near zero, the weakest solar cycle since 1790 starts from 2021, the 30-year PDO cool cycle will be approaching its coolest point, the 30-year AMO cool cycle will start from the early 2020’s, Arctic sea ice minimums will show definitive recovery from 2012 lows, Greenland’s annual ice mass loss will decrease significantly, sea level rise trends will continue to be stuck at 7″/century, Antarctic land mass will continue increasing by over 80+ billion tons/yr, etc.

    No wonder CAGW advocates and rent seekers are becoming so desperate.

  9. The end of the world is nigh, advocate the flat-Earth society.

    That said, clean drivers, gray converters, environmental arbitrage.

    • Move to either Alaska wilderness or the Aussie outback.
      Build that cabin far away from human civilization.
      Disconnect from the crazy.
      Keep just enough petrol in the land rover to get to town in an emergency.
      Enjoy life.
      Wonder at the stars every-night under a dark sky.

      • @JoelObryan:

        Stay where you are
        Stand your ground.
        Require the Crazies be held accountable.
        Use all the petrol you might wish and can afford.
        Own your Liberty.
        Imagine that Government works for the Citizens.

        Fixed it for you. 🙂 eh?

      • I met some people who did just that – they settled near a river with good fishing in the Aussie outback on a mining lease, grew up there. Very quiet but they didn’t answer to anyone – they panned enough gold for their few external needs, and lived off the land.

        If I was younger and fitter it would be mighty tempting to do the same.

  10. Those 6 guiding principles seem very generic and would apply to almost any high-tech area of research. There is nothing in them specific to clean energy. They would apply equally well to research into genetically modified organisms for example.

  11. Remember when we paid farmers to not grow grain? Maybe we could pay the climate researcher to not research climate? All we’d need to cover is their salaries, they wouldn’t need expensive equipment, computers, travel, satellites and such, so we’d actually be saving money.

  12. If the goal is genuine useful innovation there must be clear goals, strict oversight and accountability. Three examples: Apple iPad (Steve Jobs), Polaroid SX-70 camera (Edwin Land), NASA Moon mission (James Webb). There are many more of course, Bell, Edison, Watt, Marconi, Fulton, Tesla. Most all great innovations are the result of some individual’s vision and determination, often driven by a capitalistic profit motive. I’ll give Elon Musk credit for his technological achievements even though he seems adept at obtaining tax-payer $$ to fund them.

    It seems quite clear that giving a whole bunch of money to academics to do climate and renewable energy research has primarily produced thousands of fairly worthless ‘peer-reviewed papers that add fluff to CV’s, but very little in the way of useful innovation.

    (I was peripherally involved in the SX-70 project, an amazing story.)
    http://www.technologizer.com/2011/06/08/polaroid/

    • That would be wise, but the world prefers – Create the perception of a problem (real or not), blame the problem on someone or something, offer a solution to fix the problem (more money for research in this case).

      • Look up Kotter’s 8 step process for change. First stage is to create a sense of urgency / impending doom.

  13. Greenpeace: “Fusion is always twenty years away… so there is no point in funding it”

    Cambridge: “We’ve been working on renewables for twenty years and still not got them to work right. That’s absolutely NOT because they are a dead-end tech, but because we aren’t being given enough of the public’s money. Spend! Spend! Spend! ”

    Renewables funding: Globally, $500 billion a year.

    Fusion: ITER maybe $15 billion and won’t be completed until 2027.

    • ITER exist because participants do not believe it will work enough to do it on their own, but do not rule out it could work. Sort of lottery ticket. Bonus: no one takes the lead

  14. The value of research money is mainly dependent on how you regard the purpose to which it is used for. I would like to see the research into disease and ill health increased, and that into new military equipment decreased, but that is my subjective opinion. One other point, surely it is difficult to criticise renewable energy generation for various faults, if you also do not wish to see any investment in research to improve the process?

  15. Green Energy, like Socialism, fails when it runs out of other peoples’ money.
    And when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun don’t shine…

  16. If they hadn’t mentioned the bogeyman “climate change,” I could have been quite supportive. Clean and inexpensive energy is a worthwhile goal. But they are tilting at windmills since there is no clear substantiation of claims that we are facing a dangerously warmer future or that CO2 levels are anything but good.
    Their priorities should be inexpensive energy with “clean” being a secondary concern.
    Since CO2 is not dirty, it should not be part of the clean concern except as a secondary consideration.

  17. I was in graduate school when Sputnik (1957) went up and NSF (and others) started throwing money around. While the money wasn’t much by today’s standards, it was a more idealistic time and we didn’t have the top down management (too much now within the discipline) to the degree that exists today. Also the incentives that led to the oversupply of researchers and administrators, along with the denigration of teachers in certain fields had not developed. It became easy to identify patronage projects and money. In hindsight it is easy to see how the abuses discussed here developed.

    I was just told about the large salary of someone I knew, barely teaches, add that to all the other costs. Government does have a legitimate interest in funding certain research, solving real problems, not solutions looking for problems.

  18. Eisenhower: “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present
    and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite.”

  19. Eric ==> I can’t agree with your dismissal of the six guidelines for clean energy research.

    We need an energy breakthrough — we need it twenty years ago.

    The problems with “clean energy research” cluster around the problem of separating out energy research and the enforced-consensus on global warming. The research area needs serious direction from the Federal Dept of Energy using rigid rules of scientific review. (CSS is NOT an energy production project — it is a Global Warming Consensus Project)

    Had funding been maintained for nuclear energy steadily over the last decades, we might not have seen the crazy anti-petroleum movement — most of our energy would be coming from small nuclear plants conveniently located around the country. Now we have to wait while the Chinese perfect the technology and export it to us.

    Had funding been thrown at energy storage — and funding supplied for infrastructure — much of our energy storage would be in dual-function pumped water energy storage/fresh water reservoirs. Maybe we’d have a decent battery by now.

    The authors of the piece are right — money flow tends to blow this way and that based on public opinion and political expediency — instead of solid scientific goals. And THAT is the problem — CAGW mania is just one of the counter-science forces pushing energy research in silly directions (though there is some overlap with real need).

    • “We need an energy breakthrough — we need it twenty years ago.”

      Fission was demonstrated 75 years ago.

      “most of our energy would be coming from small nuclear plants conveniently located around the country.”

      We have been doing that since before 1960.

      All Light Water Reactors are small. This is important for submarines. This is important when putting a LWR inside a containment building.

      Kip is confusing physical size with power output. A 1600 MWe LWR is smaller in size than one than a 5 MWe wind turbine.

      “Now we have to wait while the Chinese perfect the technology and export it to us.”

      Talk about a solution looking for a problem. There is a market for small power plants in remote areas or islands. Small power plants use a small amounts of fuel.

      Duh!

      • Retired ==> I speak of societal realities, you speak of something else…not sure what.

        The landscape is not dotted with nuclear power plants pumping out the power needed by our cities and industries … not in the US and not anywhere. Nuclear still accounts for less than 20% of both US and Global electricity production.

        Nuclear could and maybe should …. but there are societal roadblocks that have yet to be overcome.

        China is pushing ahead with Generation 3 nuclear power plants located near major cities.

        The reality of nuclear power in the world is not the envisioned “near unlimited power” of 75 years ago.

        We still need a breakthrough and haven’t seen it yet. Maybe some of the new fusion ideas will come to fruition.

        I am unsure what your objection is the the term “small nuclear plants” — submarines and aircraft carriers use small nuclear power plants…satellites use small nuclear power plants…in any case, we still need a major energy breakthrough be it fusion, 80% efficient solar plus storage, something other than just burning stuff.

  20. Seven things have happened causing UK gas prices to climb sharply and for winter supply to sufficiency to be seriously in doubt:

    1. Explosion 💥 at the Baumgarten gas facility in Austria where Russian gas enters western Europe.

    2. Forties pipeline, largest source of North Sea gas, damaged reducing gas flow for weeks or months

    3. Morcambe field gas output halved due to technical problems

    4. Gas pipeline between Holland and Britain reduced in flow due to problems with a compressor

    5. The Rough subsea gas storage facility off Yorkshire was shut down in the summer due to bureaucratic apathy and ignorance.

    6. Norway’s Troll platform reduced gas output significantly due to a power outage

    7. Closure of coal power plants in the UK due to green-religious intolerance of sources of energy that are black.

    An 8th could be the more than usual uselessness if solar and wind in the winter especially when it is cold.

    All these are combining to threaten winter heating for millions of British residents, whose well-being is sacrificed on an alter of CAGW virtue-signalling.

    So the UK has become “No country for old men”. One might well pose the question asked by hitman Anton Chigur:

    “If the rule you followed brought you to this, what use was the rule?”

    https://youtu.be/DxZwwP1LgpM

  21. “The landscape is not dotted with nuclear power plants ….”

    Why would you dot the landscape when you can get the job done with a few reactors?

    “China is pushing ahead with Generation 3 nuclear power plants located near major cities.”

    It sounds like Kip does not know what a Gen III reactor is. They are just bigger versions of existing technology. Westinghouse sold reactors around the world including China. France sold their version to China at a time US companies could not sell nuclear technology to China. China made copies.

    That is not leadership.

    Just for the record, I worked at the French Gen III+ EPR in China and the US version.

    “We still need a breakthrough and haven’t seen it yet.”

    No! What we have works great. I do object to people with no experience thinking we should invest R&D tax dollars because they like the word ‘small’ instead of ‘big’.

Comments are closed.