How a government-linked foundation could speed the spread of new clean-energy technologies

Sometimes promising innovations, such as this glass that can harness solar energy, developed by scientist Lance Wheeler, take a long time to reach consumers. Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

David M. Hart, George Mason University

To address climate change over the coming decades, all nations will need to transition to energy resources that emit less carbon. This transformation, already underway, will require many new technologies.

The United States is a world leader in scientific research and technological development. But new inventions have to be brought to market and then widely adopted to have a deep impact. And in the clean energy field, the United States doesn’t do as well at making that happen as one might be expect, given its strength in basic research.

The energy transition might stall if the U.S. doesn’t overcome this problem, endangering human health and the environment. Research I carried out with Jetta L. Wong, the founding director of the Office of Technology Transitions at the U.S. Department of Energy, suggests that creating a new foundation that would be authorized by Congress to work closely with the Energy Department could help.

‘Valley of death’

Government policies to help clean energy companies commercialize their technologies are necessary because markets tend to be biased against them. This is true for many types of innovation, but it is particularly so for low-carbon innovation.

The general problem is so well known it has a catchy name: “the valley of death.” It takes money to turn a prototype into a product and persuade customers to buy it. It’s also risky. And it takes time. These hurdles deter investors, particularly when a project requires a lot of money, takes a long time and has uncertain returns.

The valley of death – often depicted as a desert – is a metaphor for what innovators experience. They have to stay on a tight budget for as long as it takes for their businesses to become self-sustaining.

The valley of death is less challenging for software innovations like smartphone apps. A few people can write the code. If the app is a hit, it can be distributed almost instantly to billions of users. Profits can come in quickly and really pile up.

But for hardware innovations that can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change – innovations like new ways to make steel or cement or generate electricity – the valley is much wider and deeper. These methods and machines are very complex and expensive to develop and install. They would replace existing systems that are more familiar, and usually less costly, and may last a long time. Most potential customers prefer to see multiyear track records of reliability and affordability before they commit to adopting such innovations.

As a result, many energy innovators never get enough funding to cross the valley of death. Promising tech never gets a chance to prove what it can do. Some technological pathways are never pursued because of a fear of failure.

The Energy Department has sought to bridge the valley of death for clean energy innovations, with some success. But its efforts are inevitably limited by the complex legal requirements that bind all federal agencies and a risk-averse culture that makes it difficult to move quickly and aggressively.

A graph with two humps separated by a wide gap
The ‘Valley of Death’ is a metaphor for how long it can take to scale up innovations and inventions. Jetta Wong/Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, CC BY-SA

Precedents since 1935

The idea that a government agency like the Department of Energy should create a private foundation to help it solve a problem like the “valley of death” may strike you as odd. But there are precedents.

The oldest federal philanthropic partner of this kind, the National Park Foundation, dates from 1935. Our research turned up eight others with missions ranging from agricultural research to public land stewardship to advancing military medicine.

Since they are free from many government regulations and raise most of their funding from private sources, these foundations can undertake tasks that federal agencies might have trouble carrying out. They can move more quickly, too.

This model is particularly useful for creating and funding complex public-private partnerships to advance science and technology related to an agency’s mission.

A great example is Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines. The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health coordinates this partnership, which involves government agencies, funders and drugmakers. Set up in a matter of weeks in the spring of 2020, it has already led to numerous clinical trials.

A to-do list

The work of a clean energy foundation set up along these lines might focus on challenges that are too complex for either the public or the private sector to tackle alone. Such challenges cause particularly wicked valleys of death for would-be innovators.

For instance, maritime shipping causes about 3% of global carbon emissions. Cleaning up emissions from ships and port operations is not as simple as swapping out dirty engines for clean ones. Zero-carbon ports may need new kinds of fueling facilities for ships and trucks and new systems for handling freight and passengers. Their physical layouts may need to be redesigned.

Getting these tasks done will require many different kinds of companies to collaborate with public agencies from all levels of government, including the Navy.

Innovators trying to reduce carbon emissions from agriculture, mining, construction and manufacturing will have to surmount similar challenges.

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A clean energy foundation might convene stakeholders, mobilize private and philanthropic partners and devise strategies to bring technology solutions to these challenges to market. It could bring to these collaborations access to the world-class expertise and facilities of the department’s 17 national laboratories and network of academic researchers.

A clean energy foundation could also work with states and localities to deepen the public-private partnerships that fuel these efforts. For instance, it could help the National Renewable Energy Laboratory just outside of Denver to collaborate more easily and fruitfully with Colorado clean energy innovators. It could also tap into experts affiliated with the Energy Department to fill gaps in places lacking major federal labs.

A foundation focused on technology commercialization would complement many existing Energy Department programs, rather than substitute for them. For instance, it may be able to work around bureaucratic barriers to seed new initiatives that could then be taken up on a larger scale by the government itself.

Next steps

A clean energy foundation would work best if Congress authorized it, and lawmakers are moving in that direction. After a hearing in July on Capitol Hill, a bipartisan authorization measure was included in an energy package that passed the House of Representatives on Sept. 24.

This measure would direct the Energy Department to establish a nonprofit, independent foundation to work with it on innovation initiatives. The foundation would have the ability to raise funds from private donors to support technology commercialization. It would direct the department to work closely with the foundation and cut some of the red tape that would otherwise impede a close relationship.

Companion legislation is pending in the Senate.

David M. Hart, Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Wolf at the door
October 15, 2020 2:23 am

A ” clean energy foundation! “What a great idea for pouring more money into solving a non – problem. Just like Prince William and David Attenborough ( and all the pretty girls ) getting together to save the planet with “Earthshot .” Look out for Clean Energy Foundation , then Clean Energy Foundation and Empire ,and finally Second Clean Energy Foundation.( h\ t Isaac Asimov )

October 15, 2020 2:36 am

Go for it. Nothing could possibly go wrong.
Could it?

Geoff Sherrington
October 15, 2020 2:48 am

The head article was printed in “The Conversation”. This rag, claiming to be scientific, froze my account years ago and refuses to open it. It is possible that I am the first scientist it censored permanently. Therefore, I think it appropriate to use The Conversation as a living example of the bureaucratic takeover process I just discussed.
Naturally, the Conversation chief guy will appear here and give a well-deserved reasoned argument displaying how horrid I was to get banned, while being unable to reproduce any of the actual circumstances or quotes. It is typical of the takeover methodology to get government money, then to assume power to consor and to refuse right of reply. Part of their readership regards this as good, modern, progressive methodology. I do not. Geoff S

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 15, 2020 3:33 am

Hi Geoff, TheConversation invited me to join recently, after I got kicked out a while ago. So I’m trying a more oblique method, to see how long it takes this time. Going to be difficult, as half of what I read there is nauseating. Same old sycophants. If they are real. They could be commentbots.

Larry in Texss
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 15, 2020 3:51 pm

Sounds like another Internet entity that needs to be dealt with in my proposed amendment to Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1996. Once I finalize it, I’m sending it to Senator Ted Cruz and my Congressman Van Taylor to see if it can get some legs.

“The Conversation,” indeed. Sounds more like a one-way monologue.

Phillip Bratby
October 15, 2020 2:50 am

Goodness me. They’ll be deciding nuclear is the way to go! Oh wait, we’ve tried that and abandoned it as it was too successful.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
October 15, 2020 6:04 am

Didn’t lead to wealth re-distribution so failed a critical lefty test.

Charles Higley
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
October 15, 2020 8:24 am

Yes, nuclear did just fine. It was the environmentalists and those who hate cheap, reliable energy who want to cancel all nuclear power.

It is the safest of the power industries, particularly the newer generation designs, and liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTR) are even safer and much more scalable to fit specific needs, with no humans needed for 24/7 monitoring. We have loads of thorium fuel that is easy to process.

It has the smallest foot print of all power industries. We could literally plant a nuclear plant next to a coal or gas-fired power plant, connect it to the existing steam electric generators and turn of the other power. Easily done and use all the same grid infrastructure.

It is very green compared to all other power industries while wind and solar are the least green on the planet. From mining to fabrication to building to physical structure to food print to extensive new infrastructure to relatively short lifetime to impossible to recycle, wind and solar are black not green and a blight on the planet

LFTR also allows our current stockpiles of nuclear waster to be further burned for its remaining 50% of energy content. At 1% residue from this nuclear burning, the products would even be used for other things. Even if not useful, reducing the nuclear waster stockpile by 98+% would be a great thing and make it much less of a problem.

Yay, NUCLEAR!!!!

Flight Level
October 15, 2020 3:04 am

I could use a grant to research on gyroscopic negative inverse-barrier precession electromagnetic ion exchange over-unity super green clean generators but I’m afraid that private big tobacco-oil corporations might hire hitmen to take me down and deprive humanity from the benefits of my climate saving invention.

However, a government linked foundation might be just the right institution to fund me further.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Flight Level
October 15, 2020 4:39 am

I thought you were already busy commercializing your windmill-powered airplane? Wow, your energy level is so inspiring!

Reply to  Flight Level
October 15, 2020 7:07 am

Many a truth is said best in a joke. Brilliant description of how the boondoggle works. MY hat has never been so tipped!

Reply to  Flight Level
October 15, 2020 10:28 am

Good luck to you Flight Level. I researched & perfected (to the extent possible) the process and outcome that you describe above.

Big Oil bought it from me and, per the sales agreement, I am not allowed to discuss it. (Their lawyers may even send a warning letter because of this post).

Bob Meyer
Reply to  Flight Level
October 15, 2020 11:27 am

Thank you, I needed a laugh.

October 15, 2020 3:10 am

on matter of ‘ speeding the spread
The old apple cider drinking Isaac while trying to converting a bit of lead to gold, as any other genius would do, mumbled to himself ‘this is a slow business, I need to increase speed of the speed of this chemistry by applying a bit of force here, but … but how much? Let’s have another jar …. and in order not to forget it, he scribbled on peace of paper ‘force I need is mass of lead I have X speed of the speed’. I’m sure you know the rest.

Ron Long
October 15, 2020 3:15 am

The Department of Energy, under The Office of Nuclear Energy, already has advanced, modern, “clean” (means low carbon!), projects ready to go. As Phillip Bratby notes above they have already had a good start, but actually have advanced nuclear energy designs ready to proceed to wide-spread adaptation and construction. In the David M. Hart article he gives a clear clue to his tendencies when he fails to name project “Warp Speed”, because that would be giving credit where it pains him. MAGA!

October 15, 2020 3:34 am

I was hoping to read a write up about a new form of glass, unfortunately Schrodingers cat got in the way and it turned out to be an article on the history of the business.

logging off to go and watch paint dry

Patrick B
October 15, 2020 3:39 am

Communists always believe they can create a better outcome than the market and they are never right.

Robert W. Turner
October 15, 2020 3:40 am

You must be a masochist to finish reading these types of articles.

October 15, 2020 3:45 am

I stopped reading after “To address climate change …”

Reply to  Petit_Barde
October 15, 2020 6:58 am

I made it down to the point where they declared that the market was biased against their types of technology, therefore government needs to step in and subsidize it.

Trying to Play Nice
October 15, 2020 3:54 am

This Hart clown call what he did “research”?

Dodgy Geezer
October 15, 2020 4:01 am

“Sometimes promising innovations, such as this glass that can harness solar energy, developed by scientist Lance Wheeler, take a long time to reach consumers.”

Sometimes scam innovations, such as the theory that is human CO2 will ruin the planet, developed by ‘scientist’ Michael Mann, take a while to make unscrupulous entrepreneurs as rich as Croesus. So we need tyo think of ways to speed the process up…..

There. Fixed that for you….

Mickey Reno
October 15, 2020 4:08 am

End the Department of Energy. Fire every Federal employee that works for it. Privatize all the pension and retirement/health benefits that have vested in those employees, and absorb those costs as a one-time hit, and be done with this hot-bed of cronyism, graft and waste for all time.

That’s what I would do.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Mickey Reno
October 15, 2020 4:29 am


Reply to  Mickey Reno
October 15, 2020 6:59 am

Don’t stop with just the DOE.

Rich Davis
October 15, 2020 4:22 am

These methods and machines are very complex and expensive to develop and install. They would replace existing systems that are more familiar, and usually less costly, and may last a long time.

So the problem is that investors foolishly think that businesses might choose a competitive product that costs less and lasts longer, rather than a Rube Goldberg scheme? Those stupid capitalists gotta go!

I agree with the author that the obvious solution is to set up a new bureaucracy to eliminate the nefarious influence of profit-seeking capitalist running dogs. I’d suggest that we hire 23-year old woke experts fresh out of a victim studies curriculum, utterly devoid of any inhibitions arising from the knowledge of engineering, finance, or common sense. These Wunderkinder will pour tax dollars into crony capitalist companies that would normally go bankrupt from having no viable product to sell.

The cronies will be selected based on their proven loyalty to the “Democratic” Socialist party and their promise to “invest” some of the government largesse on campaign contributions to the gatekeepers. Remember how well this model worked in the good old days of Solyndra?

While this approach shows great promise, I submit that we also need to raise consciousness about the urgency to get less efficient. Maybe if we could finally just convince the media to get the word out that we face an existential threat of unprecedented catastrophe, the public would demand the use of more expensive, less reliable technologies?

But sadly, the media remain scandalously silent. When was the last time you heard anything about climate change in the mainstream media? How can we expect ordinary folks to demand skyrocketing electric bills and much more expensive lower-quality products, if we don’t explain it to them?

The real story here should be the need to root out the reactionary forces in the mainstream media who are suppressing the Truth about Climate Change, isn’t it?

October 15, 2020 4:33 am

This article is backwards in so many ways. First the diagram showing inventions come from the government. That is a lie by omission. Some inventions do come from government funded research, but many more (successful) ones come from private industry. I know, I was an industrial chemist.

The reason so many “green” energy projects need government money is because they lose money or aren’t fit for purpose. I would say wind and solar fit the bill on both counts. If “green” energy could supply electricity 24/7 at 3 cents per kWh, people would run over the government trying to buy it.

This article is balderdash.

Reply to  jim2
October 15, 2020 7:02 am

The vast majority of so called government inventions are things that the private sector was already working on.

Reply to  jim2
October 15, 2020 10:48 am

All the author is saying is that the blue bell on the left side of their graphical representation/ interpretation of “The Process of Tech Innovation” needs to be better tied into the burnt orange bell by a Red bell that is 4 times as high big as the other two curves.

The author could call it the mountain of socialism (he imagines that his resources would come out of this mountain) and his analogy would be complete.

Rich Davis
Reply to  DonM
October 15, 2020 2:28 pm

I was thinking they should build the aqueduct of Socialism, spanning from the government inventions mountain to the crony capitalist trough planted atop the other mountain.

Bruce Cobb
October 15, 2020 4:34 am

Under the guise of “innovation”, they propose an even better way of funding the fraudulent Green Machine. How diabolical of them. Greenie ideation is never an improvement on what we have now because the focus is on “reducing carbon”, and this always costs way more, and they know it. So, they need to hide behind the skirts of Big Government.

Just Jenn
October 15, 2020 4:47 am

They can’t be serious. Are they? A Energy Foundation to bring new materials to market..sounds noble doesn’t it? Yea, too bad it will be just as corrupt and full of cronyism as the Department of Energy in the end. A rose by any other name ya know.

What about that glass? Dang, where can I get that stuff? I wouldn’t mind some energy producing windows in my house, lessen the amount I pay for off the grid. But I guess as a plebe, it’s as big a pipe dream as cold fusion for my future.

Bryan A
October 15, 2020 4:53 am

There’s nothing wrong with innovation.
There’s nothing wrong with supporting innovative development.
There’s something wrong with legislating it’s usage as a mandate.
There’s something wrong with legislating an unfair advantage to new technologies and shaming/taxing the use of proven ones

October 15, 2020 5:31 am

Some of the inherent difficulty in the Govt funding of potential comercial winners can be seen if you explore further the profile of the above -mentioned Lance Wheeler .
From his profile :
We can see that he is a Govt materials scientist of remarkable ability in both the chemistry of photovoltaics and the physics of their applications. One of the areas he is working on (to judge from publications – I have no personal knowledge of him ) is the area of integrating photovoltaics into building stuctures , in particular using the glass windows as both a source of photovoltaic power and of course , as a conventional window.
eg see:
Links from that paper take you to others where a potential application is considered :
Quantum dots in the window glass act as NIR luminescent solar concentrators relaying photons to edge strips of silicon photocells, whilst still allowing 44% visibility . Tinting of the glas is probably not a problem because in most US buildings I have been in (not a lot admittedly) the glass is tinted anyway. However the power captured is limited. To quote :
-“Performance modeling predicts >1 GWh annual electricity production for a typical urban skyscraper in most major U.S. cities, enabling significant energy cost savings and potentially “net-zero” buildings.”-
But that is only about 0.3MW for the building during an 8 hr working day , which will not power many PCs, printers and espresso machines. And what if the windows are double glazed and the heat trapped affects the PV efficiency (not factored in I think).
So even though the basic research is excellent and, to any materials scientist, absolutely fascinating, ultimately there are limits to its application and the high risk that pushing for practical application because of the high political profile of such work would waste taxpayers money. We went through this in UK in the 60s and 70s with both Labour and Tory govts trying to create industry “winners” with public money. Not an unqualified success in retrospect.

Reply to  mikewaite
October 15, 2020 7:05 am

Two more factors:
How much more expensive is this special glass?
How quickly does this quantum effect degrade?

Rich Davis
Reply to  MarkW
October 15, 2020 2:41 pm

Why would you care how much it costs? We’re talking about an unprecedented existential threat to The Planet, and all you can talk about is how much does it cost?

First of all, we tax every alternative that we don’t regulate out of existence. Then we subsidize the new product so that it costs slightly less than any remaining alternative. Then we claim that technology has advanced to the point where the cool new tech is “cheaper than coal” or whatever.

Socialism 101.

Plus it’s cool technology. Who cares if it only lasts for 6 months?

October 15, 2020 5:52 am

This concept will be perfect at breeding large numbers of Solyndra solar scams. As a long-term investor in the lowest cost solar PV producer I was better equipped to watch (with horror) the corrupt Obama Administration in its support of fake and nonplayer companies in solar PV and solar CSP. I had already watched Solyndra get rejected by the private sector and the IPO market only to get grants and loans from taxpayers for a product that was not competitive and going nowhere fast. Solyndra had bulked up with more employees than one would expect for a noncompetitive prototype company acting like it had full production scale. It was saved from layoffs and closure with targeted help from politicos just before it defaulted as planned. In addition to that case, there were many other technologies and startup companies being ‘shopped’ to state governments lacking competence in due diligence. There was also ultra-scammer Nano Solar that touted the building of the world’s largest PV production plant in San Jose as if a building itself was all you needed to succeed. In conclusion, you can certainly ramp up the loss rate to taxpayers with industrial scale lack of due diligence by institutionalizing it.

Steve Case
October 15, 2020 5:52 am

About a third of the way through the bullshit, I decided to do a search on “Nuclear” Lo and behold five hits and all in the comments section. That’s about all you need to know.

October 15, 2020 6:02 am

Georg Mason Universi -Tea. Is that with one Shukla or two?

Tom in Florida
October 15, 2020 6:07 am

The reason this will not work is one word: politicians

Reply to  Tom in Florida
October 15, 2020 7:39 am


Michael in Dublin
October 15, 2020 6:19 am

David Hart should do his homework. He should compare the returns on glamorous research projects like those he favors and ordinary projects that draw little attention and struggle for funding. He would find that the latter give far more value for money and come up with far more beneficial results. The foolish thing is to trust governments to choose winner and losers. They have a terrible track record.

October 15, 2020 6:53 am

The market is biased against technologies that cause companies to lose money.
Therefore we need government to push such technologies.
I just wish I was being sarcastic.

October 15, 2020 6:54 am

Technologies that solve real world needs, and or save money, have no trouble being adopted and marketed.
It’s only technologies that nobody wants and or cost more than they save, that need government to push them.

Reply to  MarkW
October 15, 2020 7:52 am

Indeed. Hence the huge amounts going into offshore wind, grid scale batteries, EVs, renewable hydrogen etc and the massive roll out of those technologies which are already in the ‘diffusion’ stage

Reply to  MarkW
October 15, 2020 7:54 am

Oh, also just read this ‘UK electric van developer Arrival has today announced that it has secured a $118m investment from funds managed by BlackRock, providing a major boost to its ambitious expansion plans.

The company said the latest funding round would support the ramping up of its vehicle production capacity, including the launch of its first US ‘microfactory’ in South Carolina.’

The firm’s first US ‘microfactory’ will be capable of delivering 10,000 electric vans a year

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 9:53 am


Did you read the last part of MarkW’s comment?
“…that need government to push them…”

The wind and solar energy industries today are essentially an artificial products of government. They only exist today because governments are providing the money, the tax incentives and laws and mandates (such as requiring that wind and solar have priority on the grid) which make them possible.

Governments are doing this to pander and acquiesce to the political clout of the environmental movement and the propaganda they spew out. Pandering to the wrong people is something that politicians are very good at doing regularly. The climate alarmist narrative is a smokescreen (as Joe Bastardi calls it) to push wind and solar (among other things) — it has nothing to do with the climate. It’s an anti-fossil fuels religion.

Under normal circumstances, the free market has no interest in anything that does not work. Today however, we are not living in the midst of normal circumstances. Billions of $$$ (trillions?) have poured into wind and solar, yet they only provide 3% of the world’s electrical energy. Why? Because they don’t work. Only govt could make that happen.

Solar panels have had 66 years to make a meaningful difference in in the makeup of energy infrastructures. Using the wind as an energy source is even older. I am still waiting for either one to make any meaningful difference. The physics, engineering and the economics of wind and solar tell us why they do not. Ignoring them doesn’t make them go away Griffy.

If anyone wants to know why I am cynical of politicians, they can look at the massive money and other resources wasted on wind and solar as one example. Politicians are the ones with the ignorance and perverse incentives to pour some of a country’s massive resources into something that doesn’t work.

Watching Blackrock follow them off the cliff with electric van “investments” only adds to the ludicrous picture we are seeing. The ignorant leading the ignorant, the blind leading the blind.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
October 15, 2020 12:38 pm

“The ignorant leading the ignorant, the blind leading the blind.”

and the deliberately ignorant and blind, like griff…… follow willingly

Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 12:33 pm

“UK electric van”

Ahhh back to the old electric driven milk deliveries, hey griff. !

That means you have to produce an increased amount of RELIABLE electricity.

Michael S. Kelly
October 15, 2020 7:03 am

Um, there’s been a government agency doing this since 2009. ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy) was stood up early in the Obama Administration, and held a gala conference in the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in that year. I was trying to do renewable energy development for my then-employer, and attended it. The keynote speakers were all from the pantheon of leftist anti-American elite, from John Holdren (Obama’s “science” advisor, a crank who, in the 1980s, was used as an example of cranks by other cranks) to Tom Friedman of the NYT (!), who lamented that Obama didn’t have the same power as the Red Chinese to impose “optimum” solutions from the top down.

In the technical sessions, the presentations were quite honest and well done. Summing up what I heard, the bottom line was: “alternate” and renewable energy sources are further in the future than nuclear fusion, but without the promise.

ARPA-E’s first year budget was $400 million. It dropped to $180 million in 2011, then rose at a rate of $21 million a year for the next 8 years.

Look at the Wikipedia page for ARPA-E, under “Accomplishments.” It’s amusing.

John F Hultquist
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
October 15, 2020 9:49 am

“alternate” and renewable energy sources are further in the future than nuclear fusion, but without the promise.

How I wish I was smart enough to come up with this statement.

October 15, 2020 7:05 am

Good point about turning lead into gold.
The irony was that the “alchymists” required money to to do the experiment to turn lead into gold.
In the 1500s, the Fugger Bank out of Augsburg was huge. Relative to the economy–perhaps the biggest in history.
In the 1570s it regularly published a newsletter covering important issues.
One edition recorded that only princes and governments were stupid enough to give money to “alchymists”.
Official cupidity at its finest until governments chose Keynesian economics.

Reply to  Bob Hoye
October 15, 2020 8:50 am

Hi Bob,
Climate science “CO2 alchemy” has been by far more successful in skimming successive layers of cream with their lead balloon hypothesis.

Jim Gorman
October 15, 2020 7:47 am

These are all “educated elites” who believe they know how to make utopia if only given a chance. If only they had the power and money to tell the peons what to do, when to do it, how to do it, where to do it, etc. (but not the why) they could make everyone’s life enjoyable. How many times does the world need to let this attempt be made? This has worked in so many places and times. Let me count them, Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, and lately Venezuela. How about the leaders? Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Castro, Chavez. All great leaders whose subjects enjoyed great times while living in freedom.

October 15, 2020 7:48 am

Hey don’t forget the gas to liquids scam investments from former politicos (Gen. Wesley Clark) and oil from lignite in micro refineries at UT Arlington.

October 15, 2020 8:23 am

It takes money to turn a prototype into a product and persuade customers to buy it. It’s also risky.

Programmes like Dragons Den/Shark Tank illustrate why only a few ideas make it.

Markets are usually biased against bad ideas that don’t work.

October 15, 2020 8:29 am

Caution: LENR comment or Cold Fusion comment below!

When diesel motors (powered with peanut oil) were first invented, buggy whip makers probably didn’t notice…immediately.

EVO’s (Exotic Vacuum objects) are being tapped to siphon off some of the energy in E=MC^2

not long, now

Rich Davis
Reply to  Enginer01
October 15, 2020 2:59 pm

Keep holding your breath.

Gordon A. Dressler
October 15, 2020 8:36 am

From the above article: “And in the clean energy field, the United States doesn’t do as well at making that happen as one might be expect . . .”

“Making that happen”, huh? Sounds like what one needs to embark on a communist/socialist style 5-year or 10-year plan.

Fortunately, the capitalistic, free-enterprise system that is the basis of the US economy—by and large—lets the combination of individual choice and free markets determine what technologies develop and how soon they get to market. Need some recent examples? . . . how about innovations in home computers, cell phones, GPS, HDTV, Tesla EVs, smart watches, and wireless ear buds . . . and none of these was driven solely by government mandate.

The saying for US industry is: find a need then fill it. This approach has only lead to the most innovative, highest standard-of-living country on the planet.

And the very last thing we need is yet one more “government-linked foundation” that wants to gorge at the taxpayers’ feeding trough.


Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
October 15, 2020 10:05 am

“I’m from the Government. I’m here to help you.”

Dave Fair
October 15, 2020 9:04 am

Its different for politicians/bureaucrats when betting your money on the future than when you bet your money on the future.

John F Hultquist
October 15, 2020 10:19 am

creating a new foundation that would be authorized by Congress to work closely with the Energy Department

Sounds like another layer of tax payer supported unproductive bureaucrats.

Just place a Small Modular Reactor (SMR) in the innards of cities.
I suggest using raised city parks for properly decorated E-cozys. Themes, contests, and a new urban charm space will follow. Folks can even vote on the spelling of cozys.

Al Miller
October 15, 2020 12:25 pm

“I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.
It’s funny how things that actually work don’t require this intervention and people gladly buy them.
Thus we should all be highly suspicious of things that require government subsidy to survive. In Canada there is a list too long to repeat of companies getting government grants and then saying thanks for the money, goodbye. Delorean comes to mind- looked nice and didn’t work, sounds like a “green” idea. Solar chargers for my phone are a great option – for charging my car – NOT ready for the big leagues.

Larry in Texas
October 15, 2020 4:02 pm

The U.S. economy needs another R&D “foundation” to promote the myth of cheap green energy like I need two heads. The reason that some green inventions haven’t gotten any traction is NOT because somebody in the market place feels like their lunch ticket is threatened. It is because the inventions in question are still uneconomical on a scale of mass production/mass use. Or, in the case of solar and wind energy (as examples), in order to achieve the same level of energy production as that currently obtained by traditional methods of generation (yes, I would include nuclear and hydro power in that latter category), all of that energy being needed to sustain life as we know it now, one would have to cover the earth with windmills and solar panels to do it. If even then! So color me highly skeptical – I don’t need another Obama-like foundation giving funny money grants to Solyndra-like “innovators” or other potential frauds. Nor do I want the Federal government picking winners and losers, either.

October 15, 2020 7:00 pm

Once again, they want to save the world using other people’s money. What could possibly go wrong, apart from massive business failures and whole states being blacked out?

John Pickens
October 15, 2020 9:21 pm

The solar PV scam boils down to taking $0.08/kwh Chinese coal and hydropower generated electricity, and turning into $0.12 to $0.35 / kwh mandated electricity, depending upon which country you’re bilking.

It doesn’t have to break even thermodynamically, those PV panels make money either way.

Not sure if this is the “clean energy” the author envisioned.

October 16, 2020 1:17 pm

re: “How a government-linked foundation could speed the spread of new clean-energy technologies”


Like a certain Bob Park of APS did regarding the hydrino et al?

A “government-linked foundation” advancing scientific work? Won’t work. “Lifer” physics types stand in the way, holding dear to Schrodinger’s equation and the like …

Remember, “Science advances one obituary at a time.”

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