U.S. DOE releases second Quadrennial Technology Review

By Katie Fletcher | September 28, 2015

This month, the U.S. DOE released its second Quadrennial Technology Review. The report examines the current status of clean energy technologies, identifying clean energy research opportunities for the power sector.

The report found that emerging advanced energy technologies provide a variety of options to address the nation’s economic, security and environmental challenges, however, continued improvements in cost and performance are needed for the large-scale deployment of these technologies.

The insight gained from these analyzes provides information for decision makers as they develop funding decisions, approaches to public-private partnerships and other strategic actions over the next five years.

Over the course of six technology chapters—grid modernization, clean power, buildings, manufacturing, fuels and transportation—the QTR examines the current status of energy technologies and research opportunities to advance them in addition to key enabling science and energy capabilities.

A number of themes emerged in the QTR. Researchers found that the internet and other technologies are increasingly connecting U.S. energy systems, which could change the outlook for costs and emissions reduction associated with its production. Diversification of energy options is leading to more dependable energy systems and offering consumers new choices. The review found that substantial efficiency opportunities remain untapped, as well as breakthroughs in next generation high-tech tools, like x-ray light sources and supercomputers, are enabling scientists to find new ways to deliver less costly, faster clean energy innovation.

Additionally, this QTR highlights changes in the nation’s energy system over the past four years since the first review. The U.S. has increased wind energy capacity by 65 percent, solar capacity 9 fold, as well as replaced power plants with cleaner, more efficient ones. Over the past four years, the U.S. has become the largest producer of oil and gas combined. The release states that by pursuing the R&D opportunities, as well as the untapped opportunities for greater energy efficiency highlighted in the QTR, the U.S. can move closer to its clean energy future.

“The energy sector in the United States has changed dramatically in recent years due to advances in clean energy technologies, increased oil and gas production and the increased risk to energy infrastructure from extreme weather, cybersecurity and other factors,” said Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy. ”The Quadrennial Technology Review is intended to serve as a blueprint for the Energy Department, its National Laboratories and the public and private sectors as we all work toward additional future technology breakthroughs that can help to mitigate the risks of climate change, modernize our energy infrastructure and enhance our energy security.”

Moniz also stated in the review, “Despite the energy transformation that we have seen and have been part of during the Obama Administration, we face many ongoing energy challenges—mitigating the risks of climate change through clean energy and greatly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, modernizing our energy infrastructure with resilience against the full risk spectrum, enhancing energy security for the United States and our friends and allies.”

QTR 2015 builds upon the first QTR in 2011, focusing on DOE energy technology research, development, demonstration and deployment (RDD&D) activities and complements the work of the Quadrennial Energy Review, which focuses on energy infrastructure and government-wide energy policy. Biomass Magazine reported in April that the QER was conducted in response to a January 2014 presidential memorandum issued by President Obama.

“No challenge poses a greater threat to our future than climate change, which is primarily caused by carbon pollution from energy use,” said Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “The QTR makes clear that we have the technological know-how and innovative spirit to move to a low-carbon economy. It’s up to us to carry these opportunities through and make them a reality.”

The full Quadrennial Technology Review 2015 report can be downloaded here.