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Energy Research at DOE was it Worth it?: Energy Efficiency and Fossil Energy Research 1978 to 2000
search projects in fossil energy and energy efficiency over this period, the committee selected projects for study and made decisions on the depth of analysis with these values in mind. (Subsequent chapters, notably Chapter 3, discuss the specific judgments that were made in this connection.)
Equally important to the study design, however, are several issues that the committee elected not to address. To some degree, what was not done is the mirror image of the study priorities noted above. Nevertheless, it is useful for the understanding of the report to make explicit that the committee did not do the following:
Attempt to evaluate the likelihood of achieving future results. The committee recognizes—and the reader should understand—that some of the research projects evaluated in the study are still active and have not yet had time to achieve the results expected of them. This is not to suggest that such projects will be unsuccessful, but only that maintaining a careful distinction between actual and promised outcomes is essential to rigorous evaluation.
Assess whether federal funds devoted to energy research could have been better spent in other ways. The analysis presented in this report assesses relative costs and benefits and draws some conclusions about the circumstances that seem to be associated with research that produces more (or fewer) benefits than costs. Whether the benefits are sufficient to justify the costs, given the possible alternative uses of funds, is not within the scope of this study.
ORGANIZATION OF THIS REPORT
Central to the conduct of this study is the development of a comprehensive evaluation framework. Chapter 2 discusses the framework and the rationale behind its development and application; a detailed description of the analytic methodology appears in Appendix D. Chapters 3 and 4 then address the benefits and costs of a representative sample of energy efficiency and fossil energy programs, respectively. Appendixes E and F contain the case studies developed by the committee for the 39 programs. Chapter 5 provides the committee’s overall findings and recommendations for strategies to inform future energy R&D choices.
National Science Foundation (NSF). 2000. Inventory of Historical Tables by Topic from Research and Development in Industry. Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation 25:45-61.