. "3 Evaluation of the Energy Efficiency Programs." Energy Research at DOE: Was It Worth It? Energy Efficiency and Fossil Energy Research 1978 to 2000. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2001.
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Energy Research at DOE was it Worth it?: Energy Efficiency and Fossil Energy Research 1978 to 2000
ogy for midsize sedans will be applicable to sport utility vehicles and light trucks, and the manufacturers are carrying forward on that. The heavy-duty truck sector is now being accentuated by DOE’s recently established 21st Century Truck Initiative, and again some of the PNGV technology is applicable.
While none of these programs has yet made a dent in the nation’s energy consumption, none has attained the required degree of emissions control, and none has reached the affordability goal, progress has been made, and the committee believes that at least partial success is almost certain.
From the case studies in the transportation sector, especially from the PNGV case study, the committee believes that the following lessons are evident:
The most significant lesson learned from DOE’s transportation technology R&D is that DOE can be highly effective in stimulating and aiding R&D in the private sector by partnering on programs aimed at the public good. An important feature of such partnerships is the teaming of government and industry representatives in the selection and planning of the research projects to be pursued. By this means, appropriate roles for DOE and industry contributions can be determined, overall integration of the program is advanced, and buy-in by all the partners in the final result is more probable.
A second lesson is that good lines of communication need to be established over the full range of directed exploratory research, development, demonstration, and deployment to market. Inputs from industry on marketing must be carefully considered in the implementation of any new technology, and they should clearly be included early in any R&D program, as they were in PNGV. Typically, DOE has not considered the market or made efforts to assess consumer needs before embarking on new technology development. To deal with these issues and to avoid wasted effort and money, DOE needs inputs from the companies involved in marketing the technologies. DOE’s role here is to consider inputs from industry about marketing when designing and directing programs in order to avoid waste and focus on barriers to introduction of the technologies.
Another lesson learned is that care must be taken to assure that goals and objectives are not set so far out as to be utterly unattainable. This does not mean that “stretch” goals are to be avoided. But it does mean that unrealistic goals should not be promoted to such an extent that interim or compromised successes are ignored and the overall program is incorrectly labeled a failure. PNGV suffers from this threat. The public and news media are not likely to comprehend strategic research goals. Also, deadlines that are set too soon as a result of regulations or improper assessment of difficulties lead to rushed R&D programs too narrowly focused on near-term development.
It is appropriate in a large R&D program directed at a single goal to structure a portfolio of parallel projects with varying potentials for success. However, a clear plan should be in place to terminate (downselect) at the earliest possible time those projects that do not show progress toward realization, with appropriate consideration of the technical barriers and potentials and with reasonable flexibility. Roadmaps with scheduled milestones and go/no-go decision points should be carefully established and frequently reviewed for changes.
DOE should identify in each program the most critical barriers to success and focus its R&D on overcoming them. Given limited resources, a smaller number of carefully chosen projects will usually be more productive. In general, long-term, high-risk, directed exploratory research aimed at these critical areas is more appropriate for DOE than near-term product development.
Peer review of large R&D programs on a regular basis is useful for program management, to force researchers from different organizations to communicate, to avoid technical narrowness, and to help terminate programs, which is sometimes necessary.
To decide whether a given public good (benefit) is worth an economic cost to the nation (or the R&D cost to DOE), some measure of the value of that public good is needed. In the case of environmental and energy security, the values are matters of public policy and are ill-defined. DOE may make inputs to these policy decisions, but in the final analysis it can only seek the most cost-effective means to achieve those benefits with the funds available to it, limited only by the point at which R&D becomes ineffective or wasteful. PNGV industry representatives at one point stated that they did not need more funds but rather could use more ideas.
FINDINGS AND JUDGMENTS
The committee agreed on the following set of findings and judgments about the benefits derived from the energy efficiency R&D case studies examined by the committee. These cases were developed from EE7 inputs and with additional inputs from a variety of other sources, including interviews with industry representatives and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The cases included by the committee account for only about 20 percent of the total EE R&D budget expenditures from 1978 to 2000. They constitute about 5 percent of the total buildings sector budget, 13 percent of the industry sector budget, and 38 percent of the transportation sector budget.
Finding 1. DOE made significant contributions over the last 22 years to the well-being of the United States through its energy efficiency programs. These programs led to impor-
EE refers to the energy efficiency component of DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.