With a sustained national commitment, the United States could obtain substantial energy efficiency improvements, new sources of energy, and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through the accelerated deployment of existing and emerging energy-supply and end-use technologies, as described in some detail in Findings 25 in this chapter. Many energy efficiency and energy-supply technologies are ready for deployment now. But some emerging technologies will first require demonstration, either to prepare them for widespread commercial deployment starting about 2020 or to assess their readiness for deployment.

The U.S. energy system encompasses a large and complex installed base of energy-supply and end-use technologies. Transforming this system to increase sustainability, promote economic prosperity, improve security, and reduce environmental impacts as envisioned in Chapter 1 will require sustained national efforts to change the ways in which energy is produced, distributed, and used. The good news from the AEF Committee’s assessment is that there are many practical options for obtaining energy savings, new supplies of energy, and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through widespread and sustained deployments of existing and emerging energy-supply and end-use technologies. The most important of these options are described in Findings 25.

The United States cannot continue to muddle along on its current course if it hopes to transform its energy system. Indeed, both the public and the private sectors will have to be mobilized to achieve the necessary deployments in the decades ahead. Moreover, there is no “silver bullet” technology that can be deployed to overcome U.S. energy challenges. Contributions will be needed from the full array of currently available and emerging technologies:

  • Numerous energy-supply and end-use technologies—energy efficiency, certain renewable-energy sources, and transmission and distribution (T&D) technologies—which can be deployed now and at relatively rapid rates with the appropriate mix of incentives. 1


Such incentives might include carbon taxes, cap and trade systems for CO 2 emissions, and tax credits for investments in energy efficiency or renewable-energy sources. In addition, regulations that require increased energy efficiency in the buildings, transportation, and industrial

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