by Kate Bannan on Fri, January 13, 2012
“The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business . . . . In America, innovation doesn't just change our lives. It is how we make our living. . . .This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.”
The mission of the U.S. Department of Energy(DOE) is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions. DOE delivers breakthroughresearch and innovation.
Scientific research is the foundation for innovative solutions that will enable us to solve many challenges. The benefits investment in science and technology to the U.S. economy, U.S. competitiveness and job creation are well known. The National Academies Report “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” stated: “…the economic value of investing in science and technology has been thoroughly investigated…estimates of return on investment for publically funded R&D range from 20 to 67%.” The seed corn is federally funded basic scientific research that produces the discoveries and trains the scientists that eventually create millions of skilled jobs. “While only four percent of the nation’s workforce is composed of scientists and engineers,” the report said, “this group disproportionately creates jobs for the other 96 percent.”
Johns Hopkins University’simmediate past-president William R. Brodyexplains it this way: "Knowledge drives innovation; innovation drives productivity; productivity drives our economic growth. That's all there is to it."
And just this month, the Commerce Department prepared a report, “The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States” that states, “The benefits from federal research and development support are not just theoretical . . . the federal government has played a crucial role in the development of many key innovations of the mid- to late-20th century."
To remain globally competitive, the United States must invest in the research and development that underpins innovation. If history is any guide, we know the benefits of such an investment. According to economic experts, science-driven technology is responsible for over 50 percent of the growth of the U.S. economy during the last half century. Our nation cannot continue to benefit from this kind of economic growth and remain competitive if we do not invest in the kind of basic research and scientific facilities supported by DOE at American universities and national laboratories.
Investment in energy R&D will drive innovation across the economy and maintain American competitiveness. It will create jobs and entire new industries.
DOE plays an important and unique role in the U.S. science and technology community by bringing together scientists and engineers fromnational laboratories, academia and the private sector to form multidisciplinary teams. DOE is the nation’s primary sponsor of research in the physical sciences, and is home to cutting-edge, one-of-a-kind user facilities used by thousands of researchers annually. DOE supports research critical to maintaining U.S. leadership in key scientific fields including biotechnology, materials science, nanotechnology, and supercomputing, all of which are essential to the development of advanced energy technologies that can help free the nation from its dependence on foreign sources of energy. In short, the DOE’s investment in research is essential to our nation’s future competitiveness and a critical component of the federal scientific and innovation enterprise.
DOE strives to find solutions to the most complex and pressing challenges, and plays a leadership role in transforming the energy economy through investments in research, in developing new technologies and deploying innovative approaches in areas including:
- Gasoline and diesel-like biofuels generated from lumber waste, crop wastes, solid waste and non-food crops;
- Automobile batteries with three times today’s energy density that can survive 15 years of deep discharges;
- Photovoltaic solar power with a fully installed cost four times cheaper than today’s technology;
- Computer design tools for commercial and residential buildings to enable reductions in energy consumption of up to 80 percent; and
- Large scale energy storage systems so that variable renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power can become base-load power generators.
Find out more about DOE-sponsored research from the national laboratories and facilities nationwide, as well as from grantees at universities and other institutions via theOffice of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), the office that develops and maintains efficient, state-of-the-arttools for access and delivery of research results from the entire Department of Energy.
Science means economic growth and prosperity. DOE is a proud Science Agency.