nologies,” most of which DOE had some part in developing. These technologies include the following:

  • Improved materials and catalysts;

  • Improved instrumentation, sensors, and controls;

  • Improved computer hardware;

  • Improved software;

  • Improved process and combustion modeling; and

  • High-bandwidth communications.

The committee did not attempt to evaluate the role of DOE in these critical facilitating technologies.

This analysis, admittedly subjective, nevertheless suggests that the private sector did in fact develop and deploy many important technologies without DOE participation. On the other hand, DOE did make an influential or dominant contribution in 9 of the 22 technologies reviewed.

The rough conclusion to be drawn from these observations is that the DOE funding of energy R&D is not necessarily associated with the most obviously attractive advances. Rather, as basic economic principles suggest, DOE research should also, and even mostly, be associated with public policy objectives.


Based on this general philosophy, the committee developed a comprehensive framework to define the range of benefits and costs, both quantitative and qualitative, that should be considered in evaluating the programs. The framework is intended to summarize all net benefits to the United States, to focus attention on the major types of benefits associated with the DOE mission, and to differentiate benefits based on the degree of certainty that the benefits will one day be realized. It has been designed to capture two dimensions of publicly funded R&D: (1) DOE research is expected to produce public benefits that the private economy cannot reap and

(2) some benefits may be realized even when a technology does not enter the marketplace immediately or to a significant degree.

The matrix shown in Figure 2–1 and discussed below provides an accounting framework for the consistent, comprehensive assessment of the benefits and costs of the fossil energy and energy efficiency R&D programs. The matrix can be completed for each discrete program, project, or initiative that has a definable technological objective and outcome. The framework recognizes that the technologies being evaluated may be in different stages of the RD&D cycle; as well, by its nature, the framework represents a snapshot in time, with a focus on outcomes of the work performed.

Class of Benefits (Rows of the Matrix)

The classes of benefits, which correspond to the rows of the matrix, are intended to capture types of public benefits appropriate to DOE R&D programs. DOE’s current stated mission spells out these benefits in general terms, as follows (DOE, 2000): “To foster a secure and reliable energy system that is environmentally and economically sustainable, to be a responsible steward of the Nation’s nuclear weapons, to clean up our own facilities, and to support continued United States leadership in science and technology.”

The Strategic Plan expands on the energy aspect of the mission as follows: “The Department is working to assure clean, affordable, and dependable supplies of energy for the Nation, now and in the future. That means increasing the diversity of energy and fuel choices and sources, bringing renewable energy sources into the market, strengthening domestic production of oil and gas, supporting commercial nuclear energy research, and increasing energy efficiency” (DOE, 2000).

The fossil energy and energy efficiency programs each have a mission statement, and the individual R&D initiatives or projects may have more explicit and focused objectives. The approach of each program to benefit analysis, as


Realized Benefits and Costs

Options Benefits and Costs

Knowledge Benefits and Costs

Economic benefits and costs




Environmental benefits and costs




Security benefits and costs




FIGURE 2–1 Matrix for assessing benefits and costs.

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