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BOX 6-6

Illustration of Energy Technologies

The National Commission on Energy Policy in its December 2004 report, Ending the Energy Stalemate: A Bipartisan Strategy to Meet America’s Energy Challenges, recommended doubling the nation’s annual direct federal expenditures on “energy research, development, and demonstration” (ERD&D) to identify better technologies for energy supply and efficient end use. Improved technologies, the commission indicates, will make it easier to

  • Limit oil demand and reduce the fraction of it met from imports without incurring excessive economic or environmental costs.

  • Improve urban air quality while meeting growing demand for automobiles.

  • Use abundant US and world coal resources without intolerable impacts on regional air quality and acid rain.

  • Expand the use of nuclear energy while reducing related risks of accidents, sabotage, and proliferation.

  • Sustain and expand economic prosperity where it already exists— and achieve it elsewhere—without intolerable climatic disruption from greenhouse-gas emissions.

The commission identified what it believes to be the most promising technological options where private sector research activities alone are not likely to bring them to that potential at the pace that society’s interests warrant. They fall into the following principal clusters:

  • Clean and efficient automobile and truck technologies, including advanced diesels, conventional and plug-in hybrids, and fuel-cell vehicles

  • Integrated-gasification combined-cycle coal technologies for polygeneration of electricity, steam, chemicals, and fluid fuels

  • Other technologies that achieve, facilitate, or complete carbon capture and sequestration, including the technologies for carbon capture in hydrogen production from natural gas, for sequestering carbon in geologic formations, and for using the produced hydrogen efficiently

  • Technologies to efficiently produce biofuels for the transport sector

  • Advanced nuclear technologies to enable nuclear expansion by lowering cost and reducing risks from accidents, terrorist attacks, and proliferation

  • Technologies for increasing the efficiency of energy end use in buildings and industry.

SOURCE: Chapter VI, Developing Better Energy Technologies for the Future. In National Commission on Energy Policy. 2004. Ending the Energy Stalemate: A Bipartisan Strategy to Meet America’s Energy Challenges. Available at:

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