February 2011
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

On December 1–2, 2010, a group of senior representatives from government, industry, finance, and academia convened at Harvard Kennedy School for a workshop on "Energy Technology Demonstration." The purpose of the workshop was to discuss options for accelerating the commercialization of advanced energy technologies, which are needed to meet the mounting energy challenges facing the United States. Given the diverse constituencies present at the workshop, the expectation was that a simple consensus would not emerge. Three shared policy goals, however, shaped the discussion: energy security, economic competitiveness, and environmental sustainability. The focus of the workshop was on the demonstration stage of the technology innovation cycle. Current policies do not adequately address the private sector's inability to overcome the demonstration "valley of death" for new energy technologies. Investors and financiers fear that the technology and operational risks at this stage of the cycle remain too high to justify the level of investment to build a commercial-sized facility.