Technology Innovation

2018
Gillingham, K., and J.H. Stock. 2018. “The Cost of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions .” Journal of Economic Perspectives 32 (4): 53-72. Abstract

This paper reviews the cost of various interventions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As much as possible we focus on actual abatement costs (dollars per ton of carbon dioxide avoided), as measured by 50 economic studies of programs over the past decade, supplemented by our own calculations. We distinguish between static costs, which occur over the lifetime of the project, and dynamic costs, which incorporate spillovers. Interventions or policies that are expensive in a static sense can be inexpensive in a dynamic sense if they induce innovation and learning-by-doing.

Last updated on 11/08/2018
Narayanamurti, Venkatesh, and Jeff Y. Tsao. 2018. “Nurturing Transformative U.S. Energy Research: Two Guiding Principles.” MRS Energy & Sustainability 5 (Fall). Publisher's Version Abstract

We raise for debate and discussion what in our opinion is a growing mis-control and mis-protection of U.S. energy research. We outline the origin of this mis-control and mis-protection, and propose two guiding principles to mitigate them and instead nurture research: (1) focus on people, not projects; and (2) culturally insulate research from development, but not science from technology.

Energy research is critical to continuing advances in human productivity and welfare. In this Commentary, we raise for debate and discussion what in our view is a growing mis-control and mis-protection of U.S. energy research. This flawed approach originates in natural human tendencies exacerbated by an historical misunderstanding of research and development, science and technology, and the relationships between them. We outline the origin of the mis-control and mis-protection, and propose two guiding principles to mitigate them and instead nurture research: (i) focus on people, not projects; and (ii) culturally insulate research from development, but not science from technology. Our hope is to introduce these principles into the discourse now, so they can help guide policy changes in U.S. energy research and development that are currently being driven by powerful geopolitical winds.

nurturing_transformative_us_energy_research_two_guiding_principles.pdf
2017
Goldstein, Anna P., and Venkatesh Narayanamurti. 2017. “Simultaneous Pursuit of Discovery and Invention in the US Department of Energy.” Harvard Kennedy School, RWP17-046. Abstract
The division of “basic” and “applied” research is embedded in federal R&D policy, exemplified by the separation of science and technology in the organizational structure of the US Department of Energy (DOE). In this work, we consider a branch of DOE that shows potential to operate across this boundary: the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). We construct a novel dataset of nearly 4,000 extramural financial awards given by DOE from 2010 to 2015, primarily to businesses and universities. We collect the early knowledge outputs of these awards from Web of Science and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Compared to similar awards from other parts of DOE, ARPA-E awards are more likely to jointly produce both a publication and a patent, with at least 5 times higher odds. ARPA-E awards have been productive in creating new technology, without a detrimental effect on the production of new scientific knowledge. This observation suggests the unity of research activities which are often considered separate: that which produces discoveries and that which produces inventions.
Altenburg, Tilman, and Dani Rodrik. 2017. “Green Industrial Policy: Accelerating Structural Change towards Wealthy Green Economies.” Green Industrial Policy. Concept, Policies, Country Experiences, edited by T. Altenburg and C. Assmann. Geneva, Bonn: UN Environment; German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitk (DIE). Publisher's Version