Strategy Needed to Transform U.S. Energy Economy

green and white leafed plantsStrategy Needed to Transform U.S. Energy Economy

Yesterday, the National Science Board (NSB) released for public review and comment a draft report, Building a Sustainable Energy Future, which calls on the nation to lead the fundamental transformation of the current energy economy from one that is dependent on fossil fuel to one that thrives on sustainable and clean energy.

The NSB collaborated with colleagues and stakeholders throughout the federal, private, academic, and nonprofit sectors to address the challenges and opportunities for sustainable energy in the 21st century. The NSB recommends that the U.S. government develop and lead a nationally coordinated research, development demonstration, deployment, and education (RD3E) strategy to advance a sustainable energy economy that is significantly less carbon-intensive. A sustainable energy economy values environmental and ecosystem stewardship as well as clean, equitable, reliable, renewable, safe, secure, and economically viable energy strategies and solutions.

The NSB offers priority guidance for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to increase its emphasis on innovation in sustainable energy technologies and education.

“Together, these approaches can help to promote national security by increasing U.S. energy independence, ensure environmental stewardship by reducing energy and carbon intensity, and generate continued economic growth through innovation in energy technologies and increases in green jobs,” said Dan Arvizu, co-chairman of the NSB’s Task Force on Sustainable Energy.

U.S. reliance on fossil energy sources has given rise to a global call for a sustainable energy economy. Trends for the next quarter to half century suggest little change in the future global energy mix without concerted international action. The scale and speed of adopting sustainable and clean energy technologies fall short of what is necessary to address today’s challenges, which will only become more acute with the passage of time.

“Our report calls on the U.S. federal government to take the lead and set an example,” said NSB Task Force on Sustainable Energy Co-chairman Jon Strauss. “NSF in particular is well poised to play a pivotal role in a sustainable energy strategy: to identify and support research in innovative technologies and to support education and workforce development to improve our future.”

The NSB developed this draft report through the work of its Task Force on Sustainable Energy, created in October 2007. The Task Force examined ways in which the federal government could address the science and engineering challenges related to building a sustainable energy future in the United States.

In 2008, the Task Force held three public roundtable discussions in Washington, D.C.; Golden, Colo.; and Berkeley, Calif. Soon thereafter, the task force developed recommendations concerning a national sustainable energy RD3E strategy, with a specific emphasis on defining NSF’s role in carrying out the strategy.

The report is available online at: Comments will be accepted via email to: The public review and comment period is open until 5 p.m. EST, Fri., May 1, 2009.

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