ARPA-E: A Good Beginning for U.S. Energy Innovation
By Bill Gates
Clean energy and innovation are two areas that I’m passionate about, so I’ve been looking forward to investigating some interesting new energy technologies at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit this week.
ARPA-E is a new federal agency—the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy—created in 2009 to fund research of promising, but unproven, energy technologies. It was modeled after DARPA—the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—which was established in the late 1950s to accelerate development of U.S. satellite technology to keep pace with the Soviet Union. Research at DARPA led to a number of fantastic breakthroughs, including GPS technology and the Internet.
The idea behind ARPA-E is to help the U.S. fast-track development of innovative energy technologies that wouldn’t typically be funded by traditional energy companies. If just a fraction of the projects are successful, they could reduce greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change, help the U.S. decrease its dependence on foreign oil, , and keep the U.S. competitive in advanced energy technologies.
I’ve been quite impressed with the people running ARPA-E. In less than three years, they have evaluated hundreds of proposals and made $521 million in grants to support 180 projects.
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