Long-Range Energy R&D

A Methodology for Program Development and Evaluation

by James T. Bartis


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This report presents a disciplined planning process for evaluating technology development options to meet long-term future energy needs. The six-step process, called the IntraTech approach, begins by developing a foundation for strategic planning. The first step identifies and evaluates problems that threaten continued reliance on current energy sources. The second step uses this threat information to establish strategic goals for long-range research and development (R&D). A major advantage of this planning foundation is that it avoids the use of detailed projections of energy supply and demand, which overly constrain long-term R&D planning. The remaining four IntraTech steps link the long-range strategic R&D goals to detailed, long-term energy R&D needs and opportunities. The third step determines the specific threats and strategic R&D goals addressed by a technology of interest. Next engineering and systems analyses are performed to assess development uncertainties especially regarding risks associated with performance and affordability. Finally, technical analyses determine the fundamental technical problems underlying development uncertainties and establish long-term R&D needs and opportunities. A case study involving high-temperature solid-oxide fuel cells and low-oxygen coal gasification for central-station electric-power generation for the year 2050 is presented to illustrate the IntraTech approach. The methodology is applicable to non-fossil-fuel energy technologies as well. The case study shows that the approach can identify long-term energy goals addressed by a technology concept, identify key performance factors and risks, determine R&D needs and opportunities, and provide insights regarding alternative development options. The approach should be useful for planning, justifying, and implementing programs using specific technology concepts, since it can provide uniform and information across individual technologies.

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Science and Technology for the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy.

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