Research and Development (R&D) is critical to advancing energy efficiency by promoting the creation, development, and commercialization of new, energy-efficient technologies and practices. A diverse set of institutions, including federal and state governments, universities, and utilities fund and implement R&D programs for the purpose of advancing energy efficiency. Such programs include development of energy-saving technologies and deployment through public/private partnerships.
R&D efforts can address a number of market failures that impede the diffusion of new, energy-efficient technologies and practices. Private industry investments, for example, may be too fragmented in a particular sector to fund significant energy efficiency R&D. Also, deployment time frames may be too long, or investment risk may be too great for any one business. The projected return for a particular energy application may be lower than for other non-energy investments. Finally, competitive and financial market pressures make it increasingly difficult for the private sector to take full responsibility for long-term R&D. Industry can benefit, however, from government and institutional R&D efforts that provide a nonproprietary knowledge base, specialized resources, and risk-sharing.
The Department of Energy (DOE) energy efficiency programs, spearheaded through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), continue to make important contributions toward increasing the efficiency of buildings, appliances, vehicles and industries across the U.S. At the state level, the Association of State Energy Research and Technology Transfer Institutions (ASERTTI) represents an array of state energy R&D institutions who collaborate and share technical and operational information with a strong focus on end-use efficiency and conservation. Also, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Gas Technology Institute (GTI) conduct collaborative research with their member utilities and other organizations.