The 2015 Quadrennial Technology Review examines the current status of energy technologies and research opportunities to advance them in addition to key enabling science and energy capabilities. The updated report comes four years after the Energy Department's original Quadrennial Technology Review, issued in 2011.
The 2015 report notes, "The last four years have been defined by dramatic change in the nation’s energy landscape." Huge growth in domestic production of oil and natural gas has made the U.S. the world leader in combined oil and natural gas production for the last three consecutive years. Wind energy capacity has increased by 65 percent and wind energy generation has nearly doubled; solar capacity has increased 9 fold and solar photovoltaic generation over tenfold; old, inefficient power plants are being replaced by cleaner, more efficient ones; transportation efficiencies continue to improve.
It also highlights the Energy Department's view of "the most promising research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) opportunities across energy technologies to effectively address the nation's energy needs. Specifically, this analysis identifies the important technology RDD&D opportunities across energy supply and end use in working toward a clean energy economy in the United States." Individual chapters focus on specific technology types, including grid modernization, clean power, buildings, manufacturing, fuels, and transportation.
The report also draws some overarching conclusions:
- Energy systems are increasingly interconnected through the internet and other technologies, which could enable new paradigms for cost and emissions reduction.
- Increasingly diverse options are available to meet the nation’s energy needs is increasing, creating a more dependable and flexible energy system for consumers.
- Substantial energy efficiency opportunities remain untapped.
- More research and development could lead to innovation and breakthroughs in how to deliver clean energy cheaper and faster.