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The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy should research and develop small modular reactor technology for Department of Defense demonstration

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The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy should research and develop small modular reactor technology for Department of Defense demonstration.

ARPA-E can spur energy tech for military application—leads to commercialization and adoption

Hayward et al 10

Steven Hayward, AEI Resident Scholar, Mark Muro, Brookings Institute Metropolitan Policy Program, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, Breakthrough institute cofounders, October 2010, Post-Partisan Power, thebreakthrough.org/blog/Post-Partisan Power.pdf

In addition to fostering stronger linkages between government-funded research centers and private sector investors, entrepreneurs, and customers, the DOD can work to more closely connect research efforts and the growing energy innovation needs of the U.S. military.

This close relationship between research efforts and DOD procurement and technology needs was central to the successful history of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), famous for inventing the Internet, GPS, and countless other technologies that have both improved the fighting capabilities of the U.S. military and launched many spin-off technologies American consumers and businesses now take for granted. DARPA program managers had a keen awareness of the technologies and innovations that could improve military capabilities and funded breakthrough innovations aligned with those needs. Once innovations matured into potentially useful technologies, the DOD was there as an early customer for these products, allowing entrepreneurial firms to secure market demand, scale-up production, and continue to improve their products.

Congress made the right move in creating and funding an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) program modeled after the historic success of DARPA. ARPA-E resides within the DOE, however, which is not set up to be a major user of energy technologies. By contrast, DOD has both the opportunity and the urgent need to use many of these technologies.64 The DOD can and should play a greater role in administering ARPA-E and making sure that breakthrough energy discoveries become real- world technologies that can strengthen American energy security, enhance the capabilities of the U.S. military, and spin off to broader commercial use.

Fiscal year 2011 funding requests for the ARPA-E program are currently a modest $300 million, just one- tenth the annual budget for DARPA research.65 Truly bringing the DARPA model to the energy sector would imply scaling ARPA-E up to match DARPA. Given the multi-trillion dollar scale of the energy industry, only funding levels on this order of magnitude will have a significant impact on the pace of energy innovation and entrepreneurship.

We recommend scaling up funding for ARPA-E over the next five years to $1.5 billion annually, with a significant portion of this funding dedicated to dual-use energy technology innovations with the potential to enhance energy security and strengthen the U.S. military. DOD and DOE should extend and expand their current Memorandum of Understanding, established in July 2010,66 and launch an active partnership between ARPA-E and DOD to determine and select nascent dual-use breakthrough energy innovations for funding through the ARPA-E program and potential adoption and procurement by the DOD.


DoD budget aligned with strategic guidance now—additional tradeoffs collapse the entire package

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