Why State Funded Energy R&D Doesn’t Work

Dr. Stephen Chu, President-elect Barack Obama’s selection to head the Department of Energy, is a vocal proponent of wasting taxpayer money on research & development for alternative energy.  Dr. Chu prefers to think of state r&d as an “investment,” but “waste” is the appropriate terminology.

The fundamental shortcoming of government funded R&D is government’s inability to successfully perform the development part. That’s the process by which an innovation (itself a product of the research component) is brought to the market and made economically viable. It culminates when consumers find value in the aforementioned innovation, and start to buy it in sufficient quantities to make the enterprise of that innovation profitable.

It is a complex process that is dependent on myriad intangibles, such as trial-and-error tinkering and circumstance. Successful development is diffuse and unpredictable…..

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