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The Quadrennial Technology Review

The Quadrennial Technology Review


The last four years have been defined by dramatic change in the nation’s energy landscape. Domestic production of oil and natural gas has boomed, causing the United States to become the world leader in combined oil and natural gas production for the last three consecutive years. Electricity generation from solar photovoltaic cells has increased over tenfold and wind power has nearly doubled. Looking forward, the United States faces significant energy-linked economic, environmental, and security challenges. Climate change is one of the most pressing dangers of our time and will greatly magnify all of these challenges unless swift action is taken to reduce carbon emissions. The rapidly evolving nature of energy technology and scientific capability to address these challenges demands rigorous analysis to inform DOE's strategic decisions—a need that the Quadrennial Technology Review will address.

The 2015 Quadrennial Technology Review (QTR 2015) examines 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. The insight gained from this analysis provides essential information for decision makers as they develop funding decisions, approaches to public-private partnerships, and other strategic actions over the next five years.


QTR 2015 builds upon the first QTR in 2011, focusing on DOE energy technology RDD&D activities and complements the work of the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), which focuses on energy infrastructure and government-wide energy policy. The 2011 QTR was developed in response to the Report to the President on Accelerating the Pace of Change in Energy Technologies through an Integrated Federal Energy Policy by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The first QTR defined a framework for understanding and discussing energy system challenges, established a set of priorities for the Department, and explained to stakeholders the roles of DOE and the national laboratories, the broader government, the private sector, academia, and innovation in energy transformation.


QTR 2015 describes the nation’s energy landscape and the dramatic changes that have taken place over the last four years. Specifically, it begins by building on the first QTR and identifying what has changed in the technologies reviewed within it since 2011. It then identifies the RDD&D activities, opportunities, and pathways forward to help address our national energy challenges. QTR 2015 approaches the analysis from a strong systems perspective to explore the integration of science and energy technology RDD&D with cross cutting technology RDD&D, and conducts an integrated analysis of RDD&D opportunities.