Grid-Scale Energy Storage and Electric Vehicles: The Risks of Technology Lock-In and Innovation Mercantilism


Tesla booth
David Hart
11 Oct 2018 (Thursday)
4:00 - 5:00 pm
IAS2042, Lo Ka Chung Building, Lee Shau Kee Campus, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Live Broadcast


Low-cost energy storage, particularly batteries, and electric vehicles are key technologies for the transition to a low-carbon energy system. International competition is quickly emerging in these interconnected domains, which could accelerate the vital processes of innovation and diffusion and hasten the energy transition. In North America, Europe, and Asia, governments and companies are jockeying to position themselves for advantage in these emerging industries. This presentation will review the developing global landscape and highlight two potential threats to innovation in these areas. “Lock-in” is a common phenomenon in industrial history, in which a technology that meets immediate needs boxes out alternatives that have the potential to meet future needs better. “Innovation mercantilism” is a strategy that seeks to advantage local industries, but in doing so unfairly and unnecessarily slows the global pace of innovation.

Presentation Slides 

About the Speaker 

David M. Hart is Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). He co-authored the April 2018 MIT Energy Innovation working paper “Energy Storage for the Grid: Policy Options for Sustaining Innovation” with William B. Bonvillian.

Prof. Hart’s research focuses on clean energy innovation policy. His recent work for ITIF include “ARPA-E:  Versatile Catalyst for U.S. Energy Innovation,” (with Michael Kearney, November 2017) and “Beyond the Pork Barrel: An Assessment of the Obama Administration’s Energy Demonstration Projects (published in Energy Policy, August 2018)  He is the co-author with Richard K. Lester of Unlocking Energy Innovation (MIT Press, 2012).  Prof. Hart served as senior associate dean of the Schar School from 2013 to 2015 and as assistant director for innovation policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) from 2011 to 2012. He co-chairs the Innovation Policy Forum at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.


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