58 R&DMagazine December 2013 www.rdmag.com
The energy industry includes a broad array of companies, ranging
from multinational oil and gas firms to large and small technology
firms. Reducing costs of production is a large driver of R&D in the
energy space, and materials development and advanced materials
integration are increasingly important in shaping the industry’s R&D
National and state governments have a significant influence on the
energy industry and long-range research programs. Tax policies
and incentives, renewable energy policies, climate change actions
and strategic considerations shape economic prospects and, in turn,
research directions for industry. Government laboratories (
especially the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories) are key
components of an intensive energy R&D ecosystem.
Although biofuels still face challenges in reaching an economically
competitive production level, this technology is still seen as the most
significant development area by our industry survey respondents.
For 2014, we forecast the level of the energy industry’s R&D will
exceed $7 billion in the U.S. (up 1.7%) and reach nearly $22 billion
globally (up 4.8%).
Trends and Forecast
In this Global R&D Funding Forecast, the energy industry includes
full scope of companies engaged in developing technologies to
generate, transport, store and efficiently consume electricity and
fuels. Production can come from traditional oil and gas fields, wind
turbines or solar panels, and increasingly from biofuels, new oil recovery techniques and shale gas deposits. The firms in this industry
may be standalone energy technology manufacturers or multinational energy producers with significant R&D operations.
Costs of production, materials and R&D all play a role in the direction and growth of the energy industry. Production costs, including
both field production of oil and gas as well as the manufacturing
costs of various energy technologies, are a significant factor in
long-term planning and energy technology development. Many
energy technologies rely on advancements in materials to allow
2014 GLOBAL R&D FUNDING FORECAST
for increased functionality and/or energy generation capacity. For
example, developments in carbon fiber and composite material
technologies enabled the substantial increase in wind turbine size,
allowing for enhanced wind farm electricity production, and hence
viable economics. Solar is another area where on-going materials
developments for photovoltaic applications (e.g., crystalline silicon
versus thin-film versus organic) will enable economically sustainable
deployments in the future. And in the most extreme case, nearly
all approaches to the development of fusion energy will require
extreme performance from constituent materials.
Energy R&D expenditures are often as volatile as the energy
markets themselves. With some current stability in terms of global
oil and gas prices, and with the rationalization of some advanced
energy technology companies, we forecast a 1.7% increase in U.S.
energy industry R&D to $7.3 billion for 2014. Globally, we forecast
a growth rate of 4.8%, due primarily to increasing R&D among
Asian oil and gas firms, to reach $21.8 billion in 2014.
Energy Industry R&D Spending
20. 6 20. 8 21. 8
7. 6 7. 2 7. 3
2011 2012 2013 2014