Historically, energy transitions have occurred gradually over the span of several decades, marked by incremental improvements in technologies. In recent years, public interest in accelerating the next energy transition has fueled a clean-energy policy agenda intended to underpin the development of a decarbonized energy economy. However, policies to date have encouraged investors to fund renewable energy projects utilizing proven technologies that are not competitive without the help of government subsidies. A true transition of the energy mix requires innovations that can compete with conventional energy over the long term. Investments in innovative technology projects are scarce because of the “commercialization gap,” which affects projects that are too capital-intensive for venture capital yet too risky for private equity, project, or corporate debt financing. Accelerating innovation through the commercialization gap will require governments to allocate public dollars to, and encourage private investment in, these riskier projects. Policy-makers will face a trade-off between prioritizing policies for accelerating the energy transition and accounting for the risks associated with innovation funding in a tight budgetary environment.

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