Policy Solutions

Clean Dispatchable Power

US Federal

Research and Development

Federal investment in research and development (R&D) supports economic growth, drives down costs for low-carbon technologies that can be used in the U.S. and exported abroad, and promotes U.S. leadership on clean energy and climate. Investment in R&D for dispatchable-power technologies is driven primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) applied-energy programs, such as the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the Office of Nuclear Energy, and the Office of Fossil Energy. Further R&D for dispatchable power comes from DOE’s national labs and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

Federal policymakers should increase investment and enact programmatic reforms to ensure that DOE expands R&D for:

  • Advanced nuclear technologies, including a Versatile Test Reactor fast neutron testbed that can accelerate testing of new fuels and materials, small modular reactors, and cheaper nuclear fuels;
  • Carbon capture, utilization, and storage for power plants with fossil generation;
  • Advanced fossil-energy technologies--including integrated gasification fuel cells and direct coal fuel cells--that enable easier integration with carbon capture;
  • Advanced supercritical CO2 and ultra-supercritical power cycles that improve efficiencies of thermal energy conversion;
  • Potential bioenergy pathways (fuels produced from algae, for instance) and the combination of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage;
  • Geothermal heat-pump resources, hydrothermal resources, and enhanced geothermal systems (EGS); and
  • Concentrating solar power with thermal storage.

Validation and Early Deployment


Before we can deploy promising clean energy technologies at scale, we must demonstrate and validate their cost and performance in real-world conditions. To reduce these risks, the DOE should develop a robust portfolio of demonstration projects for clean, dispatchable power sources, including advanced nuclear reactors, fossil generation with carbon capture, enhanced geothermal systems, and other large-scale advanced clean dispatchable sources (concentrating solar power plus storage, for example).

Fiscal Incentives

Without targeted policies that promote early-stage deployment, producers often lack the incentive to embrace new technologies. At the same time, consumers tend to shy away from using emerging products. Tax credits, loan guarantees, and other fiscal incentives targeted at the next generation of clean dispatchable electricity technologies can reduce the green premium needed to drive private sector demand. Well-designed tax incentives should be technology neutral, predictable, flexible, and accessible to historically marginalized communities.

Permitting and Licensing Reform

Leveling the playing field for clean dispatchable-power technologies requires regulatory clarity and efficiency. For example, licensing for nuclear-power technologies should be modernized to focus on the most crucial issues, including safety, performance, and environmental protection.

Rapid, Large Scale Deployment

Carbon Pricing

A carbon-pricing system that conveys the true costs of GHG emissions, such as a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade plan, would drive the rapid deployment of clean electricity technologies by raising the relative cost of coal, oil, and natural gas to reflect the environmental harm they cause. In fact, electric power is the economic sector in which carbon pricing can be most effective, because we already have cost-competitive, clean energy alternatives to fossil fuels. Carbon pricing measures should include design elements or be paired with other policies that reduce non-CO2 pollutants from fossil fuel production, particularly in historically disadvantaged communities.

Clean Electricity Standard

A power sector-specific policy option is a technology-neutral clean electricity standard (CES). A CES requires electric utilities to generate or procure some portion of their total electricity sales from qualifying clean energy sources. Under this market-based approach, the government sets a target for the share of clean electricity sold, and utilities are free to choose how they meet that target.

A CES offers an alternative or complementary approach to a carbon price for the power sector.

Technology-Neutral Deployment Tax Credit

Tax credits have already enabled the successful deployment of clean energy technologies—especially wind and solar power. A technology-neutral tax credit for clean dispatchable power can accelerate the development of new technologies further, bringing the electricity sector closer to net-zero emissions.

Technology-neutral deployment tax credits offer an alternative to a CES or carbon pricing. This mechanism is less economically efficient than a carbon price or a CES and would be most effective if paired with carbon pollution standards.

Carbon Pollution Standards

Another alternative to carbon pricing or a CES is to regulate carbon pollution from fossil-fired generators more directly. Policymakers could design such regulations to ensure that new generation would have emissions limits and ensure that historically disadvantaged communities see direct emission reductions and economic benefits.

Additional Electricity Policies