The budget proposed by President Obama includes US$28.4 billion for the Department of Energy (DoE), including US$108m in new funding to advance and expand research renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal.
While DoE’s overall budget increases by 6.8% compared with the current fiscal year, and spending under its ‘energy efficiency & renewable energy’ appropriation increases by 5% to US$2.3bn, in third place behind $US5.5bn for defence environmental cleanup and US$5.1bn for science.
DoE Secretary Steven Chu, says: “This budget supports new approaches to energy research and invests in the next generation of scientists and engineers, and it will spark new clean energy projects nationwide, including restarting the American nuclear power industry.”
The proposed budget for DoE “positions the United States to be the global leader in the new energy economy by developing new ways to produce and use clean and renewable energy” and promotes innovation in the renewable energy sector through the use of expanded loan guarantee authority.
It funds scientific approaches to energy priorities at its national laboratories such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and “expands the use of clean, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal while supporting the Administration’s goal to develop a smart, strong, and secure electricity grid.”
Funding by renewable technology
By renewable energy technology, funding for wind energy will increase 53% to US$122.5m, geothermal by 25% to US$55m, solar by 22.4% to $302m and water power by 19% to US$40m, while funding for biomass and biorefinery systems remain static at US$220m.
The budget proposes no funding for hydrogen technology (save US$174m) although new funding of $US137m is proposed for hydrogen & fuel cell technologies.
Key investments for the proposed budget include activities which “demonstrate that renewable energy can be provided at a large scale and built quickly,” including more than 1 GW of concentrating solar power (CSP) in a single cluster; support at least one large-scale offshore wind project in the USA; and build or expand on areas currently targeted for deployment by developers.
It also pledges to “drive continuous reductions in the price of wind and solar power, making them fully competitive with other energy sources on an aggressive schedule.”
Renewable energy research
Additions in the proposed budget include US$217m for science research and discovery, including US$107m for Energy Innovation Hubs and US$300m for the Advanced Research Project Agency - Energy (ARPA-E). It provides lending authority to support US$40bn in loan guarantees for clean and renewable energy programmes and US$108m in new funding to advance and expand research in wind, solar and geothermal energies.
It will also promote renewable energy and energy efficiency projects with US$500m in credit subsidy to support US$5bn in projects.
DoE’s Strategic Objectives and High Priority Goals include the doubling of electricity generation capacity from renewable sources by 2012.
Cuts in conventional energy programmes
Several programmes are proposed for reductions or terminations, including the elimination of US$2.7bn in tax subsidies for oil, coal and gas industries, in a step that will yield US$38.8bn in revenue for the federal government over the next decade. It also terminates the Ultra-Deepwater exploration programme (saving US$50m) and cancels a planned expansion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (saving US$71m).