Report: Trump DOE hits brakes on new energy research funding

Dive Brief:

  • Since President Donald Trump took office in January, funding opportunities out of the U.S. Department of Energy have slowed significantly compared to the previous administration, E&E News reports, with some offices issuing no new funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) at all since the the new administration came to Washington. 
  • Trump's proposed budget would cut DOE funding by about 6%, and would eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), a tech incubator for early-stage energy research projects.
  • Federal funding opportunities are a major part of finance for some research institutions, and are a strong link between the government and private sector research. ARPA-E's project investments attracted more than $1.8 billion in private sector funding since 2009.

Dive Insight:

Trump's proposed "skinny budget" would cut federal research for a host of advanced energy and renewables projects, and it appears the administration is already throttling back on funding. 

An E&E News analysis of funding opportunity announcements since Jan. 20 shows DOE has offered up $117 million in three FOAs. During the same period last year, with President Obama in the White House, that number was more than $530 million.

The reduction is possibly due to staffing staffing levels, as the White House has left many positions vacant thus far. Trump's proposed budget also contains unspecified cuts to the Department of Energy offices on efficiency and renewables, fossil energy and electricity delivery and reliability. Those offices would be refocused on "early-stage applied energy research where the federal role is stronger," according to the budget. 

However, the proposal would allocate $120 million to restart licensing activities for a nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain, Nev., and "initiate a robust interim storage program."

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Filed Under: Regulation & Policy Technology
Top image credit: DOE