- President Obama has proposed doubling federal investment in clean energy research and development, boosting funding from $6.4 billion this year to $12.8 billion by 2021, as part of an international agreement reached alongside the U.N. climate talks in Paris last year.
- The administration explained that doubling the investment will require about a 15% annual increase in clean energy funding. The 2017 budget already provides $7.7 billion in discretionary funding for clean energy research and development across a dozen federal agencies.
- The largest expense, more than $1.8 billion, will go towards “basic clean energy research” on energy production, conversion, storage, and use, “as well as on advancing our understanding of the earth and its climate,” the administration said.
- Over $500 million will go to increase the use and reduce the costs of clean renewable power from solar, wind, water, and geothermal energy.
Making good on a promise made last year to double research and development (R&D) into the clean energy sector, President Obama has announced a sweeping expansion of funding that will see the United States spend almost $13 billion in 2021 on climate studies, renewable research and the development of greener power options.
“These additional resources will dramatically accelerate the availability of the advanced technologies that will define a future global energy mix that is clean, affordable, and reliable,” the White House said in a fact sheet released this week.
Included in the proposal:
- Almost $900 billion for sustainable transportation technologies, to increase the affordability and convenience of advanced vehicles and domestic renewable fuels;
- About $800 million for programs and infrastructure that support the advancement of nuclear energy technologies, including research and development in advanced nuclear reactor technologies, life extension for existing power plants, and advanced nuclear fuels;
- Over $177 million to support grid modernization, resiliency, and integration of clean energy into the grid;
- And almost $564 million in research into carbon capture and storage technologies as well as other approaches to improve the emissions performance of energy generated from fossil fuels.
Last year in December, representatives from almost 200 nations reached a historic agreement aiming to keep the impact of climate change "well below" 2 degrees Celsius. The deal represents the first time that nearly every nation in the world committed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama's proposal is an early result of that summit.
"Accelerating clean energy innovation is essential to achieving the goal of limiting the rise in global temperatures to well below 2˚C," the White House said.
The budget also includes $350 million in Mission Innovation discretionary funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), and $150 million in mandatory funding for ARPA-E in 2017 as part of the ARPA-E Trust proposal, which seeks $1.85 billion over five years in mandatory funding for the program. ARPA-E's budget would grow to roughly $1 billion under the five-year proposal.
The adminstration's push to double funding raises questions of whether the GOP-controlled Congress will support it, E&E pointed out in its article.
ARPA-E in particular enjoys substantial GOP support, E&E noted, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) describing it as "really pioneering" during a speech on advanced nuclear technologies.
But others cast doubt on whether other Republicans will follow suit.
"There is no way any of this happens," Mike McKenna, a Republican energy strategist, told E&E.