- The Omnibus Appropriations bill President Obama signed last week includes billions for energy research, including $1.24 billion for advanced computing and record funding for Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Smart Grid News reports.
- The Office of Science’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research Program, which supports the new Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge, was funded at $621 million.
- The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), created by the America COMPETES Act to invest in high-impact energy technologies, will receive almost $300 million.
The appropriations bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama includes "record-level funding" for basic research at the Department of Energy, according to the chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water Development.
"The bill provides a record-level of funding for basic research at the Office of Science, and it increases funding for deepening our ports and improving our inland waterways," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), said in a statement. "The bill also funds cleanup of hazardous materials at Cold War facilities and strengthens our national security."
“Once again, the world’s fastest supercomputer will be at Oak Ridge National Laboratory," Alexander said. The bill also include $234 million for research into exascale computing. Nuclear infrastructure at Oak Ridge, including hot cells and isotope production facilities, is funded in the bill. Some of the isotopes are used in oil and gas exploration and are not available anywhere else, Smart Grid News reports.
Alexander worked with ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to draft the bill. While she was supportive of the bill, Feinstein added she is "deeply disappointed" that a pilot nuclear waste storage program was not included. "We continue to face risks by having nuclear waste wait indefinitely at power plants throughout the country,” she said.
But Platts reports that DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz plans to start a consent-based approach to finding locations to store waste, which Platts says would be capable of storing waste from operating reactors in 10 years, and other spent fuel in 2048.
The bill provides support for small, modular nuclear reactors, which Sen. Alexander said will give utilities and the military the ability to generate power in new ways. There is also funding for a new mercury treatment facility to help clean up nuclear facilities that are no longer in service in Oak Ridge.