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Report: DOE Insufficiently Funding Renewable Energy Research



Despite growing dependence on foreign energy sources, the Department of Energy's current research and development budget will not support deploying alternative energy sources in the next 25 years to reverse the trend, a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found.


Despite growing dependence on foreign energy sources, the Department of Energy's current research and development budget will not support deploying alternative energy sources in the next 25 years to reverse the trend, a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found.

Since 1978, the Department of Energy (DOE)'s research and development budget for renewable, fossil and nuclear energy dropped by more than 85 percent. When adjusted for inflation, the research and development budget dropped from about $5.5 billion in 1978 to $793 million in 2005, according to the report.

Equally important, the nation's energy portfolio has remained unchanged regarding renewable energy – 6 percent of the nation's energy came from renewable sources in 2004, the same as in 1973, according to GAO.

Faced with competing R&D priorities and budget constraints, DOE’s fiscal year 2007 budget proposed eliminating R&D funding for its geothermal, hydropower, oil, and natural gas programs, the report states.

While federal R&D has declined and the government has relied on the market to determine whether to deploy advanced energy technologies, some gains have been made at the state level. Many states have assumed higher profile roles by enacting standards, mandates, and financial incentives primarily to stimulate renewable energy technologies that address their growing energy needs and environmental concerns, GAO says.


The report cites 22 states that have established renewable portfolio standards requiring or encouraging that a fixed percentage of the state’s electricity be generated from renewable sources; 39 states have established rules for electric power companies to connect renewable energy sources to the power transmission grid and credit producers for excess generation; and 45 states offer tax credits, grants, or loans to stimulate the deployment of renewable energy

Comparing the challenge to that of putting a man on the moon in the 1960's, the report concluded with a call for further stimulating the development and deployment of a diversified energy portfolio by focusing R&D funding on advanced energy technologies.




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  posted on 1/31/2007   Article Use Policy




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