February 16, 2012

Energy Programs in the FY 2013 Budget

Funding requests for energy and energy-related programs are
prominent in President Obama’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget. Here’s a quick
breakdown of the requests that jumped out to me:

National Science Foundation’s (NSF) budget request includes funding for clean
energy programs that are intended to foster American competitiveness, which has
been a focus of the administration in recent years. According to the budget
overview, the administration is requesting an additional $14 million for
research into future clean energy technologies, including solar power and energy
efficiency technologies, bringing the total funding for that research effort to
$355 million. What is notable is the NSF’s research approach would be
interdisciplinary by nature, breaking down stovepipes between energy, climate
and economic research communities to provide “an
integrated approach to increasing U.S. energy independence, enhancing
environmental stewardship, reducing energy and carbon intensity, and generating
sustainable economic growth

Department of Defense (DOD) budget request naturally includes funding for
energy conservation and renewable energy programs given that the department is
the single largest consumer of energy in the federal government. According to
the DOD overview, the budget includes about
$1 billion in requests for energy conservation programs
(up from $400
million in 2010). This request includes $32 million for the Installation Energy
Test Bed Program, which demonstrates
how well new energy technologies would integrate into DOD’s infrastructure of
300,000 buildings
. Meanwhile, funding for Operational Energy Capability
Improvements would increase from about $20 million in FY 2012 to just over $26
million in FY 2013. (DOD
just announced this year’s recipients of Operational Energy Capabilities
Improvement funding

not all of DOD’s energy programs will see continued increases. In particular, the
Navy’s energy program budget will shrink from $70,538,000 in 2012 to
$55,324,000 in 2013. (See pages 37
and 38
.) It is not clear why the Navy’s energy program is shrinking, but it
could be in part due to fewer planned biofuel and other energy demonstrations
in FY 2013, given that the Navy has been steaming ahead quickly with its
biofuel demonstrations over the last several years. I’ll need to dig into this

Department of Energy’s (DOE) budget request also includes funding for renewable
energy programs. According to DOE’s overview, the
budget requests $2.3 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
which provides grants, financing assistance and other incentives to
kick start investments in renewable energy and efficiency projects. Among some
of the projects that would receive funding include: $310
million for the SunShot Initiative, which is intended to help make solar technology
cost-competitive; $95 million for wind-related energy programs, including
offshore turbines; $65 million for geothermal energy; $350 million for the
Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy; and $770 million for the Office of
Nuclear Energy, which according to DOE’s budget overview includes funding for
research into small modular nuclear reactors

Of course, not all of DOE’s energy research funding is focused
on clean energy. According to DOE’s budget overview, “As
part of an overall investment of $421 million in fossil energy R&D, the
Budget includes $12 million to fund a multi-year research initiative aimed at
advancing technology and methods to safely and responsibly develop America’s
natural gas resources

DOE’s budget request also includes a proposal to eliminate “$4 billion per year
in tax subsidies to oil, gas, and other fossil fuel producers
,” arguing
that “As we
continue to pursue clean energy technologies that will support future economic
growth, we should not devote scarce resources to subsidizing the use of fossil
fuels produced by some of the largest, most profitable companies in the world

Keep an eye out on the comments field below for updates from
me as I look more into some of the energy and energy-related spending requests.