Unlocking Long-Term Investment in Clean Energy Innovation
(Climate Action Plan, pp. 7–8.)
To increase funding for clean energy technology across all agencies.
Implementation, Progress, and Outcomes
March 4, 2014: President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2015 Budget. The Budget proposal provides about $6.9 billion in base funding for clean energy technology programs across several agencies, including approximately $5.2 billion for Department of Energy (DOE) projects. A fact sheet available from the White House provides a partial breakdown of these investments. (See Opportunity for All: Building a Clean Energy Economy, Improving Energy Security, and Taking Action on Climate Change 2.)
March 20, 2014: The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) awarded $17 million in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding for projects to develop prototype technologies that would improve manufacturing energy efficiency, reduce clean-energy installation costs, and generate electricity from renewable sources. A spreadsheet with information about the 17 funded projects is available from EERE. (See News Release, DOE, Energy Department Invests $17 Million in Small Businesses to Accelerate Clean Energy Innovation (Mar. 20, 2014).)
May 9, 2014: The White House announced that the General Services Administration (GSA) is identifying possible opportunities for Federal Aggregated Solar Procurements in the Washington, DC, area and in Northern California. By coordinating procurement and project management of multiple federal agencies, GSA’s effort seeks to capitalize on economies of scale, lowering costs, increasing renewable energy production, and reducing overhead. (See Fact Sheet, White House, President Obama Announces Commitments and Executive Actions to Advance Solar Deployment and Energy Efficiency (May 9, 2014).)
The White House also announced that the Treasury Department and the IRS are working on clarifying how renewable energy installations may be held in real estate investment trusts, key components of many investment portfolios that generally only hold real property. (See id.)
• Spurring Investment in Advanced Fossil Energy Projects
By fall of 2013, DOE is to issue a final solicitation making up to $8 billion in loan guarantee authority available for advanced fossil-energy projects under its Section 1703 loan guarantee program.
Implementation, Progress, and Outcomes
December 12, 2013: DOE’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) published the solicitation required by the Climate Action Plan, making up to $8 billion in loan guarantee authority available to support innovative advanced fossil energy projects that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases. (Press Release, DOE, Department of Energy Releases $8 Billion Solicitation for Advanced Fossil Energy Projects (Dec. 12, 2013).)
Although the solicitation will make financing available for a broad range of projects, LPO identified four areas of particular interest: advanced resource development, carbon capture, low-carbon power systems, and efficiency improvements. (Fact Sheet, LPO, Advanced Fossil Energy Projects Loan Guarantee Solicitation.)
The Advanced Fossil Energy Projects Solicitation page on the LPO website provides links to the solicitation, a summary fact sheet, and various other relevant information. The first deadline in the two-stage application process was February 28, 2014.
November 7, 2013: DOE announced that it was investing a total of nearly $84 million in 18 research projects aimed at developing technologies to enable efficient, cost-effective application of carbon capture and storage (CCS) processes at fossil-fueled power plants. One set of projects will focus on more efficiently capturing carbon emissions after the point of combustion at traditional, combustion-based power plants (e.g., most coal-fired plants). A second set of projects will seek to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of pre-combustion carbon capture at advanced, gasification-based electric power plants that break down coal—or almost any carbon-based feedstock—into its chemical constituents before any combustion takes place. (News Release, DOE, Energy Department Invests to Drive Down Costs of Carbon Capture, Support Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Pollution (Nov. 7, 2013).) The full list of funded projects, including brief descriptions, is available on the DOE website. (See Energy Department Investments in Innovative Carbon Capture Projects, energy.gov (last visited Dec. 4, 2013).)
March 4, 2014: President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2015 Budget, which includes $25 million for DOE to support the demonstration of CCS integrated with a natural gas power system. (See Opportunity for All: Building a Clean Energy Economy, Improving Energy Security, and Taking Action on Climate Change 2.)
• Instituting a Federal Quadrennial Energy Review
The administration is to conduct a Quadrennial Energy Review.
Implementation, Progress, and Outcomes
The Department of Energy now has a useful Quadrennial Energy Review web page.
January 9, 2014: President Obama issued a memorandum that established the structure for a conducting quadrennial energy reviews (QER). The memorandum created an interagency Quadrennial Energy Review Task Force, to be led by the directors of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Domestic Policy Council. The task force will include representatives from a broad range of federal departments and agencies and will be responsible for submitting Quadrennial Energy Review Reports to the president, with the first report due on January 31, 2015. (Establishing a Quadrennial Energy Review, 79 Fed. Reg. 2,577, 2,577–78 (Jan. 9, 2014), § 1(a), (e).)
The QER Reports are to present integrated assessments of federal energy policy and offer recommendations for executive and legislative actions and for research, development, and demonstration programs. (Establishing a Quadrennial Energy Review, 79 Fed. Reg. 2,577, 2,579 (Jan. 9, 2014), § 2(a)–(c).) In conducting its assessments and formulating its recommendations, the task force is to engage with a wide range of public and private stakeholders, including state and local governments, tribes, businesses, universities, laboratories, nongovernmental organizations, organized labor, and consumers. (Establishing a Quadrennial Energy Review, 79 Fed. Reg. 2,577, 2,578–79 (Jan. 9, 2014), §§ 1(c)(i), 3.)
The first QER is to focus on the nation’s infrastructure for transporting, transmitting, and delivering energy. (Establishing a Quadrennial Energy Review, 79 Fed. Reg. 2,577, 2,579 (Jan. 9, 2014), § 2(a); Press Release, White House, Obama Administration Launches Quadrennial Energy Review (Jan. 9, 2014).) It will examine the challenges of transformations in energy supply, markets, and use; issues of aging and capacity; impacts of climate change; and cyber and physical threats. (Press Release, White House, Obama Administration Launches Quadrennial Energy Review (Jan. 9, 2014).)
“Over four years, successive installments of the QER will provide a comprehensive set of recommendations on how best to transform America’s energy production, delivery, and consumption systems to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The QER will identify important opportunities to modernize, expand, replace, or transform our energy infrastructure system so that it better accommodates changes in energy supply, integrates cutting-edge information and security technologies, and meets increasing demand for new consumer services.” (John P. Holdren, Cecilia Muñoz, & Ernest Moniz, New Steps to Strengthen the Nation’s Energy Infrastructure, White House Blog (Jan. 9, 2014, 3:40 PM).)
For a discussion of the goals and expectations of the QER, including both critical and supportive perspectives, see Hannah Northey, High Hopes, Hoopla as DOE Digs In on Quadrennial Review, Greenwire (Jan. 31, 2014).
This page was last updated on July 16, 2014.