Clean energy research central to Energy Dept budget request

The Obama administration is highlighting a 21 percent increase in clean energy research funding as a top priority in its Department of Energy (DOE) budget request.

DOE detailed the request Tuesday as part of the administration’s rollout of President Obama’s final budget sent to Congress, though Obama unveiled the clean energy aspect Saturday in his weekly address.

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The agency wants $5.85 billion in fiscal year 2017 for clean energy research as part of its $32.5 billion request to Congress. The overall budget is a 10 percent increase from the previous year.

“The president’s budget request would accelerate American energy innovation, increase our energy and national security, and expand our commitment to science and research,” Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizStop wasting tax dollars on failing nuclear projects Trump vows hard line with Iran, setting stage to decertify deal Renewing America’s commitment to nuclear energy MORE told reporters Tuesday.

“It also reflects DOE’s continuing commitment to maintain our nuclear deterrent, secure vulnerable nuclear material, and clean up our Cold War legacy,” he said.

The clean energy piece is part of Mission Innovation, a 19-country pledge to double the world’s research funding for energy sources like wind, solar, nuclear and carbon capture by 2021.

“Mission Innovation is one of the centerpieces, clearly, of what we are moving forward this year, and what we hope will be part of a bipartisan, multi-year push for a much stronger support for innovation activity,” Moniz told reporters.

One of the main features of DOE’s clean energy program is the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), an office created in 2009 off the model of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a defense research agency.

The Obama administration proposed an additional $150 million for ARPA-E, part of a five-year plan to grow the office’s funding to $500 million a year, a 70 percent increase.

DOE wants a new program for regional clean energy research, to create up to 10 centers around the country in partnership with local entities.