After a White House announcement last April regarding the provision of $777 million to fund 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC’s) advancing innovation in clean energy technology, the Department of Energy (DOE) recognized the completion of the funding process last Thursday. The investment represents a much-needed show of governmental support for the research and development of the numerous energy breakthroughs necessary to transition the U.S from dirty to clean energy.
Among the list of 46, 31 centers are affiliated with universities, twelve are DOE national laboratories, two are non-profit organizations, and one is a corporate research laboratory. In total, the DOE has awarded $377 million in funding this year, with $277 million coming from the economic stimulus package (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -ARRA) and the additional $100 million provided by the DOE’s FY2009 budget.
The full $777 million promised in April will be partially allocated over five years to 30 of the institutions in increments of $2-5 million per institution ($100 million per year) while 16 institutions have received five years of funding up front ($277 million from ARRA).
Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who made the announcement last week, drew attention to the need to pursue clean energy innovation and breakthroughs in clean energy technology. Over the five year period, the projects will employ 1,800 people focused on solar energy, biofuels, transportation, energy efficiency, electricity storage and transmission, clean coal and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), and nuclear energy.
In light of the limited funding available for ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy) – which rejected 98% of applicants to its July call for “transformational energy proposals” – and the disappointing bumping of RE-ENERGYSE from the FY2010 energy budget, Chu’s announcement could be a harbinger of at least some promising improvements in the clean tech world.
As the time approaches for the Senate to make a decision on Waxman and Markey’s controversial American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454 – ACES), it remains to be seen whether Congress heeds Chu’s (and others’) call for more aggressive efforts to usher in a revolution in clean energy technology.
Image Credit: Ryan McD at Flickr under a Creative Commons license
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