Moniz outlines DOE’s budget priorities for fiscal year 2016

Energy Dept. Secretary Ernest Moniz was on the Hill on Feb. 11 testifying in support of the Obama Administration’s recently-proposed fiscal year 2016 budget for the department.

He went before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Moniz wrote in his prepared testimony: “Preparing for the clean energy economy in order to address climate change and energy security, principally through science and technology, is an essential focus of the Department of Energy. The President’s Climate Action Plan is a guiding document for our efforts to mitigate climate change risks through clean energy technologies. The Administration remains committed to an all-of-the-above energy approach, and we believe that we need to enable technologies across all fuel sources to become competitors in a future clean energy marketplace.

“In the last year, we have seen important accomplishments across the Department’s technology portfolio that highlight our all-of-the-above approach. We have geologically sequestered over 9 million metric tons of CO2 through DOEsupported projects. Two commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities supported by DOE grants or loan guarantees have commenced operations. We have commissioned one of the world’s largest battery storage systems at the Tehachapi Wind Energy Storage Project. We have issued ten final appliance energy efficiency standards in calendar year 2014, which altogether will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 435 million metric tons through 2030. Standards enacted since 2009 are projected to avoid a cumulative total of 2.2 billion metric tons of carbon emissions through 2030. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has achieved 70 percent of the SunShot goal of cost parity for utility scale solar energy.

“The Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy’s (ARPA-E) grant program has attracted more than $850 million in private follow-on funding to 34 ARPA-E projects, with 30 ARPA-E teams forming new companies.

“EERE has launched the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE), a first-of-a-kind field laboratory to deploy enhanced geothermal energy systems, and we have seen battery technology improvements that are projected to reduce battery costs for electric vehicles by 40 percent. The Office of Nuclear Energy has successfully completed the first 5-year program at the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) nuclear modeling Hub at Oak Ridge and has initiated a second award for design and licensing support of a small modular nuclear reactor with advanced safety features.

“Consistent with an all-of-the-above energy strategy, the DOE Loan Programs Office has issued loan guarantee solicitations for innovative technologies in four areas, including $4 billion for renewable energy and energy efficiency, $8 billion for fossil energy, $12 billion for nuclear energy, and $16 billion for advanced vehicle technology manufacturing.

“Projects that this program has supported include one of the world’s largest wind farms; several of the world’s largest solar generation and thermal energy storage systems; Tesla Motors; and more than a dozen new or retooled auto manufacturing plants. This program’s accomplishments include issuing loan guarantees for projects that avoided more than 6.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide cumulatively in 2014, and for companies that produced more than 2.1 million fuelefficient vehicles in 2014. We are moving aggressively in finding good projects to deploy innovative energy technologies using the remaining $40 billion in loan authority in the coming years.

“Together, these accomplishments illustrate how DOE’s programs invest in an all-of-the-above spectrum of energy technologies, and the FY 2016 Budget Request continues forward on that strategy with a $5.4 billion request for our applied energy programs.

“The Budget continues to support accelerated advances in renewable energy. The SunShot Initiative has helped accelerate the reduction in solar costs, and our request of $337 million, an increase of $104 million, aims to continue progress to achieve cost parity without subsidies by 2020. For wind energy, the Request of $146 million, an increase of $39 million, includes funding for year five of a six fiscal-year Offshore Wind Advanced Technology Demonstration program supporting three offshore wind projects on track to begin operation in 2017. Our request of $96 million for geothermal energy, $41 million above FY 2015, implements the FORGE, an experimental facility aimed to advance enhanced geothermal systems, and pursues new approaches to hydrothermal development with a special focus on collaborative efforts with the Office of Fossil Energy on subsurface science, technology and engineering.”

Moniz points to battery storage project of Southern California Edison

“As we witness the transformation of our Nation’s electric grid, the Department continues to drive electric grid modernization and resilience. In May 2014, with cost-share funding provided by the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE), Southern California Edison constructed and installed equipment for a prototype 8 megawatt/32 megawatt-hour battery storage plant for wind integration at Tehachapi, CA. The Tehachapi Wind Energy Storage Project is positioned to demonstrate the effectiveness of lithium-ion battery and smart inverter technologies to improve grid performance and assist in the integration of variable energy resources. In addition, we continue improving the security of the Nation’s energy infrastructure. Oak Ridge National Laboratory announced in January 2015 the licensing of its Hyperion software, which helps detect software that has been maliciously altered. Today, more than 20 new technologies that OE investments helped support are now being used to further advance the resilience of the nation’s energy delivery systems.

“In fossil energy, we will continue our across-the-board focus on carbon capture and sequestration and improving the environmental performance of natural gas development. In particular, the FY 2016 Budget includes funding to conduct initial R&D towards demonstration of carbon capture and storage for natural gas plants. While natural gas is an important bridge fuel, natural gas, as well as coal, will need carbon capture and sequestration to compete in a future very low-carbon economy.

“And while the FY 2016 Budget does not request new authority in these areas, the Department has $8 billion in loan guarantee authority for advanced fossil technologies, as I mentioned earlier, and the Department will continue to work with prospective applicants. Through the President’s Budget Request for the Treasury Department, the Administration is also proposing a new, $2 billion refundable investment tax credit, including support for the infrastructure for carbon capture and sequestration, as well as a sequestration credit for commercial carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) deployment to allow for enhanced oil recovery or injection into deep saline aquifers.

“In the area of nuclear energy, the Request includes $62.5 million to continue technical support for moving a small modular reactor to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing stage by the end of 2016, as a step towards industry’s demonstration of this important technology early in the next decade. The Request includes $326 million to support research and development on reactor aging issues, advanced reactor concepts, and the fuel cycle. This request continues to support R&D on nuclear fuel issues at the Idaho National Laboratory. It also supports research on accident tolerant fuels and includes funding to continue laying the groundwork for implementing the Administration’s Strategy for the Management and Disposal of Used Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste, including a consent-based approach to the siting of storage and disposal facilities for nuclear waste. The Request also focuses resources on maintaining operational readiness at the Idaho National Laboratory, including $23.2 million for major power distribution infrastructure refurbishments and $11.7 million for critical security infrastructure investments.

“The Request includes $325 million for ARPA-E, an increase of $45 million from FY 2015, to continue to grow this important program. The program, which received its first appropriation in 2009, is now showing impressive results. It has over 400 projects to date, and the first group of completed projects has led to 30 new companies, of which five have been acquired by large strategic investors. Altogether, 34 ARPA-E projects have attracted over $850 million in follow-on funding. Through ARPA-E, we will continue to invest in early-stage innovation with the potential to lead to transformational energy technologies.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.