Department of Energy

Energy Hubs + Regionalism = A New Vision for Innovation
February 16, 2010

Add energy research to the list of arenas in which Team Obama has recognized the power of regional economies to deliver innovation as well as economic growth. On Friday, the Obama administration announced that no less than seven federal agencies were issuing a combined funding opportunity announcement of up to $130 million over five years to turn one of the Department of Energy’s energy innovation hubs into true a regional innovation center. Centered on the second of DOE’s three energy research hubs, the new Energy Regional Innovation Cluster (E-RIC) initiative is noteworthy because it shows t

Budget 2011: Driving Innovation Despite the Budget Cap
February 05, 2010

President Obama’s pledge to cap domestic non-defense spending in the FY 2011 budget did not mandate an across-the-board freeze, and nowhere is that fact more welcome than in the area of innovation investments. In lean times the new budget strongly favors basic science and applied research. Because it does, the budget represents an important step toward delivering on Obama’s signal commitment last spring to boost U.S.

Obama Ramps Up Support For Nuclear
January 29, 2010

Guess Obama wasn't kidding when he gave all those shout-outs to nuclear power in his State of the Union address on Wednesday. According to Bloomberg, Obama's 2011 budget will request $54 billion in loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors—triple the previous amount. Here's the industry's case for expanded loan guarantees: Industry groups such as the Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute have said the loan guarantees are critical to reviving the industry because most companies can’t afford the capital investment in a facility that can take a decade to complete.

A Little Skepticism About Algae Fuels
January 25, 2010

Making biofuels out of algae has always sounded like a promising idea. In theory, at least, you could create a green alternative to gasoline without any of the drawbacks of corn- or soy-based ethanol (spikes in food prices, increased deforestation, etc.). ExxonMobil's already sinking $600 million into R&D, and a lot of the $80 million that the Energy Department just handed out for biofuels research went toward algae-related projects. Trouble is, there are still kinks to work out.

Chu: Seriously Folks, We're In Favor Of Nuclear
January 21, 2010

Early last year, the Obama administration effectively canceled longstanding plans for a nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain. That decision wasn't exactly a surprise: On the campaign trail, Obama had promised Nevadans that he'd shutter the unpopular project (there are perks to being an electoral swing state, after all), and, of course, the current Senate majority leader hails from Nevada.

October 20, 2009

If readers of The New Republic’s website will let their eyes stroll down the right side of the page, they’ll discover a blog called “The Avenue.” It’s not the sexiest title, and it’s not about the latest White House rumors, but it’s one of the best running commentaries on how the federal government, and state and local governments are trying, or failing, to rebuild the economy.  I’d point to a comment by Mark Muro and Sarah Rahman on the occasion of the Nobel Prize for Physics about how the corporate labs where breakthrough research was nurtured have largely been shut down. And how the Obama a

Energy Pork: Why the Green Future May Take a While
October 19, 2009

Stephen Power has a good story in the Wall Street Journal that explains a lot about why America’s clean energy future may be a while in coming.  Power notes that although Energy Secretary Steve Chu set out this year to begin reshaping America's energy future with a network of highly-focused, results-oriented research labs, lawmakers have been busy with business-as-usual. He reports that instead of fully funding Dr.

And The Solar Decathlon Winner Is...
October 16, 2009

Score another one for German engineering. Out on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., this week, the Energy Department has been hosting its fourth-ever Solar Decathlon—a competition among 20 designs for solar-powered houses from around the world. The houses compete across ten categories (hence "decathlon"), ranging from the amount of electricity they can feed back to the grid to the quality of parties they can host.

The Senate Climate Wrangle Begins
October 01, 2009

Yesterday, Democratic Sens. Kerry and Boxer dropped their initial version of a Senate climate bill, so the game’s on. We’ll defer to Brad Plumer’s Vine post for a good side-by-side comparison, but suffice it to say the Kerry-Boxer Senate outline looks a lot like the Waxman-Markey bill that passed the House earlier this year, with a few differences.  Like the Waxman-Markey legislation, the Senate version sets emissions targets (a little stricter than the House standard with a 20 percent emissions reduction from 2005 levels required by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050).

Deep, Deep Geothermal Runs Into Trouble
August 20, 2009

On paper, at least, "enhanced" geothermal is an incredibly alluring concept. The idea is to bore down, really deep down into the Earth's crust—say, 12,000 feet below the surface—and then pump water through the cracks in the hot bedrock, creating steam to generate electricity.