In President Obama’s first inaugural address, he committed this country to combating climate change and protecting the planet for future generations. Together, we have made tremendous progress since then. We have fostered a growing clean energy sector that is creating jobs and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. We have led the world in forging an unprecedented international agreement in Paris to combat climate change. The fiscal year 2017 Budget shows that the President and the Administration remain focused on meeting our greatest challenges including accelerating the pace of innovation.
Since President Obama took office, the Administration has made the largest investments in clean energy in American history. Despite the progress spurred by these investments, the urgency and scale of the climate change challenge demands faster progress. This means continuing to drive down costs and developing new technologies to further enable the deployment of clean energy solutions.
During the 2015 Paris climate negotiations, the President joined with other world leaders to launch Mission Innovation, a landmark commitment to dramatically accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation by investing in new technologies that will define a clean, affordable, and reliable global power mix. Through this initiative, 20 countries and the European Union have committed to seek to double their governmental clean energy research and development investment over five years.
Mission Innovation is complemented by the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a separate private sector-led effort to mobilize private capital to support clean energy technologies emerging from the R&D pipeline. Mobilizing non-federal investment has been a key component of the Administration’s clean energy innovation strategy, such as through the Administration’s Clean Energy Investment Initiative which has catalyzed more than $4 billion of independent commitments by major foundations, institutional investors, and other long-term investors, along with executive actions to scale up investment in clean energy innovation.
To help make good on this commitment, the U.S. Government (USG) will seek to double the federal investment in clean energy research and development from $6.4 billion in FY 2016 to $12.8 billion in FY 2021. Doubling this investment will require about a 15 percent increase in clean energy R&D funding in each of the five years of the pledge.
The FY 2017 Budget makes the Administration’s commitment to Mission Innovation clear by providing $7.7 billion in discretionary funding – about 20 percent more than the FY 2016 level – for clean energy R&D across 12 agencies: the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Tennessee Valley Authority, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. This fact sheet provides additional information about the USG Mission Innovation investment in the FY 2017 Budget.
The U.S. clean energy R&D portfolio spans the full range of research and development activities – from use-inspired basic research to demonstration – and supports progress across the spectrum of clean energy technologies, such as solar, wind, nuclear, sustainable transportation, and buildings efficiency. Investments in the FY2017 Budget include:
Department of Energy (DOE). About 76 percent, or $5.9 billion, of the government-wide Mission Innovation investment in the FY17 Budget supports DOE research, development, and demonstration activities across the spectrum of clean energy technologies. The FY 2017 level for DOE is 21 percent higher than the FY 2016 enacted level. FY 2017 DOE highlights include:
Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). The Budget includes $350 million in Mission Innovation discretionary funding for DOE’s ARPA-E, which supports transformational applied clean energy R&D across a wide array of technologies.Beyond these discretionary funds, the Budget also includes $150 million in mandatory funding for ARPA-E in 2017 as part of the ARPA-E Trust proposal, which seeks $1.85 billion over five years in mandatory funding for the program. Under this proposal, the FY 2021 budget for ARPA-E would equal approximately $1 billion.
National Science Foundation (NSF). The Budget includes $512 million for NSF to support a broad portfolio of investments in fundamental science and engineering research in clean energy. Examples include research related to the generation, harvesting, manufacture, storage, distribution, efficiency, and management of innovative renewable and alternative energy sources and systems for electricity (solar, wind, wave, geothermal etc.) and fuels (chemical and biofuels).
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Budget includes $348 million for clean energy research at NASA in areas such as revolutionary aircraft technologies and configurations to enable fuel-efficient, low-carbon air transportation. For example, to help facilitate aviation community progress toward an ambitious goal of 50% reduction in aviation CO2 emissions by mid-century, NASA is pursuing very advanced research and technology that could enable energy efficiency gains of 50%-60% compared to current state-of-the-art aircraft. NASA is also exploring new low-carbon propulsion systems, specifically electrified aircraft propulsion concepts, which could enable partial electrification of the aviation energy system.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Budget includes $106 million at USDA for competitive and intramural research funding to support development of bio-based energy sources that range from sustainable and economical forest systems and farm products to increased production of cellulosic biofuels. These investments build on an ongoing commitment to advance renewable energy deployment and increase access to clean energy for all Americans.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Budget expands HUD’s clean energy R&D efforts to help facilitate behavior changes among builders, property owners and tenants that result in improved energy efficiency or expanded use of low- and no-carbon energy sources. This $10 million effort includes the creation of an advisory group of researchers, builders, tenants, and homeowners to design and implement studies on how to facilitate long-term behavior change in the housing sector, and the evaluation of a clean energy pilot intended to incentivize multifamily property owners and tenants to reduce energy consumption.
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The Budget provides $25 million for a new R&D effort at USAID through the U.S. Global Development Lab and the Global Climate Change Initiative that will support developing countries' engagement in Mission Innovation, a global public and private endeavor to reinvigorate and accelerate clean energy innovation, to provide a pathway to affordable energy for the developing world. USAID will help developing countries design, incubate, and accelerate clean energy technologies that can be scaled into “bankable projects” that enhance and connect energy demand from developing countries to R&D supply, and to entrepreneurs, investors, and businesses that have joined to invest patient capital in early-stage technology development coming out of Mission Innovation countries.
Department of Transportation (DOT). The Budget includes $47 million for DOT’s clean energy R&D across multiple transportation modes. Examples include alternative fuels and propulsion system R&D for locomotives through the Federal Railroad Administration and the Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise Aircraft Technologies initiative funded through the Federal Aviation Administration, which supports accelerating the development of environmentally promising aircraft technologies and sustainable alternative fuels. Also included is a new effort to evaluate prospects for emissions reduction activities at major ports, covering port operations, landside interfaces, and potential for new marine freight routes. This research effort will identify specific emissions-reducing maritime-related projects with benefits that exceed costs that are suitable for funding from diverse private, State/Local, or Federal sources. As part of this effort, DOT will provide grants for a few site-specific feasibility studies or small matching grants to co-finance pilots to demonstrate emerging technologies, or catalyze projects stymied by institutional barriers.
Department of Commerce (DOC). The Budget provides $55 million for clean energy R&D at the DOC, including important tools and standards development. For example, DOC funds the development of tools needed for assuring safe commercial production, storage, distribution, and delivery of several energy sources and methods and tools for evaluating the life-cycle performance of building products.
Abdullah Hasan is the Assistant Press Secretary at the White House Office of Management and Budget.