FY18 Appropriations Bills: DOE Applied Energy

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Publication date: 
7 August 2017
Number: 
108

The House spending bill for the Department of Energy proposes to halve the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, changes that would upend the department’s later-stage R&D activities. Both House and Senate spending bills also propose a range of less drastic funding cuts to DOE’s other applied energy offices.

The House and Senate Appropriations Committee’s fiscal year 2018 spending bills propose a broad range of cuts for the Energy Department’s applied energy offices. Most severely, the House proposes halving the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and completely eliminating the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, in line with the Trump administration’s budget proposal. The House and Senate bills both opt for smaller reductions to the Offices of Nuclear and Fossil Energy.

The House passed its bill on July 26 as part of a security-focused “minibus” appropriations bill. The Senate bill was approved in committee but has not yet seen floor action. However, both chambers are operating without an overarching budgetary framework for the fiscal year, and final spending outcomes will depend on a bipartisan, bicameral budget agreement.

The disparities between the bills reflect an ongoing debate on the appropriate level of federal support for later-stage energy R&D, with the House encouraging a more limited role than the Senate. The Trump administration has argued DOE should eliminate much of its support for later-stage R&D.

The chart below shows the topline funding changes sought for DOE’s applied energy offices. Detailed tables containing funding figures for selected accounts are available in FYI’s Federal Science Budget Tracker.


Below are summaries of selected provisions from the appropriations committee reports that accompany the bills. The full House report is available here and the full Senate report is available here.

Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy

The most glaring discrepancy between the House and Senate marks is on ARPA–E, with the Senate proposing an 8 percent increase to its $306 million budget in stark contrast to the administration’s request and House’s proposal to eliminate the agency. The House committee provides no funds for ARPA–E and directs it to use its prior-year balances “to conduct an orderly shutdown.” The Senate committee “definitively rejects this short-sighted proposal” and directs DOE to “not use any appropriated funds to plan or execute the termination of ARPA-E.”

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

The House bill would nearly halve the $2.1 billion Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy budget, while the Senate bill would cut it by a much smaller 7 percent.

While the House report zeroed out funds for the Energy Innovation Hubs, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) sponsored a successful amendment during floor debate of the minibus spending bill to restore funding for the hubs, including the Critical Materials Hub and the Hub for Modeling and Simulation. Meanwhile, the Senate report proposes maintaining a $25 million budget for the Critical Materials Hub and a $24 million budget for the Modeling and Simulation Hub. 

The House report accepts the administration’s request to zero out funds for the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI) Institutes, which aim to make major improvements in manufacturing energy productivity and commercialization through partnerships with the private and public sectors. However, the report recommends up to $15 million for related competitive awards and related activities “in order to ensure the most promising early stage research and development efforts of the Hubs and CEMI Institutes are continued.”

In contrast, the Senate report rejects the request to eliminate the institutes, specifying $70 million, or a 17 percent cut below current budget levels. The Senate committee notes it supports the development and acceleration of technologies to be adopted by U.S. industry, which contrasts with the Trump administration’s rejection of technology commercialization.

Office of Nuclear Energy

The House bill would cut the $1.02 billion Office of Nuclear Energy budget by 5 percent, while the Senate bill would cut it by a deeper 10 percent.

Within the office, the Senate report would maintain funding for Advanced Reactor Technologies at its current level of $92 million, while the House report would raise it 36 percent. The House committee’s support of new reactor technologies is particularly expansive, with $60 million tagged “for a solicitation to support technical, first-of-its-kind engineering and design and regulatory development of next generation light water and non-light water reactor technologies, including small modular reactors.” The House committee would also set aside $35 million for R&D to develop a versatile fast test reactor.

In contrast, the Senate committee provides no support for next-generation light water reactor technologies or a versatile fast test reactor, expressing concern that DOE “continues to recommend new programs and projects without showing any commitment to follow through with existing programs, especially programs that show promise.” It further calls on DOE to deliver two reports that would update the committees on current projects and their cost projections and set “aggressive but achievable goals to demonstrate a variety of private-sector advanced reactor designs and fuel types by the late 2020s.

However, both committees agree on spending $40 million on R&D to “safely extend the lives of our Nation’s existing [light water] nuclear reactors from 60 to 80 years.

For nuclear waste disposal, the House report provides the administration’s request of $90 million to restart the adjudication of the Yucca Mountain license application, asserting:

The Department, together with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), has repeatedly confirmed over the years that Yucca Mountain is a safe and secure location to permanently store the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

The Senate report is silent on Yucca Mountain, instead directing DOE to spend $35 million for Integrated Waste Management System activities to “be used to implement plans to consolidate spent nuclear fuel from around the [U.S.] to one or more private or government interim central storage facilities.” 

Both House and Senate committees also indicate their support for continued R&D on nuclear fuel disposition — which includes better understanding the behavior of spent fuel in long-term storage and under different transportation conditions — and propose funding levels of $45 million and $65 million respectively, rebuffing the administration’s proposed cuts.

Fossil Energy R&D

While the House report would cut the $668 million Office of Fossil Energy budget by 5 percent, Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) sponsored a successful amendment during floor debate of the minibus spending bill that would maintain the budget at current levels. The Senate bill would cut the budget by 14 percent.

Both House and Senate reports reject the Trump administration’s proposal to shutter one of DOE’s three National Energy Technology Laboratory sites that develops technological solutions to national energy challenges.

The Senate report calls for a comprehensive assessment of the department’s Office of Fossil Energy, to include “Fossil Energy Headquarters programs, NETL, and relevant competencies of other national laboratories which support the mission of the Office of Fossil Energy.”

Both committee reports would maintain the current $15 million budget for the Feasibility of Recovering Rare Earth Elements program, and both encourage the program to “expand its external agency activities to develop and test commercially viable advanced separation technologies at proof-of-concept or pilot scale that can be deployed near term for the extraction and recovery of rare earth elements and minerals from U.S. coal byproduct sources having the highest potential for success.” Both committees also call for DOE to tap into outside expertise to implement the expanded scope of activities.

Committee report comparison

Below are a set of expandable tabs which contain excerpts from the explanatory reports that accompany the House and Senate appropriations bills.

 

Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy

Senate: “The Committee recommends $330,000,000 for the Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy [ARPA–E], an increase of $356,367,000 above the budget request. Within available funds, the Committee recommends $29,250,000 for program direction.

The budget request proposes to terminate ARPA–E and use funds appropriated in fiscal year 2017 for oversight and management. The Committee definitively rejects this short-sighted proposal, and instead increases investment in this transformational program and directs the Department to continue to spend funds provided on research and development and program direction. The Department shall not use any appropriated funds to plan or execute the termination of ARPA–E. In addition, the Committee remains concerned about the timeliness of the current review process, and directs the Department to continue to move forward on approving Funding Opportunity Announcements.”

 

Crosscutting Initiatives

Energy-water nexus

House: “The Committee recognizes the importance of the Department’s work on the Energy-Water Nexus and as part of that effort, the Committee encourages the Department to enter into an inter- departmental agreement with the Department of Agriculture for research that explores how to integrate ongoing research projects at the various DOE Labs and the Agricultural Research Service to develop affordable, deployable, energy- and water-efficient food production platforms, beginning in food-insecure communities across the country. By working together, DOE and the Department of Agriculture can bring respective strengths and resources to designing the most desirable low-cost and efficient production system.”

Senate: “The Committee recognizes water and energy are critical resources that are reciprocally linked. The Energy-Water Nexus crosscut consists of a collaboration of agencies, national laboratories, State and local governments, utilities, industry, and the science community working collectively to address energy and water resource challenges, specifically as they relate to energy security and energy sector water needs.”

Advanced materials

Senate: “The Committee supports the Department wide crosscut on advanced materials, which focuses on lightweight materials and composites and corrosion and materials under extremes. The Committee understands in previous years, other program offices independently had standalone existing materials programs, and continues to support formal coordination across offices through the Materials Working Group. This is an unprecedented opportunity to impact the materials development cycle from scientific discovery to technological innovation and deployment.”

Arctic Energy Office

Senate: “The Committee supports the promotion of research, development, and deployment of electric power technology that is cost-effective and well-suited to meet the needs of rural and remote regions of the United States, especially where permafrost is present or located nearby. In addition, the Committee further supports research, development and deployment in such regions of enhanced oil recovery technology, including heavy oil recovery, reinjection of carbon, and extended reach drilling technologies; gas-to-liquids technology and liquefied natural gas, including associated transportation systems; small hydroelectric facilities, river turbines, and tidal power; natural gas hydrates, coal bed methane, and shallow bed natural gas; and alternative energy, including wind, geothermal, and fuel cells. The Department is encouraged to support a renewed focus on the Arctic region, and as a cross-cutting activity, use the Arctic Energy Office as a centralized area to support the use of energy resources, but also innovative activities, including microgrids and integrated energy systems.”

Social cost of carbon

House: “The Department should not promulgate any regulations in fiscal year 2018 using the May 2013 estimates for the social cost of carbon until a new working group is convened. The working group should include the relevant agencies and affected stakeholders, re-examine the social cost of carbon using the best available science, and revise the estimates using an accurate discount rate and domestic estimate in accordance with E.O. 12866 and OMB Circular A–4. To increase transparency, the working group should solicit public comment prior to finalizing any updates.”

 

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Early-stage R&D

House: “The recommendation for EERE broadly reflects a gradual shift towards early stage research and development activities. However, where noted in the report, the Committee encourages a limited scope of deployment activities.”

Senate: “The President’s budget request proposes a shift away from later stage research and development activities to refocus the Department on an early-stage research and development mission. The Committee believes that such an approach will not successfully integrate the results of early-stage research and development into the U.S. energy system and thus will not adequately deliver innovative energy technologies, practices, and information to American consumers and companies. Notably, this is the case with complex systems and structures such as America’s homes, offices and other buildings. The Committee provides funding to support a comprehensive and real-world strategy that includes medium- and later-stage research and development; deployment and demonstration activities; and other approaches that are designed to utilize the most effective means to increase buildings’ energy efficiency in order to promote their affordability, sustainability, resilience, and productivity.”

Vehicles technologies

House: “Within available funds, the recommendation includes $72,000,000 for Batteries and Electric Drive Technology.”

Senate: “…Within this amount, the Committee recommends not less than $140,000,000 for Electric Drive Technologies Research and Development, $42,988,000 for Advanced Combustion Engine Research and Development, $25,000,000 for Materials Technology, and $16,000,000 for Vehicle Systems. Within available funds, the Committee recommends not less than $10,000,000 for continued funding of section 131 of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act for transportation electrification. The Committee encourages the Department, when making grants through the Vehicle Technologies Program, to expand opportunities for the demonstration of zero-emissions technologies that will be of practical use in areas of extreme non-attainment with national ambient air quality standards. The Committee also supports early stage research to lower the cost of batteries for electric vehicles through battery processing science, materials research, and modeling and simulation of battery performance, including research on extreme fast and wireless charging, and using high performance computing for electric motor multi-physics discovery for electric drive technologies.”

Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies

House: “Within available funds, $2,000,000 is for the EERE share of the integrated hybrid energy systems work with the Office of Nuclear Energy.”

Solar energy

House: “The Committee encourages the Department to research high efficiency thin-film photovoltaics and processes for high-speed, low-cost processing to produce stable materials on flexible substrates that can be used in residential and commercial power and be integrated into buildings, vehicles, and food production. Research programs are encouraged to include cooperation between industry and academia and to include advanced optical characterization that enables development of strong correlations between materials, cell optical properties, and the photovoltaic power performance of the working solar cells.”

Senate: “The Committee recommends $48,000,000 for Photovoltaic Research and Development. Research programs for high efficiency thin-film photovoltaics and processes are encouraged to include cooperation between industry and academia, and to include advanced optical characterization that enables development of strong correlations between materials and cell optical properties, and the photovoltaic power performance of the working solar cells.”

Clean Energy Manufacturing Institutes / Critical Materials Hub

House: “The recommendation does not include funding for the Critical Materials Energy Innovation Hub, the Energy Water Desalination Hub, or the six Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation (CEMI) Institutes. The Committee supports the request to phase out operations and directs an orderly shutdown at the Hubs and six CEMI institutes. However, in order to ensure the most promising early stage research and development efforts of the Hubs and CEMI institutes are continued, the Committee provides up to $15,000,000 to support competitive awards for similar activities.”

Senate: “The Committee recommends $70,000,000 to support five Clean Energy Manufacturing Institutes [CEMIs], including $14,000,000 each for the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation Institute, the Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, the Reducing Embodied-energy and Decreasing Emissions [REMADE] Institute, and the Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment [RAPID] Institute, and a CEMI selection to be announced. … The Committee is pleased with the ongoing work of the innovative advanced manufacturing opportunities through the CEMIs, and directs the Department to continue funding and support for the institutes.

The Committee recommends $25,000,000 to continue for the Critical Materials Hub. The Committee supports the Hub’s continued focus on technologies that will enable domestic manufacturers to make better use of the critical materials to which they have access, as well as to reduce or eliminate the need for materials that are subject to supply disruptions. The Committee notes that the Hub has focused on high-priority problems and has developed strong milestones. The Committee supports the Hub’s goal of developing at least one technology adopted by U.S. companies within each of its three focus areas: diversifying and expanding production; reducing wastes; and developing substitutes.”

 

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy enabling technology

House: “Within available funds, $47,000,000 is for Crosscutting Technology Development, of which $10,000,000 is for work on advanced sensors and instrumentation, $6,000,000 is for hybrid energy systems, and up to $30,000,000 is to support development of advanced reactor technologies and high priority crosscutting research and development areas; $36,000,000 is for the Nuclear Science User Facilities, of which $5,000,000 is for nuclear energy computation support; $34,200,000 is for Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation; and not less than $9,800,000 is for GAIN initiative activities. The recommendation does not include funds for the Energy Innovation Hub, but includes additional funding within Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation for competitive awards to continue similar activities.”

Senate: “The Committee recommends $120,600,000 for Nuclear Energy Enabling Technology. Within this amount, the Committee recommends $37,000,000 for Crosscutting Technology Development, $28,200,000 for Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation, $31,100,000 for National Scientific User Facilities, and $24,300,000 for the Energy Innovation Hub for Modeling and Simulation. Funding for nuclear cybersecurity and hybrid electric systems is recommended only within Crosscutting Technology Development, as in previous years. Further, the Committee notes that the budget request made the short-sighted recommendation to cancel the Energy Innovation Hub for Modeling and Simulation, despite the important contributions it continues to make to improving operations and safety of operating nuclear reactors, and its likely application in licensing accident tolerant fuels and other advanced technologies.”

Reactor concepts research, development, and demonstration

House: “The recommendation includes $144,300,000 for Advanced Reactor Technologies, of which $60,000,000 is for a solicitation to support technical, first-of-its-kind engineering and design and regulatory development of next generation light water and non-light water reactor technologies, including small modular reactors. The Department is encouraged to work with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to ensure appropriate component, system, and plant certification, regulation, and licensing support is provided to developers of next generation technologies as a part of these activities. The recommendation also includes $30,000,000 for fuel and graphite qualification and up to $5,000,000 for a MW-scale reactor study.”

Senate: “The Committee recommends $132,000,000 for Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration. Advanced nuclear technologies hold great promise for reliable, safe, emission-free energy and should be a priority for the Department. Absent a clear set of goals for completing a program that demonstrates new technology can be deployed, the Department will continue to research concepts that never make it to the marketplace. The Committee directs the Department to provide a report to Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress within 180 days of the date of enactment of this act that sets aggressive, but achievable goals to demonstrate a variety of private-sector advanced reactor designs and fuel types by the late 2020s. The report shall include anticipated costs, both Federal and private, needed to achieve the goals. The Department shall collaborate with national laboratories, nuclear vendors, utilities, potential end users (such as petrochemical companies), and other stakeholders to identify subprogram priorities necessary to meet the identified goals. … Within available funds, the Committee recommends $92,000,000, including $18,000,000 for the third year of the advanced reactor concepts program and $3,000,000 for testing and development of dynamic convection technology. No funds are provided for engineering, design, or regulatory development for next generation light water reactor technologies.”

Versatile fast reactor

House: “The recommendation includes $35,000,000 for research and development to support efforts to develop a versatile fast test reactor.”

Senate: “The Committee recommends no funding for the Versatile Fast Reactor. The Department continues to recommend new programs or projects without showing any commitment to follow through with existing programs, especially key programs that show promise, or providing a detailed rationale for canceling those programs or projects. Accordingly, the Committee is reluctant to support a new multi-billion dollar project. The Committee directs the Department to provide a report to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress within 90 days after the date of enactment of this act that details all current programs and projects within the Office of Nuclear Energy, whether the Department plans to continue to support each program or project, and the expected out-year funding through completion of the program or project.”

Light water reactor sustainability

House: “The Committee also supports the current fleet of reactors as they continue to ensure safe and reliable operations and includes $40,000,000 for the Light Water Reactor Sustainability program.”

Senate: “Within available funds, the Committee recommends $40,000,000. The most cost-effective way for the United States to maintain low-cost, carbon-free electricity is to safely extend the lives of our Nation’s existing nuclear reactors from 60 to 80 years. Therefore, the Committee recommends additional funding above the budget request for this activity as a priority. The Committee directs the Secretary to use funding in this activity to continue research and development work on the technical basis for subsequent license renewal. The Secretary shall focus funding in this program on materials aging and degradation, advanced instrumentation and control technologies, and component aging modeling and simulation. The Secretary shall also coordinate with industry to determine other areas of high-priority research and development in this area.”

Plutonium-238

House: “The Department shall continue to work with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to ensure an adequate supply of plutonium-238 is available for future NASA space exploration missions.”

Fuel cycle R&D

House: “Within available funds, the recommendation provides $71,000,000 for the Advanced Fuels Program, of which not less than $35,000,000 is for the accident tolerant fuels activity and $8,000,000 is for additional support of capability development of transient testing, including test design, modeling, and simulation; $24,000,000 for Material Recovery and Waste Form Development to maintain U.S. competency in the area of fuel cycle technologies; and $8,500,000 for Systems Analysis and Integration.”

Senate: “The Committee recommends $213,500,000 for Fuel Cycle Research and Development. No defense function funds are provided. Within available funds, $14,000,000 is for Material Recovery and Waste Form Development, $6,000,000 is for Materials Protection, Accountancy, and Controls for Transmutation, and $8,500,000 is for Systems Analysis and Integration.”

Integrated Waste Management System

Senate: “The Committee continues to strongly support the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future and believes that near-term action is needed to address the accumulating inventory of spent nuclear fuel. The Committee recommends $35,000,000 for Integrated Waste Management System activities. Funding should be used to implement plans to consolidate spent nuclear fuel from around the United States to one or more private or government interim central storage facilities. Priority shall be given to accepting spent nuclear fuel from shutdown reactors, and to accelerating the development of a transportation capability to move spent fuel from its current storage locations. Within funds provided, the Committee recommends up to $10,000,000 for the Secretary, within existing authorities, to contract for the management of spent nuclear fuel to which the Secretary holds the title or has a contract to accept title, which includes contracting with a private company for consolidated interim storage of spent nuclear fuel.”

Advanced fuels

House: “Within available funds, the recommendation provides $71,000,000 for the Advanced Fuels Program, of which not less than $35,000,000 is for the accident tolerant fuels activity and $8,000,000 is for additional support of capability development of transient testing, including test design, modeling, and simulation…”

Senate: “The Committee urges the Secretary to maintain focus and priority on achieving results in these efforts. The Committee recommends $85,000,000 for the Advanced Fuels program. The Department is directed to continue implementation of the accident tolerant fuels development program, the goal of which remains development of accident tolerant nuclear fuels leading to commercial reactor fuel assembly testing by 2022. Within this amount not less than $55,600,000 is recommended to continue the participation of three industry-led teams in Phase 2 of the cost-shared research and development program. Further the Committee recommends not less than $20,000,000 to support accident tolerant fuels development at the national laboratories and other facilities, including at the Advanced Test Reactor, the Transient Reactor Test Facility, and the Halden reactor. In addition to amounts awarded through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, $3,000,000 is to continue of the previously awarded small business projects to develop ceramic cladding for accident tolerant fuels.”

Used nuclear fuel disposition research

House: “The recommendation provides $45,000,000 to continue generic Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development activities and notes that some previous activities supported by this account are now included within the funding provided to restart Yucca Mountain licensing activities.”

Senate: “The Committee does not adopt the budget proposal to eliminate research and development activities previously funded in this account. The Committee recommends $65,000,000 to continue research and development activities on behavior of spent fuel in long-term storage, under transportation conditions, and in various geologic media, which will continue to be important to developing a new solution to the waste problem. Priority shall be placed on the ongoing study of the performance of high-burnup fuel in dry storage and on the potential for direct disposal of existing spent fuel dry storage canister technologies.

The Committee continues to place a high priority on the development of nuclear fuels with enhanced accident-tolerant characteristics in order to significantly mitigate the potential consequences of a nuclear accident.”

Idaho National Laboratory facilities management

Senate: “The Committee recommends $216,202,000 for Idaho Facilities Management, which includes $12,000,000 above the requested level for operations and maintenance of the Advanced Test Reactor. The Advanced Test Reactor [ATR] is a vital asset that provides research capability across the Department. The Committee does not agree with the Department’s proposal to shift additional costs for ATR operations to Defense function funds, particularly without any justification for the change. The Committee directs the Department to provide a report to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress not later than December 31, 2017, that lists all current and planned users for the ATR for the next 3 years, the operating cost attributed to each user, and the source of funds that will be applied to cover the costs for each user. Further, the Committee encourages the Department to fully fund ATR operations within the budget request for the Office of Nuclear Energy, including both Defense and non-Defense function funding.”

House: “Within available funds, the recommendation includes $238,000,000 for INL Operations and Infrastructure to support the MFC and ATR Five Year Plan to increase reliability and sustainability.”

 

Fossil Energy

Early-stage R&D

Senate: “The Fossil Energy Research and Development program advances transformative scientific research, development, and deployment of technologies that enable the reliable, efficient, affordable, and environmentally sound use of fossil fuels. Fossil energy is an essential part of the United States’ energy future, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory [NETL] supports the Office of Fossil Energy in this critical national priority. The Committee rejects the approach to only provide funds for early-stage research. Such restrictions would cripple innovation and development, and would reduce the number of energy technologies adopted in the marketplace.”

National Energy Technology Laboratory

House: “The Committee notes that the budget request proposed a restructuring of the ‘NETL Research and Operations’ and ‘NETL Infrastructure’ accounts. That restructuring is not included, and the recommendation instead continues the budget structure from fiscal year 2017. … The Committee also notes that the budget request recommends a significant restructuring of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). The Committee does not support the closure of any NETL sites and provides no funds to plan, develop, implement, or pursue the consolidation or closure of any of the NETL sites.”

Senate: “No funds provided in by this Act shall be used for the closure of NETL sites. The Committee is supportive of NETL’s mission to discover, develop, and deploy new technologies to support a strong domestic fossil energy path. The Committee directs the Department to conduct a comprehensive assessment of Fossil Energy writ large to include the Fossil Energy Headquarters programs, NETL, and relevant competencies of other national laboratories which support the mission of the Office of Fossil Energy. The assessment will include an examination of the roles and responsibilities of staff within the Headquarters program, operations offices, and NETL to ensure the fossil energy research and development portfolio and supporting infrastructure are responsive to a cohesive policy strategy. … The Committee recommends $72,663,000 for NETL Research and Development and $58,683,000 for NETL Infrastructure and Operations. … The Committee remains supportive of the reorganization and budget restructuring of NETL, as it increases consistency with other national laboratories. The structure highlights research and development, as well as infrastructure and operational funding requirements, reflects increased transparency in how funds are utilized, and promotes enhanced visibility and oversight into cost drivers and more efficient resource allocation decisions.”

Rare earth elements

House: “The recommendation includes $15,000,000 for the Department to expand its external agency activities to develop and test commercially viable advanced separation technologies at proof-of-concept or pilot scale that can be deployed near term for the extraction and recovery of rare earth elements and minerals from U.S. coal and coal byproduct sources having the highest potential for success. The Committee encourages the Department to leverage the capabilities of outside applied researchers in implementing these activities.”

Senate: “Within NETL Research and Development, the Committee commends the Department for including in their request support for the Feasibility of Recovering Rare Earth Elements. The Committee recommends $15,000,000 for the Department to expand its external agency activities to develop and test commercially viable advanced separation technologies at proof-of-concept or pilot scale that can be deployed near term for the extraction and recovery of rare earth elements and minerals from U.S. coal and coal byproduct sources having the highest potential for success. The Committee encourages the Department to leverage the capabilities of outside applied researchers in implementing these activities. The Committee directs the Department to establish university partnerships to support efforts to increase production of unconventional fossil fuels through innovative seismic research, including optimizing high resolution and time-lapse geophysical methods for improved resource detection and better rock characterization. The objective of this research is to facilitate necessary technology development, expand understanding of subsurface dynamics, encourage prudent development and develop best practices and tools.”

Advanced energy systems

House: “Within available funds, $8,000,000 is for the Advanced Air Separation Program to continue activities improving advanced air separation technologies and $30,000,000 is for Solid Oxide Fuel Cells to focus on research and development to enable efficient, cost-effective electricity generation with minimal use of water and the use of abundant domestic coal and natural gas resources with near-zero atmospheric emissions of CO2 and pollutants. Moreover, central power generation applications of solid oxide fuel cells can be integrated with carbon capture and storage efforts to contribute to a secure energy future. The Committee encourages the Department to support field pilot programs to advance this technology to commercial success. The Committee urges the Department to fund research and development activities to improve the efficiency of gas turbines used in power generation systems, working cooperatively with industry, universities, and other appropriate parties.”

Senate: “Within funds available for Advanced Energy Systems, the Committee recommends not less than $30,000,000 for solid oxide fuel cell systems, which support research and development to enable efficient, cost-effective electricity generation with minimal use of water. The Committee recommends $23,250,000 for Gasification Systems, of which $7,440,000 is for the Advanced Air Separation Program to continue activities improving advanced air separation technologies. The Committee encourages the Department to support research and development efforts for new, higher efficiency gas turbines used in power generation systems to upgrade and increase the resiliency of the Nation’s electrical grid system, while reducing the cost of electricity and emissions. This should include partnerships with industry, small businesses, universities, and other appropriate parties. The Committee supports advancing the maturity of affordable clean energy technology for new plants and upgrading existing plants. The Committee is concerned with the lack of funding for wastewater treatment at existing power plants and supports conducting techno-economic studies and pilot tests of combustion technology to treat coal plant wastewater while generating excess electricity to offset the water treatment costs.”

Crosscutting research

House: “Within available funds, the recommendation provides $16,000,000 for Coal Utilization Science and $31,500,000 for Plant Optimization Technologies, of which $15,000,000 is for the Advanced Ultrasupercritical Program to fabricate, qualify, and develop domestic suppliers capable of producing components from high temperature materials. The Committee encourages the Department to advance technologies that address near-term water needs to treat wastewater or other alternate water sources from operative coal power plants while generating excess electricity to offset water treatment costs.”

Senate: “The Committee supports Advanced Ultrasupercritical Materials research and development to identify, test, qualify, and develop a domestic supply chain capable of producing components from high temperature steam materials.”

 

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