Describing the Department of Energy as “a science and technology house,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu appeared at an afternoon briefing yesterday to describe the major components of the FY 2010 Department of Energy budget request. Saying that the $26.4 billion request invests in the Obama Administration’s priorities of climate change policy, economic prosperity, national security and legacy, clean and secure energy, and science/discovery/innovation, Chu said that a “science core” was at the center of all the department’s activities.
The first of Secretary Chu’s exhibits set the stage for his remaining presentation. Entitled, as were all of the exhibits, “New Energy for America’s Economy,” it projected non-hydroelectric renewable generation beyond 2028. “On track to double production of renewable generation in next few years,” the exhibit stated. This production is predicted to be significantly higher than it would have been because of the economic stimulus act funding – in the case of wind generation, twice as much as it would have been in 2012.
In addition to traditional research programs funded by the Office of Science, DOE is moving ahead with three different approaches. The first, Energy Frontier Research Centers, would receive $100 million that would support a projected 1,800 researchers and students, primarily at universities, but also at national labs, industry, and non-profits at 46 centers. The focus of these centers will be fundamental, basic science. Chu said that DOE requested $10 million to “stand up” ARPA-E, a new organization charged with the development of breakthrough energy technologies. “Short, intense hits of money” will be provided for three years for “transformative solutions . . . bold attempts to push the envelope” Chu said. Anyone can apply for ARPA-E grants. $400 million was provided to ARPA-E in the economic stimulus act. Chu is now looking for a director for this organization. The Department has also requested $280 million to fund eight Energy Innovation Hubs that will be based on the success of DOE’s three Bioenergy Research Centers. Chu described these hubs as “little Bell Lab-lets,” designed to attract the best people who will be nimble in pursuing research problems in areas such as batteries and photovoltaics.
“Science is on the path to double,” stated a senior DOE official. The section on Science that starts on page 22 of a DOE “Budget Highlights” document provides a summary of the Office of Science’s requests for each of its programs. The following are requested changes in selected program funding:
Total Office of Science:
Up 3.9 percent or $184.1 million from $4,757.6 million to $4,941.7 million.
High Energy Physics:
Up 2.9 percent or $23.3 million from $795.8 million to $819.0 million.
Up 7.8 percent or $39.9 million, from $512.1 million to $552.0 million.
Biological and Environmental Research:
Up 0.4 percent or $2.6 million from $601.5 million to $604.2 million.
Basic Energy Sciences:
Up 7.2 percent or $113.5 million from $1,572.0 million to $1,685.5 million.
Advanced Scientific Computing:
Up 10.9 percent or $40.2 million from $368.8 million to $409.0 million.
Fusion Energy Sciences:
Up 4.6 percent or $18.5 million from $402.6 million to $421.0 million.
It is also important to note, as shown on page 16 of the “Budget Highlights” that each of these programs received considerable funding from the economic stimulus act, ranging up to $555.4 million that will be spent this fiscal year and beyond.