Trump budget request boosts nuclear, clean coal – while solar, ARPA-E and energy R&D are cut

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U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his fiscal year 2021 budget request, which includes $35.4 billion to fund the Department of Energy (DOE), a reduction of about 8 percent.

Presidential budgets are symbolic gestures that rarely make it through congress. Nevertheless, this budget reveals the administration’s radical goals.

The budget proposal envisions increased funding for nuclear and the questionable pursuit of clean coal, while slashing funding for energy R&D by almost half, from $5.3 billion to $2.8 billion, according to reports.

  • Energy storage is relatively prominent. Solar is not.
  • The only mention of solar is in the context of opening up public lands to energy development by oil, gas, coal, and geothermal and solar
  • Trump wants to shut down the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.
  • In a 180-degree turn from the administration’s long-time stance, there’s no funding sought for the revival of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository plan, according to The Hill.
  • There’s $546 million proposed for the dubious cause of advanced coal energy systems and carbon capture, utilization and storage.
  • $1.3 billion is slated for the Office of Nuclear Energy, including advanced reactor development and the establishment of a uranium reserve

Earlier this month, the DOE did announce up to $125.5M in funding for solar research in: reducing costs of silicon and other PV materials; innovations in manufacturing; systems integration; solar and agriculture; AI in solar; and small innovative projects in PV and CSP.

Slashing the EPA, Energy Star, waterway protection in blue states

The budget takes aims at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), proposing to reduce its budget by 25 %, and cut off funds for the appliance efficiency rating program, Energy Star, as reported in The Hill.

EPA programs intended to be cut or eliminated include those that fight for safe water in disadvantaged communities, the reduction of radon and lead, as well as the Superfund program and its backlog of toxic sites.

Storage gets some mention

Last week, as reported in the Washington Examiner, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the DOE was looking at “innovative solutions” that could include interim storage or other types of storage.

The DOE budget includes $40 million for the Grid Storage Launchpad and $97 million for the Energy Storage Grand Challenge.

Still, these storage and solar numbers pale compared to the dollars being proposed for the coal industry.

Gregory Wetstone, CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, comments in a release: “The Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget would once again dramatically underinvest in clean energy research and innovation.”

Here’s the DOE budget request fact sheet.