Obama proposes $30 million for DOE hydro R&D

President Obama proposes spending $30 million on the Department of Energy’s hydropower research and development program next year — $10 million less than appropriated for this year.

The new figure was included May 7 in details of the president’s $26.4 billion budget proposal for DOE in the 2010 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The proposed amount for the hydropower R&D program represents a 25 percent reduction in what previously was appropriated.

Budget documents issued May 7 total more than 1,500 pages and fill in details of a broad budget outline Obama released in February. The administration’s budget for fiscal 2010 totals $3.4 trillion. The new budget documents are on a White House website, www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget.

The president signed a $410 billion appropriations bill in March that included $40 million for DOE’s R&D program. (HNN 3/11/09) That bill provided for current year R&D for ocean renewable technologies, including demonstration programs, and for conventional hydropower research, development, and deployment. The bill also instructed DOE to use its marine sciences laboratory to expand marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy programs.

DOE said it will use the hydro R&D funding proposed for 2010 to continue technology development and testing, environmental impact studies, resources assessments, and cost analyses. The department’s waterpower program focuses on enabling the development and deployment of advanced waterpower technologies that will increase water-based electrical generation through marine and hydrokinetic technologies, and by increases in incremental conventional hydropower generation.

In an explanation accompanying Obama’s proposal, DOE said the $9.7 million appropriated for the program by Congress in fiscal year 2008 was sufficient to initiate resource and technology assessments and to establish an R&D network.

DOE said funds appropriated for the current year initiated priority activities for marine and hydrokinetic technology development and testing, environmental impact studies, resource assessments, and cost analyses. DOE said it also is using the funds to begin a national assessment of existing conventional hydropower infrastructure to identify opportunities for increased incremental generation, ancillary benefits, and improved environmental performance.

In April, DOE announced it is offering a total of $15 million to DOE national laboratories to address technical challenges in waterpower development, as well as barriers to market acceptance. It also issued a separate announcement offering up to $12 million to interested parties to support research and development of advanced waterpower technologies. (HNN 4/9/09)

Bills now in Congress would authorize appropriations totaling $3 billion over 12 years to promote development and use of marine renewable energy technologies, including wave, tidal, and in-stream energy. (HNN 5/1/09)

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is responsible for the department’s hydropower R&D program. The president’s FY 2010 budget request includes $2.3 billion for the office, an increase of $140 million, or about 6.4 percent above the FY 2009 appropriation for EERE.

DOE seeks no additional appropriations for credit subsidy

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the president’s FY 2010 spending plan complements $38.7 billion the department will invest as part of the $787 billion economic stimulus package passed in February.

The act included $6 billion in appropriated credit subsidy for DOE’s loan guarantee program. Renewable energy systems, including incremental hydropower, that generate electricity and facilities that manufacture related components are eligible for loan guarantees, for projects beginning construction by Sept. 30, 2011.

An advanced renewables solicitation issued by the loan guarantee program closed in February. DOE said it is evaluating 33 projects for $18.5 billion in loan guarantee authority. DOE offered its first conditional commitment for a loan guarantee to a solar power materials production company in March. It said it is not seeking additional appropriations for credit subsidies for FY 2010.

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