U.S. President Obama seeks to double federal clean energy R&D spending


Today Barack Obama will put forth his final budget request as U.S. President, which will include a request to include an additional $1.3 billion in clean energy research and development (R&D) funding to $7.7 billion in fiscal year 2017.

The increase is part of a proposal unveiled on Friday which would see clean energy R&D levels double from $12.8 billion annually in fiscal year 2021, which is the United States’ commitment under the Mission Innovation Initiative. Last November at the Paris climate conference, 20 nations agreed to double clean energy R&D levels under Mission Innovation.

80% of the proposed funding would go to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), but the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and four other agencies would also receive funding.

DOE funding would include a wide variety of initiatives relating to solar and other forms of renewable energy, including $500 million to “increase the use and reduce the costs” of solar and other forms of renewable energy. This includes $213 million in additional funding for the DOE’s Sunshot Initiative.

Bloomberg notes that the opposition Republican Party which holds a majority in both houses of the U.S. Congress plans to oppose the budget. This is the typical beginning of a cycle of counter-proposals, negotiations and concessions which happens annually and which has become more contentious and dramatic under the combination of U.S. President Obama and and Republican majorities influenced by the right-wing “Tea Party” movement.