Deep Cuts Announced for Renewables Work in the U.S.

Support for concentrating solar power (CSP) in the United States will drop by 86 percent this year, according to the federal budget.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-04-11 <SolarAccess.com> CSP is one of the larger losers in funding for the Department of Energy under the Bush administration’s budget released on Monday. In FY2000, CSP received US$14.9 million, which dropped to $13.7 in 2001 and will drop to $1.9 this year under the proposed budget. Funding for photovoltaic energy systems will drop to $39.0 million in FY2002, versus $75.0 million last year and $64.5 million in FY2000. The proposed decrease for this year is 48 percent. Most renewable energy technologies will be cut by almost half. Wind energy drops to $20 million from $39.5 million in FY2001 and $31.7 million in FY2000. Solar building technology research will drop to $2 million from $3.9 and $1.9 respectively, while geothermal development will drop to $13.9 from $26.9 and $23.3 million in the previous two years. Hydrogen research will receive $13.9 this year, down from $26.8 and $24.2 in FY2001 and FY2000, while hydropower will drop to $2.5 million from $4.9 and $4.8 respectively. Only biomass was spared a drastic cut, and will be reduced by only 7 percent to $80.5 million, down from $86.2 million in FY2001 and $69.3 million in FY2000. The overall impact on renewable energy technologies is a 37.2 percent reduction from last year, down to $174.2 million from $277.2 million in 2001 and $235.0 million in 2000. Renewable support and implementation will be cut by 76 percent, to $5.1 million from $21.5 million, while electric energy systems and storage will drop 34 percent to $33.9 million from $51.7 million. Program direction will increase by 3 percent to $19.2 million from $18.6 million, while the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will jump 25.3 percent to $5 million from $3.9 million in FY2001 and $1.1 million in FY2000. In total, last year’s $373.1 million DOE budget for renewable energy resources will drop 36.4 percent, to $237.4 million … a loss of $135.7 million in spending. The total request for all DOE spending will be $19.2 billion. The budget request to Congress is an “important first step and prudent transition setting a course toward comprehensive change and reform as the department looks to the future,” says Energy secretary Spencer Abraham. “It advances our energy security, and supports important scientific research.” In addition to DOE’s allocation within energy resources, national security will receive $7.2 billion, an increase of 2.6 percent; environmental quality will receive $6.5 billion, a decrease of 3.6 percent; and science & technology will receive $3.2 billion, an increase of 0.1 percent. While the budget for renewables is cut, new funding of $150 million was announced for the Clean Coal Power Initiative to improve coal technology. “Continuing and expanding programs that have been in place as the country drifted to the brink of an energy crisis does not appear to be a wise course of action,” he explains. “We need a better measure of success in the energy resource area.” The budget assumes the government will raise $1.2 billion from drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the White House proposes to spend that money on alternative energy programs over seven years. The growing opposition in Congress to the drilling proposal may mean the money will never materialize. It proposes an expansion of the 1.5 c/kWh production tax credit for electricity from wind, and to apply it to more power plants. The credit would also be extended for three years. The total spending for all federal accounts would total $2 trillion, with an emphasis on education, social services, international affairs and defence. The combined cuts of $8 billion are designed to fund Bush’s promise of a $1.6 trillion tax cut over ten years.

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