2020 Budget Request Could Hamper Clean Energy R&D

According to budget documents released in March by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Administration proposed deep cuts that will reduce new spending on federal programs for clean energy research and development.

The request, if approved, eliminates funding for programs that lawmakers consider critical. This includes the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) that’ll see a slash of 87 percent – from $2.4 billion approved in the 2019 budget to $343 million in new spending come 2020.

At first glance, EERE’s cut seems less extensive because the fiscal year 2020 budget included some past funding that had been delayed.

However, even with the roll-over funds, the new total of $700 million for the department will cripple support for promising and novel technologies such as high-tech materials, advanced wind turbines, green buildings, and much more. The weatherization program that handles hidden pockets of energy asymmetry may also be abolished.

Another program that could take a hit is the Office of Science, which currently funds research in crucial areas such as chemistry and materials research, biology and environmental science, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, and supercomputing.

In fact, this marks the 3rd time the Administration has tried eradicating ARPA-E, which funds emerging, energy-related projects such as improving basic components of solar panels and next-generation batteries.

it’s highly unlikely this proposal will come into play without major changes since the latest numbers need final approval from Congress, which is currently dominated by Democrats, but scientist have pointed out the proposal alone has had a chilling effect.

Scientists around the nation are concerned that they will face instability and resistance in future budgets, which could, in turn, affect their competitiveness and effectiveness.

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