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What Has the DoE (Department of Energy) Done Lately?

March 5, 2011

DoE 2011 Budget

It has been difficult to identify any commercially successful renewable energy technologies that came out of the Department of Energy (“DoE”).

Your knowledge of any DoE’s renewable energy programs that have or had any commercial impact is welcome.

One would think that any game changing or commercially viable programs would be highlighted in the DoE’s website. The site contains a litany of press releases under “NEWS” most of which tell what they are doing rather than what was done.

NASA’s website contained an easily found sub-tab labeled “NASA in Your Life,” which displayed “Space Shuttle Spinoffs: The Space Shuttle Program has generated more than 100 technology spinoffs that benefit everyday life.” At least NASA is proud of what they accomplished outside of their direct mission.

The DoE’s main goal appears to be creating detailed budget requests with little or no accountability for the effectiveness of how that money is dispersed.

The DoE states: “The mission of the Department of Energy is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.
• Goal 1:  Catalyze the timely, material, and efficient transformation of the nation’s energy system and secure U.S. leadership in clean energy technologies.
• Goal 2:  Maintain a vibrant U.S. effort in science and engineering as a cornerstone of our economic prosperity, with clear leadership in strategic areas.
• Goal 3:  Enhance nuclear security through defense, nonproliferation, and environmental efforts.”

A review of DoE’s FY 2011 Budget Request shows (see summary table below):
• 44% of the DoE’s budget goes towards “Energy Programs.”
• 66% of the DoE’s budget goes towards “Atomic Energy Defense Programs.”
• 6% of the DoE’s budget goes towards “Renewable Energy Programs.”
• 5.2%% of DoE’s budget goes towards “Fossil Fuel Program and R&D.”

It is rather difficult to understand how DoE’s paltry renewable energy expenditures can achieve “Goal 1:  Catalyze the timely, material, and efficient transformation of the nation’s energy system and secure U.S. leadership in clean energy technologies.” Secondly, DoE’s expenditures on fossil fuel are essentially commensurate with that spent on renewables.

All, somewhat interesting and not so surprising! Isn’t that’s why we are still in this mess for some 40 years – mismanagement and misappropriations. It would be helpful to hear from the DoE directly on how they can justify how their budget can achieve Goal 1.

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