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U.S. Department of Energy: On a Clean energy mission

By U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz

The mission of the Department of Energy could not be more urgent or important. From our efforts to find affordable and clean sources of energy, to ensuring the security of our nuclear stockpile, to cleaning up the legacy of the Cold War—our work, which includes advancing the science that underpins these missions, is essential to our prosperity, environment, and security.

President Obama advocates an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and I am very much in tune with this. As the President said when he announced my nomination, "we can produce more energy and grow our economy while still taking care of our air, water, and climate."

Since President Obama took office, the global energy landscape has undergone a profound change. In the United States, oil and gas production has increased each year, while oil imports have fallen to a 20-year low. At the same time, renewable electricity generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources has doubled; and carbon emissions have fallen to the lowest level in the U.S. in nearly two decades. These changes have important implications for our economy, environment, and national security.

The President's FY 2014 Budget increases investments in DOE's applied energy programs. These investments include funding for programs designed to help meet the goals of investing in the next generation of renewable energy technologies, advanced vehicles and fuels, and energy efficiency measures that reduce energy use in federal agencies and the industrial and building sectors.

Among these efforts are the Department's successful SunShot Initiative, which aims to make solar energy cost-competitive with conventional sources of electrical energy, and cross-cutting initiatives such as the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, which aims to reduce the overall cost of electric vehicles, and the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative. The Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative focuses on strengthening U.S. competitiveness through both improved manufacturing of clean energy products and, more broadly, increased manufacturing energy productivity. It will help enable U.S. companies to cut manufacturing costs, enhance the productivity of their investments and workforce, and reduce the life-cycle energy consumption of technologies.

We need to support cutting edge research across the board that will help create the clean energy economy of tomorrow. The 2014 budget also requests continued support for the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), to support high-impact energy-related research projects with the potential to transform the energy sector.

ARPA-E has invested in roughly 285 high-risk, high-reward research projects that, if successful, could create the foundation for entirely new industries. Seventeen of these projects, which received an initial investment from ARPA-E of approximately $70 million in total, have attracted over $450 million in publicly-announced private sector follow-on funding. ARPA-E funded companies and research teams have produced a battery that doubled the energy density of any previous design, successfully engineered microbes that use carbon dioxide and hydrogen to make fuel for cars, and developed a one megawatt silicon carbide transistor the size of a fingernail.

The Loan Programs Office at DOE has been a critical force supporting large-scale clean and renewable energy projects and advanced technology vehicle manufacturing here in America. Building on work of the previous administration, the Department of Energy has made a number of investments to support these innovative technologies. When you are talking about cutting-edge clean energy technologies, not every investment will succeed —but the latest indications show that the Energy Department's portfolio of more than 30 loan projects is delivering big results for the American economy.

The portfolio includes 19 new clean energy power plants that are adding enough solar, wind, and geothermal capacity to power a million homes and displace seven million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year—roughly equal to taking a million cars off the road.

As President Obama has said, "Today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy. After years of talking about it, we're finally poised to control our own energy future." The investments included in the Administration's Energy Department budget request are vital to ensuring America's energy security and securing America's place as the world leader in the clean energy economy.

For the Record is an edited version of recently appointed Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz's testimony in June 2013 before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power.

July/August 2013