Green focus in US energy budget

08 May 2009

"The prosperity and security of the United States hinge upon an historic effort to power the economy through clean and reliable energy sources," said the Department of Energy's (DoE's) introduction to its request for a FY2010 budget of $26.4 billion.


While not taking a leading role in the DoE's budget documentation, research into advanced nuclear power will recieve a significant part of energy source funding. If the DoE's request is approved and appropriated, $383 million would be allocated "to research and develop advanced nuclear technology and guel cycle technologies with improved safety and proliferation-resistance characteristics."


This would be split into two main programs: $192 for fuel cycle research and development which will "provide a sound basis for any future decision on the US nuclear fuel cycle" and $191 for Generation IV nuclear systems and solving the underlying technology challenges of the six reactor concepts under consideration. There was no mention of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) and the Yucca Mountain program was officially 'terminated' (see Yucca Mountain 'terminated').


  "Currently, nuclear
  energy supplies
  approximately 20% of
  the nation's electricity
  and over 70% of clean
  non-carbon energy."

  "Nuclear energy serves
  as a plentiful and
  reliable supply of energy
Ongoing support for the current industry through the Nuclear Power 2010 program is now at its end. The DoE requested another $20 million to close to down that initiative.


Nuclear's support was comparable to that for other low-carbon energy sources, although the most significant green spending is $671 million to accelerate energy conservation measures.


Solar power is planned to receive $320 million - up 83% on this year - while $75 million could go to wind and $50 million to geothermal. Programs towards clean coal could receive $180 million.


A notable entry was $333 million for the development of low-emissions vehicles. The DoE said it wants "the US to set the global standard for low-emissions transportation technology." It will also make available some $25 billion in loans to car and car part manufacturers to adjust and tool-up for a new generation of advanced automobiles.


Besides power, nuclear energy features highly in the DoE's military-related programs in the form of legacy site clean-up and the work of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).


The NNSA is to have $9.9 billion in FY2010 for its work, which includes repatriating Russian-origin high-enriced uranium. It is building the mixed-oxide nuclear fuel facility at Savannah River to dispose of surplus US plutonium and it's budget is swelled by $1.9 billion over five years for this.

NNSA said that over $1 billion of its funding would go towards Naval nuclear propulsion - the development of a new reactor and propulsion unit for future submarines as well as the refuelling of the S8G training reactor in New York state.


Military site clean-up is allocated $5.8 billion, which comes on top of $6 billion from the recent Recovery Act. A priority for this spending is the decommissioning of underground waste tanks.

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