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House of Representatives

Ernie Moniz

ARPA-E Announces a Different Path for Solar Innovation

Despite the House of Representative’s recent vote to cut appropriations for the Department of Energy’s breakthrough research agency, ARPA-E, by 74 percent, the agency continues to advance the development of next-generation clean energy technologies. ARPA-E recently announced a $30 million funding opportunity, Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight (FOCUS), aimed at developing new hybrid solar energy systems that include storage, at lower costs and with greater performance.

The FOCUS program is looking for projects that research and develop solar technologies beyond current photovoltaic and concentrated solar power models. Research will specifically confront the persistent and most inhibiting performance weakness of existing solar technologies and a major obstacle for improving solar cost competitiveness: providing consistent energy supply when the sun is not shining.

Like ARPA-E projects in general, these solar projects won’t look like your average commercial panels. Instead of funding incremental improvements in solar cell efficiency, ARPA-E’s investments aim to accelerate transformative changes to the way we think about harnessing and controlling solar energy. The FOCUS program recognizes that to reach cost-competitiveness, new solar technologies must not only improve efficiency, they must do so in a way that provides

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Mulvaney Amendment Suggests Big Cuts to Energy R&D Programs

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the FY2013 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill (H.R. 5325) this afternoon, which includes the budget of critical clean energy innovation programs within the Department of Energy (DOE).  The bill, passed by the House Appropriations Committee on April 25, cuts clean energy innovation investment deeply compared to the FY2012 Omnibus and the FY2013 Presidential Request.  Specifically, compared to FY2012 levels, the bill cuts funding for DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) by 27 percent; the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) programs by 24 percent; and the Office of Electricity and Energy Reliability (OE) by 12 percent.  In relation to the FY2013 Presidential Request these cuts look even more significant – 43 percent reduction of ARPA-E funding, 41 percent reduction of EERE funding, and 14 percent reduction to OE funding.  However, many members of Congress are seeking even deeper cuts to these programs.

Among several amendments under consideration by the House is one proposed by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), which would cut all renewable energy-related innovation programs by 24 percent (H.AMDT.1217).  While the amendment exempts reductions to the Army Corps of

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