Proposed Cuts to DOE Water Power Program Announced
OREC Disappointed — Pledges to Work with Congress to Increase Funding
President Obama released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget proposal yesterday with only $20 million included for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Water Power Program, a 66 percent reduction from the funding level set by Congress in the FY12 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill. This Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) program is charged with supporting efforts to research, test and develop innovative technologies capable of generating clean and affordable electricity from water resources.
"This is disappointing news for the entire U.S. water power industry,” said Sean O'Neill, OREC's president. "Conventional hydropower already provides substantial electricity to consumers and stands ready to do more. Marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies, including wave, current and tidal, have demonstrated substantial progress and offer the promise to deliver clean, affordable and American made energy to the U.S. grid and deserve continued funding support.”
MHK technologies generate electricity from predictable and forecastable waves, tidal flows, currents and in-stream sources. The United States has significant marine energy resources, and with more than fifty percent of the American population living within 50 miles of the coast, a cost-effective MHK industry could provide a substantial amount of electricity for the nation.
DOE recently released two nationwide resource assessments which demonstrate that the waves and tidal currents off the country's coasts could contribute significantly to the United States' total annual electricity production. Approximately 1,420 TWh per year, or roughly one-third, of the total annual electricity usage could theoretically be satisfied by the electricity generated from waves and tidal currents. DOE is currently developing an aggressive strategy to support its vision of producing at least fifteen percent of our nation's electricity from water power by 2030.
Commercialization of technologies to harness marine renewable energy resources will require federal funding to augment research and development efforts already underway in the private sector. Just as the wind and solar industries have received DOE funding support for over two decades (which has resulted in the rapid deployment of these technologies in recent years), the nascent marine energy industry seeks similar federal assistance to develop promising technologies that are on the verge of commercial viability.
Unfortunately, the proposed Water Power Program funding cuts contained in the FY13 budget request are not supported by the Department of Energy's own resource assessments of the potential positive impact of marine renewables on energy production and job creation. "The President's budget request for marine renewables is seemingly misaligned with the DOE-funded resource assessments and outlook for the potential of water power technologies to deliver electricity to the grid,” stated O'Neill.
OREC has pledged to work with its supporters in Congress to secure a stable level of funding, commensurate with FY 2012 levels, to aid in MHK commercialization efforts by member organizations.
About the Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition
The Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition (OREC) (http://www.oceanrenewable.com ) is the only national trade association exclusively dedicated to promoting marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies from clean, renewable ocean resources. Founded in 2005, the Coalition has grown to over 60 members including technology developers, consultants, law firms, investor-owned utilities, publicly owned utilities, universities, and scientific and engineering firms. The coalition is working with industry leaders, academic scholars, and other interested NGO's to encourage ocean renewable technologies and raise awareness of their vast potential to help secure an affordable, reliable, environmentally friendly energy future.
OREC seeks a legislative and regulatory regime in the U.S. that fosters the growth of ocean renewable technologies, their commercial development, and support in the race to capture the rich energy potential of our oceans. While other countries have already deployed viable, operating, power generating projects using the emission-free power of ocean waves, currents, and tidal forces, the U.S. is only beginning to acknowledge the importance of these technologies.