Innovation Before Implementation: Why Obama has US Energy policy right.

State of the Union 2011 300x300 Innovation Before Implementation: Why Obama has US Energy policy right.

State of the Union 2011

During American President Barack Obama‘s equally applauded and mocked State of the Union Address, he made clear his intention to reform America’s energy portfolio.  He promised to alter the US energy focus onto clean energy sources while cutting government assistance to the oil and coal industry, sinking those saved dollars into alternative energy research and development.

“So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources… Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all – and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.”

In the US 2011 Federal budget released this week, Obama’s exact energy policy intentions were more clearly articulated and it appears that he’s got it right.

According to the proposed budget, Obama intends to sink $29.5 Billion dollars into the Department of Energy, a 12% increase from the last budget.  Of that number, $5.4 billion will go to research and development. This includes $853 million  to advanced nuclear research, $550 million  to ARPAE high-risk high-reward research, $457 million to solar power research, and $341 million to biomass.  Additionally a staggering $36 Billion dollars, in addition to the $18 Billion already available, will be set aside as guaranteed loans to Nuclear projects, which Obama hopes will lead to the development of 6-9 new nuclear power projects by 2020.

Obama’s energy plan going forward is essentially this: reduce funding and tax cuts to the power sources of the past while realizing they are still an essential part of the countries energy grid, reinforce and fund the construction of power sources of the now (nuclear), and call for the innovation of clean energy renewables of the future.  Obama’s energy plan understands the technological state of major renewable energy sources limit them to supplementary roles in today’s energy portfolios.  To reduce CO2 emissions from power generation immediately, non-emitting energy sources like Nuclear are the only pragmatic solution. If the United States intends to meet Obama’s challenge of having an 80% non-CO2 emitting power portfolio by 2038,  nuclear will have to be a dominant part of the equation.  That being said, he also fully realizes the importance of innovation; pouring billions of dollars into research and development on future technologies. Unlike here in Ontario, where the focus has been on implementing current renewable technologies to reform our energy portfolio, Obama understands the implausibility of such an endeavor, while challenging American minds to change this implausibility.

This is pragmatic energy policy at its finest, and it’s what the people of Ontario should be calling for come this years’ election.

If Obama’s proposed 2011 US energy funding scheme is able to survive its inevitable trip through political beaurocratic hell, America’s energy plan can be considered the least of their problems. Be it that the GOP and Dems are now somewhat on par in terms of Nuclear policy, the Nuclear loans proposed in Obama’s Federal budget have a strong chance of going unchanged.  However,  the $8 billion in alternative energy research and development is still at risk. Energy portfolio staticity is grossly ill-advised in this day in age; pollution and climate change are issues that will enter state of non-deniability in the coming years, even for the GOP.  Getting behind the curve in alternative energy innovation, be it in advanced nuclear or geothermal, will amplify future growing pains as the Global energy source transition enters an increasingly critical era.

With the regrettable but inevitable fall of Ontario’s Green Energy Plan and the gradual dismantling of many of its intended energy advances, one hopes if the Liberals are able to retain power this fall, they will look to the United States for inspiration for how to right Ontario’s sinking clean energy ship.

Until that time, let us watch as the United States successfully transitions itself into a new era of clean energy generation

 Innovation Before Implementation: Why Obama has US Energy policy right.
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2 Responses to “Innovation Before Implementation: Why Obama has US Energy policy right.”

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  2. Timetrvlr says:

    Good article, keep up the good work!

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