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FY 2012 Department of Energy Office of Science, ARPA-E Requests

Richard M. Jones
Number 20 - February 22, 2011  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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“With every initiative the Department undertakes, sound science is at the core.”  So states an FY 2012 Department of Energy budget document submitted to Congress.  Under the request, the budget for the Department of Energy would increase by 11.8 percent or $3.1 billion, as compared to the FY 2010 current appropriation level, to $29.5 billion.  Funding for the Office of Science would increase by 9.1 percent.  The Administration is requesting $550.0 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy.

President Obama is continuing the effort started by President Bush in 2006 to double the budgets of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, and the research programs of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Research supported by these agencies has been identified as vital to ensuring U.S. leadership in science and technology.  Recommendations to double the funding for these agencies were made in the Rising Above the Gathering Storm reports, and were the foundation for the original America COMPETES Act, and its recent reauthorization.  

The DOE “Budget Highlights” document explains the critical role of science as follows:

“As the President has articulated, innovation is essential to America’s economic competitiveness. To meet the challenge of ‘our generation’s Sputnik moment,’ the Department . . . [will] support a coordinated strategy for research and development across all of its programs. With every initiative the Department undertakes, sound science is at the core. In FY 2012, we will increasingly emphasize cross-cutting initiatives to link science throughout the Department, specifically with energy and national security programs in order to deliver results to the American taxpayer. In the Office of Science, the Department requests $5.4 billion, a 9.1 percent or $452 million increase over the FY 2010 current appropriation levels, to support an elevated focus on the advancement of the United States’ leadership in fundamental research. Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) is building on established gains since its creation in FY 2009 to perform transformational research for ARPA-E to sustain investment in new energy technologies.

“Energy Innovation Hubs play a key role in solving specific energy challenges by convening and focusing top scientific and engineering talent to focus on those problems. The Department is proposing to double its commitment to this research approach by requesting three new Hubs to focus on batteries and energy storage, critical materials, and Smart Grid technologies and systems. The Department will continue funding the three Energy Innovation Hubs introduced in FY 2010 to focus on developing fuels that can be produced directly from sunlight, improving energy efficient building systems design, and using modeling and simulation tools to create a virtual model of an operating advanced nuclear reactor. Each of these Hubs will bring together a multidisciplinary team of researchers in an effort to speed research and shorten the path from scientific discovery to technological development and commercial deployment of highly promising energy-related technologies.  Complementing the Hubs, the Department plans in FY 2012 to continue coordination with the Office of Science’s Energy Frontier Research Centers, which exemplify the pursuits of broad-based science challenges for energy applications.”


The document states:

“In FY 2012, SC [Office of Science] continues to support fundamental research for scientific discovery, but today our country needs to move strongly to solve our energy problems. Therefore, the central theme of this year’s budget in SC is research in new technologies for a clean energy future that address competing demands on our environment. These efforts, coordinated with the DOE applied technology programs and with input from the scientific community and industry, will emphasize research underpinning advances in non-carbon emitting energy sources, carbon capture and sequestration, transportation and fuel switching, transmission and energy storage, efficiency, and critical materials for energy applications.”

The section in the Budget Highlights document on the Office of Science can be found on page 17.  The following requested amounts are as compared to the FY 2010 appropriation:

Total Office of Science:

Up 9.1 percent or $452.2 million, from $4,963.9 million to $5,416.1 million.

The FY 2010 appropriation contained $74.7 million for congressionally directed projects for which the Department did not requesting funding. 

Advanced Scientific Computing Research:

Up 21.5 percent or $82.4 million from $383.2 million to $465.6 million.

Basic Energy Sciences:

Up 24.1 percent or $386.0 million from $1,599.0 million to $1,985.0 million.

Biological and Environmental Research:

Up 22.1 percent or $129.9 million from $588.0 million to $717.9 million.

Fusion Energy Sciences Program:

Down 4.3 percent or $18.0 million from $417.7 million to $399.7 million.

High Energy Physics:

Up 0.8 percent or $6.4 million from $790.8 million to $797.2 million.

The budget document states: “The Tevatron Collider at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) completes operations by FY 2012. Its record-breaking performance over the last few years means it remains competitive with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland, for significant discoveries. The Fermilab accelerator complex will operate for part of FY 2012 to support the neutrino program and then shut down to install planned upgrades to the neutrino beam lines.”

Nuclear Physics:

Up 15.9 percent or $82.8 million from $522.5 million to $605.3 million.

The budget document states: “The FY 2012 request continues support for the two highest priorities in the 2007 Long Range Plan for Nuclear Science: an energy upgrade of the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) and construction of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. These investments in forefront facilities for new research capability, the first in the NP program in over ten years, will secure global U.S. leadership in research on the quark structure of nucleons, nuclear structure, and nuclear astrophysics. The increases required for these two high priority projects have required strategic decisions elsewhere in the program, most notably the closure of the Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility (HRIBF) in FY 2012.”


The budget document’s section on ARPA-E can be found on page 23.  It states:

“ARPA-E is a priority for the administration. ARPA-E was created to be a catalyst for innovation. ARPA-E’s objective is to tap into the risk-taking American ethos and to identify and support the pioneers of the future. With the best research and development infrastructure in the world, a thriving innovation ecosystem in business and entrepreneurship, and a generation of youth that is willing to engage with fearless intensity, the U.S. has all the ingredients necessary for future success. The goal of ARPA-E is to harness these ingredients and make a full-court press to address the U.S.’s technological gaps and leapfrog over current energy approaches.

“In accordance with ARPA-E’s statute, the agency will focus on overcoming long-term and high-risk technological barriers in the development of energy technologies. These technologies are those that are too risky for the private sector to invest in, but if overcome they will address the statutory goals: (i) to reduce foreign imports of energy; (ii) to increase energy efficiency across all economic sectors; (iii) to reducing emissions; and (iv) to ensure US technological lead in developing and deploying advanced technologies.”

ARPA-E did not receive an FY 2010 appropriation.  It did receive funding under the economic stimulus act.  For FY 2012, the Administration is requesting $550.0 million.  The document explains: “An additional $100 million in mandatory funding is proposed from the Wireless Innovation Fund for developing cutting-edge wireless technologies.”

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics