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Three billion dollars. That's the amount of cash the U.S. Department of Energy could devote to its research budget to get more plug-in vehicles on the road.
On Tuesday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu revealed a strategy designed to reduce oil imports and slash pollution, one that could shift billions of research dollars towards plug-in vehicles and modernizing our grid. In its first-ever "Quadrennial Technology Review," (PDF) the DOE prioritized research that it deems could be ready for commercialization within ten years. Plug-in vehicles grabbed a spot on the list.

The Nobel Award-winning Chu stated:
The stakes are high for our country, and I am optimistic that we can still lead the world in technological innovation. With this QTR, we bind together multiple energy technologies with the goal of transforming our energy system. By unleashing technological innovation, we can help create new jobs and industries while building a cleaner, more efficient, and more competitive economy.
In all, the DOE-QTR emphasis six key strategies: increasing vehicle efficiency; electrification of the light-duty fleet; deployment of alternative fuels; increasing industrial efficiency; modernizing the electrical grid; and deployment of clean electricity. The DOE's spending totaled $3 billion in fiscal year 2011, so investing billions of dollars into plug-ins would certainly make sense in a multi-year plan.
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Department of Energy Releases Inaugural Quadrennial Technology Review Report

September 27, 2011 - 1:09pm

Report Provides a Roadmap for Advancing Key Energy Technologies and Outlines a Clear Vision of the Department's Goals for Energy Innovation

WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy Department today released it's inaugural Quadrennial Technology Review report (DOE-QTR) – an assessment of the Department's energy technology research and development portfolios. The DOE-QTR establishes a robust framework for the Department's energy technology activities, including principles it can use to prioritize its technology research and development. Inspired by the Quadrennial Defense Review, the DOE-QTR was recommended by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) as an initial step toward a government-wide Quadrennial Energy Review to help formulate a national energy policy.

"Innovation in energy technology is going to be central to solving our energy challenges," said John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Co-Chair of PCAST. "New energy technologies can reduce the cost of energy services to firms and families, improve the productivity of manufacturing, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, increase the reliability and resilience of our energy infrastructure, and reduce the risks from climate change, even as they strengthen and sustain U.S. competitiveness in global markets."

"With this QTR, we bind together multiple energy technologies with the goal of transforming our energy system," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "By unleashing technological innovation, we can help create new jobs and industries while building a cleaner, more efficient, and more competitive economy."

In an effort to address our nation's challenges, energy security and U.S. competitiveness, the DOE-QTR defines six key strategies: increase vehicle efficiency; electrification of the light duty fleet; deploy alternative fuels; increase building and industrial efficiency; modernize the electrical grid; and deploy clean electricity. Findings of the DOE-QTR include:

DOE should give greater emphasis to the transport sector relative to the stationary sector.
Among the transport strategies, DOE will devote its greatest effort to electrification of the vehicle fleet, a sweet spot for pre-competitive DOE R&D.
Within the stationary heat and power sector, the DOE-QTR finds that the Department should increase emphasis on efficiency and understanding the grid. It states that the Department's role as a source of information and as a convener of interested parties, two functions that are often underestimated, are unique and indispensible in advancing energy technologies.
Finally, the DOE-QTR highlights the need for the Department to develop stronger, more integrated policy, economics, and technical analyses of its research and development activities.


"With nearly 90% of the energy system owned and operated by the private sector, the DOE-QTR recognizes that the Department is not the sole agent in transforming the system," said DOE Under Secretary Steven Koonin. "Through discussions with hundreds of energy stakeholders, we have learned that, beyond our technology development activities, the Department's unique role as a convener and source of accurate techno-economic information is a great public benefit."

The DOE-QTR binds together multiple energy technologies, as well as multiple DOE energy technology programs, in the common purpose of solving our energy challenges. The DOE-QTR provides a multi-year framework for program planning by looking at a broader longer-term view than the annual budget process; allowing the Department to provide the consistent and predictable support necessary to for the success of our research, development, and demonstration activities.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 19 Comments
      fairfireman21
      • 5 Months Ago
      With the 3 billion dollars are they going to make all EV's $20,000 until then there will be no way they can compete with the ICE.
      lne937s
      • 5 Months Ago
      Here is a plan for $3B: Take $1 Billion and buy 100,000 Level III quickchargers, making them as numerous as filling stations. Put them along US interstates, at military bases, at National Parks and Landmarks, at federal offices, post offices, etc. As most charging would be done at home, $1B could solve the long-range infrastructure questions. Take another $1B to replace 30,000 vehicles in the Federal fleet with EV's. Then take the last $1B to install solar panels at federal facilities, to help offset charger use.
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 5 Months Ago
        @lne937s
        hmm interesting thought. that puts the size of a billion dollars in perspective. better yet set up a company to develop an optimized level 3 charger that's super cheap and litter the world with them, even make money in the process and then it cost nothing. but nah I'm sure Steven Chu knows what he's doing. who needs projects that make a real difference
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 5 Months Ago
        @lne937s
        hmm interesting thought. that puts the size of a billion dollars in perspective. better yet set up a company to develop an optimized level 3 charger that's super cheap and litter the world with them, even make money in the process and then it cost nothing. but nah I'm sure Steven Chu knows what he's doing. who needs projects that make a real difference
      HVH20
      • 3 Years Ago
      Thank You.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 5 Months Ago
      pathetic as usual. the report does speak about weight reduction and improved aerodynamics but on page 40 it concludes that passenger cars are already so small and aerodynamic that aerodynamics can't be improved to any noteworthy degree. they figure trucks can be improved 10%... that's gross incompetence. it's a mystery what Steven Chu is spending his mental time on. certainly not reality. maybe he's just too busy with nuclear weapons and distant research projects to realize what can be done right now. so pathetic. unbelievable
        Spec
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        The DoE is considering market demand . . . most people don't want to drive something that looks like a rocket. Compared to the 50s to 70's, today's cars are more aerodynamic. Further aerodynamic refinements often push the vehicles into the unmarketable area. I liked the Aptera because I appreciate aerodynamics . . . but I'm rational enough to recognize that most people hated it.
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Spec
          does the EV1 look like a rocket? and in percent, how much is its aerodynamics better than say a Mini Cooper or Scion xB? 40%? 50%? the DOE is considering nothing. they are incompetent in the extreme
      brotherkenny4
      • 5 Months Ago
      I am glad to see that even in the face of criticism on the Solyndra issue the Secretary is still pushing for a more energy independent US. And just so I can raise the blood pressure of some folks, I'll add and "green technology". But seriously, EVs are the right thing to do on so many levels it's rediculous. But then I don't have personal economic benefit from discouraging them. Perhaps if my employer were a car company or an oil company or someone hired by them, I would be here on this blog talking about what a dumb idea electric vehicles are and saying the words "range axiety" and how lithium batteries explode and how much more these vehicles will cost. But then that would make me a worm.
        Spec
        • 5 Months Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        The sad thing about Solyndra is that too many idiots are drawing the (wrong) conclusion that Solyndra failed because solar is failing. The opposite is true. Solyndra failed because OTHER solar companies succeeded so well in reducing panel costs that Solyndra's system became an also-ran. Solyndra failing is evidence of the success of solar, not the failure of solar. I've been watching prices because I'm planning on putting up a system sometime in the future . . . and drop in prices has been SHOCKING. Several years ago, I built a 1.5KW system for around $21K in parts. A couple years ago, I planned on building a 3KW system (twice as big!) and the budget was around $17K. I recently looked into it again and I can find parts to build a 3KW system for around $11K! Holy smokes is the stuff cheap now! . . . .but those are just the parts. The big cost now is installation. But if you can DIY, you can have solar for dirt cheap.
        Ford Future
        • 5 Months Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        The Oil Industry should not be allowed to demand that ONLY THEY get jobs, that Only Their Solution gets funding. Especially because, they ship their IT jobs overseas, though outsourcing. If they showed one oz of Leadership into the Solar, Wind and Geothermal market's they'd start a Jobs Boom in this country.
          Ford Future
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Ford Future
          Last I heard they also outsource their gulf jobs to Mexican Crews, so it's a bit strange for the Oil Industry to claim that they create jobs.
          lne937s
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Ford Future
          Beyond that, the US government should only allow US-registered rigs to drill oil owned by the US taxpayers in US waters. If not US-registered, then paying taxes like a US-registered rig. The Deepwater Horizon was registered in the Marshal Islands to get around taxes, even though Transocean is a US-based company using a US-based crew drilling US oil in US waters. If you want access to resources owned by US taxpayers, you should have to be paying US taxes on them.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      on page 46 there is an overview of current vehicle types. under pure battery electric car they list the pack size range from 35-55kWh never mind that the iMiev is 16kWh and the Leaf is 24. and these people are in charge..
        Letstakeawalk
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Can you imagine? They say things like this, too! "High-cost (currently about $650/kilowatt-hour [kWh] of usable energy122) and low-energy density are the primary drawbacks of today’s lithium-ion batteries; significant advances in energy density, performance, and cost are required for the cost-effective deployment of EVs. Those technical barriers contribute to the primary market barriers for EVs: vehicle cost and range anxiety (the latter only for AEVs). Further, there are physical limits to the storage capacity that can be used; the required, but unusable, capacity dictates a heavier and more costly battery." Those are the same talking points we continually hear hurled against BEVs by the anti-BEV crowd! They've even used GM's trademarked "range-anxiety" comment... hmmm.... (LOL)
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          incredible. I feel like crying. somebody hold me : ) I cannot process how it's possible for them to be that unintelligent. he must exist in a vacuum and they keep him busy with a lot of bureaucracy. only way I can make sense of it. other than a massive conspiracy. you'd think that in his 3 years in office that at some point he's be exposed to actual battery cost. either DIYers buying thundersky or the nissan leaf pack cost of 9k or Martin Eberhard saying 255$/kWh or years before when they said they pay around 360$/kWh for the Tesla batteries. and that's if as energy secretary he didn't pick up the phone and asked LGchem or Panasonic or A123 what their batteries cost.. God you can't do this to me. this isn't right
        Naturenut99
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        My understanding re: pack size is that we want longer range, and cheaper BEV's. That would lead to bigger kwh packs? Correct? Of course improving bigger packs automatically improve smaller. Same as major advances in car tech usually comes from luxury cars and then drop in price and enter cheaper vehicles.
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      $3,000,000,000 sounds like a lot but it really is practically nothing when we're talking about "modernizing the electrical grid." Thats gonna take trillions, not billions.
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