Dr. Ernest Moniz, the MIT physics professor who is set to be the new Energy Secretary, has just recently held a confirmation hearing where he spoke about his ideas and answered questions of how he might direct the Department of Energy.
A Brookings Institution scholar once suggested that “it will be a very different agency than it was in the first term. Ernie knows climate change, but also unconventional oil and gas and coal and nuclear. He will push the president towards a more balanced policy.” Yet based upon what Dr. Moniz actually said himself, it is more likely that clean energy innovation will remain the top priority.
Moniz’s opening statement was a clear indication of his interest in increased spending in energy R&D. “More than a hundred Nobel Prizes have resulted from DOE-associated research. DOE operates an unparalleled national laboratory system and partners with both universities and industry at the research frontier…DOE should continue to support a robust R&D portfolio of low-carbon options: efficiency, renewables, nuclear, carbon capture and sequestration, energy storage.”
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When asked by Senator Al Franken as to how much funding Dr. Moniz wanted to give to energy research, he replied that currently the DoE is underinvesting by a factor of three. The current amount spent on energy R&D is $5 billion a year, according to the Energy Innovation Tracker, so Moniz’s suggestion of a 200% increase would grant $15 billion to energy R&D, the same amount suggested by many innovation experts.
The idea of cutting back on energy innovation funding may seem like a sensible idea whilst the economy remains frail, but Moniz believes that the shale revolution is proof that returns on investment in the energy sector can be huge, and are well worth spending that bit extra.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com