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Directory:How Well is U.S. Department of Energy Fulfilling Its Mandate to Facilitate Clean Energy?

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Page first featured February 21, 2009

Begun officially on August 4, 1977 during the Carter administration, now with 16,000 employees, 100,000 contract employees and an annual budget of over $24 billion, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was created to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil; develop energy efficient technologies; strengthen America's energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality; and ...bring clean, reliable and affordable energy technologies to the marketplace.

Three decades later, how has this well-funded federal department done? What's your take? Has it become a matter of the foxes guarding the henhouse?

See our poll at the bottom of every page of this PESWiki site to lodge your vote. ("NEC" refers to our New Energy Congress.) So far, the majority of responses have rated the DOE's performance at "abysmal" or worse. A related poll, worded differently (doesn't mention DOE) to a more mainstream audience, shows most people having low confidence that we'll reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Contents

Overviews

"The Department of Energy is committed to reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil and developing energy efficient technologies for buildings, homes, transportation, power systems and industry. The mission of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is to strengthen America's energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality in public-private partnerships that: enhance energy efficiency and productivity; bring clean, reliable and affordable energy technologies to the marketplace; and make a difference in the everyday lives of Americans by enhancing their energy choices and their quality of life.
EERE leads the Federal government’s research, development, and deployment efforts in energy efficiency. EERE's role is to invest in high-risk, high-value research and development that is critical to the Nation's energy future and would not be sufficiently conducted by the private sector acting on its own.
Program activities are conducted in partnership with the private sector, state and local government, DOE national laboratories, and universities. EERE also works with stakeholders to develop programs and policies to facilitate the deployment of advanced clean energy technologies and practices." (DOE Energy Efficiency)

"The Department of Energy's overarching mission is to advance the national, economic, and energy security of the United States; to promote scientific and technological innovation in support of that mission; and to ensure the environmental cleanup of the national nuclear weapons complex. The Department's strategic goals to achieve the mission are designed to deliver results along five strategic themes:

  1. Energy Security: Promoting America’s energy security through reliable, clean, and affordable energy
  2. Nuclear Security: Ensuring America’s nuclear security
  3. Scientific Discovery and Innovation: Strengthening U.S. scientific discovery, economic competitiveness, and improving quality of life through innovations in science and technology
  4. Environmental Responsibility: Protecting the environment by providing a responsible resolution to the environmental legacy of nuclear weapons production
  5. Management Excellence: Enabling the mission through sound management" (DOE Strategic Plan)

Report Cards

How well do you evaluate yourself, especially when money is involved? Should there not be an independent evaluation, instead of internal pats on the back?

  • Office of Science Performance Appraisal Process - "In Fiscal Year 2006, the Office of Science (SC) instituted a new process for evaluating the scientific, technological, management, and operational performance of the contractors who run its ten national laboratories."
  • Ames Laboratory - "The U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory received high marks in Science and Technology Project/Program Management in 2008 as part of the DOE Office of Science’s laboratory appraisal process."

Research and Development

  1. Biomass
  2. Building Technologies
  3. Federal Energy Management
  4. Geothermal Technologies
  5. Fuel Cells & Infrastructure Technologies
  6. Industrial Technologies
  7. Solar Energy technologies
  8. Vehicle and Fuels Technologies
  9. Weatherization and Intergovernmental
  10. Wind and Hydropower Technologies
Program Accomplishments in Energy Efficiency
Program Accomplishments in Renewable Energy


Apparently, Nuclear is not considered to be a "Clean Energy" Technology. It is listed under "Energy Sources", however. The Dept of Defense wants total control of Nuclear Energy. The 3 labs affected - Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, both located in New Mexico, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. These are curiously not listed as part of the 10 labs above in the Report Card section.

"The cost of maintaining these weapons is high for both DoD and DOE. In the case of DOE, an extensive infrastructure of laboratories and plants is required for the Stockpile Stewardship program, including a new manufacturing capability for plutonium pits." Nuclear Weapons in the Twenty-First Century
"DOE’s Nuclear Energy (NE) program promotes secure, competitive and environmentally responsible nuclear technologies to serve the present and future energy needs of the United States and the world. With the significant energy and environmental challenges facing the nation in this new century, the benefits of clean and safe nuclear energy are increasingly apparent.
A key mission of DOE’s nuclear energy research and development program is to strengthen that basic technology and, through some of the most advanced civilian technology research being conducted today, chart the way toward introduction of the next generation of nuclear power plants.
The Office of Nuclear Energy also has responsibilities for space and defense nuclear power systems, advanced nuclear research and development, isotope production and distribution, nuclear facilities management, and nuclear fuel security.
Additionally, the Energy Information Administration has statistical information related to the production and consumption of nuclear energy." Nuclear Power

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