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DOE releases five-year strategic plan, 2014-2018; supporting “all of the above” energy strategy

The US Department of Energy (DOE) released its five-year 2014-2018 Strategic Plan. The plan is organized into 12 strategic objectives aimed at three distinct goals: Science and Energy; Nuclear Security; and Management and Performance. These objectives represent broad cross-cutting and collaborative efforts across DOE headquarters, site offices, and national laboratories.

The overarching goal for Science and Energy is: “Advance foundational science, innovate energy technologies, and inform data driven policies that enhance US economic growth and job creation, energy security, and environmental quality, with emphasis on implementation of the President’s Climate Action Plan to mitigate the risks of and enhance resilience against climate change.” Under that, the plan sketches out 3 strategic goals:

Strategic Objective One: Advance the goals and objectives in the President’s Climate Action Plan by supporting prudent development, deployment, and efficient use of “all of the above” energy resources that also create new jobs and industries.

To achieve this first objective, DOE intends to pursue parallel strategies:

  • Advance options for diverse energy resources and conversion devices for power. The President’s Climate Action Plan contains a goal of doubling renewable energy generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources between 2012 and 2020. DOE will continue to focus on significantly increasing the amount of cost-competitive electric power from renewable resources across the nation by further accelerating the development and commercialization of these technologies.

    It intends to do so by reducing technology costs and risks, as well as by reducing costs in siting and permitting, installation, inspection, maintenance, and customer acquisition for distributed and utility-scale generation projects, as well as improving performance and manufacturing processes.

    DOE will also advance research and development for sustainable hydropower technologies, as well as technologies that harness energy from wave and tidal resources.

    DOE will continue to pursue carbon capture and storage technologies as well as nuclear power.

  • Leverage increased private sector financing for deployment of “all of the above” energy technologies. DOE will use federal loan and loan guarantee authorities to strategically support a range of clean energy and advanced vehicle technologies. DOE also will work with other agencies in addition to state and local governments to use existing authorities to remove barriers to increased financing for clean energy deployment.

  • Accelerate development and deployment of new transportation system technologies to diversify fuel sources, increase efficiency and reduce emissions. DOE will partner with industry to discover and promote advanced sustainable transportation technologies. These include technologies to improve conventional vehicles with the use of advanced lightweight materials; improvements in aerodynamics; and engines and powertrain technologies that improve vehicle efficiency for both light-duty vehicles and heavy trucks. To provide more diverse vehicle and fuel options, DOE will continue to develop advanced batteries and fuel cells, encourage vehicle electrification, and work with partners to address barriers to widespread adoption of all-electric-drive vehicles.

    DOE will develop alternative fuels, including advanced biofuels, made from sustainable resources that can directly substitute for petroleum and use existing infrastructure.

  • Support environmentally responsible development, delivery and use of DOE will sponsor activities to encourage safe and environmentally responsible development and use of domestic petroleum and natural gas resources. DOE will conduct research and development, data collection, modeling analysis and information dissemination programs to promote environmentally responsible development of unconventional domestic petroleum and natural gas resources.

    With the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and contributors to the Interagency Methane Strategy, DOE will seek to improve the database on methane leakage from natural gas production, delivery and use, and encourage greater sharing of best practices for unconventional oil and gas production.

    It will also work to reduce the risk and enhance the performance of subsurface energy systems, including geothermal energy. DOE will continue to advance state of the art methods for predicting, controlling and monitoring the flow of injected fluids, including captured CO2 with particular attention to minimizing or eliminating impacts on water resources.

  • Contribute to international efforts to address global climate change. DOE says it continue to play a major role in supporting the Administration’s international efforts to achieve significant global greenhouse gas emission reductions, enhance climate preparedness, and promote global deployment of clean energy technologies.

Among the performance goals set for this area of the plan are:

  • Provide cost-shared licensing technical support to selected private sector partners in support of their efforts to complete and submit a design certification application for at least one small modular nuclear reactor.

  • Operate three fully integrated CCS demonstrations and six large scale CO2 storage injections by the end of FY 2015.

  • By the end of FY 2015, achieve best in class solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at $1.85/watt utility, $2.37/watt commercial, and $3.10/watt residential scale.

  • Launch geothermal “Play Fairway” analysis effort in FY 2014 and demonstrate the ability to develop a 5-megawatt greenfield Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) reservoir by 2020.

  • By the end of FY 2016, publish a report that includes the number of DOE/FE projects, including results on any completed projects, that addresses each of the DOE-led research topics contained in the Multi-Agency Strategy related to understanding unconventional oil and gas resources.

  • Demonstrate three grid-connected advanced offshore wind concepts by 2017. 

  • Demonstrate the integration of 50% variable distributed energy resources on distribution feeders with electric vehicles and building energy management systems by 2020 with high reliability and resiliency.

  • By FY 2015, up to three commercial scale cellulosic ethanol biorefineries are operational with validation that their outputs are projected to yield a mature technology price that is competitive with gasoline and that there is a greater than 60% lifecycle greenhouse gas reduction relative to gasoline.

  • Reduce the cost of transportation fuel cells by more than 25% to meet the 2020 target of $40/kilowatt and durability of 5,000 hours and efficiency of 60%.

  • Reduce the cost of plug-in vehicle battery technology to $300/kWh by 2015 and $125/kWh by 2022.

Strategic Objective Two: Support a more economically competitive, environmentally responsible, secure and resilient US energy infrastructure.

DOE will seek pathways that expand the use of dispatchable renewable energy including hydropower, energy storage, and demand response capabilities. While advanced intelligent devices and communications networks improve the visibility, response, and control of energy systems, they also can increase the exposure to cyber attacks.

DOE will focus on addressing and helping to manage the increased vulnerability of the nation’s energy infrastructures due to climate change, cyber vulnerabilities, physical vulnerabilities, and infrastructure interdependencies.

DOE will facilitate the market-readiness of DOE-supported technologies and address non-technical barriers that will enable the marketplace to better understand the cost-saving and environmental benefits of these energy solutions, including engaging the future clean energy workforce. DOE will employ six strategies to achieve these goals.

  • Support the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER);

  • Develop technologies to modernize the electric grid to improve resiliency, flexibility, and better integrate “all of the above” generation resources;

  • Strengthen the effectiveness of Department of Energy incident management capabilities;

  • Manage the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and be prepared to respond to petroleum market supply disruption;

  • Improve cybersecurity in the energy sector through effective government-industry collaboration; and

  • Work with states, localities and other stakeholders to develop climate change prevention/adaptation resilience strategies.

Strategic Objective 3: Deliver the scientific discoveries and major scientific tools that transform our understanding of nature and strengthen the connection between advances in fundamental science and technology innovation.

DOE has outlined three strategies to achieve this objective:

1. Conduct discovery-focused research to increase the understanding of matter, materials and their properties through partnerships with universities, national laboratories, and industry. Areas of concentration here include:

  • Advanced scientific computing to analyze, model, simulate, and predict complex phenomena, including the scientific potential that exascale simulation and data will provide in the future.

  • Materials and chemical sciences to understand, predict, and control matter and energy to provide the foundation for new energy technologies and mitigate the environmental impacts of energy use.

  • Biological and environmental sciences focused on exploring genome enabled biology, discovering the drivers and impacts of climate change, and seeking the determinants of environmental stewardship.

  • Plasma science to expand the understanding of matter at very high temperatures and densities and to build the scientific foundation needed to develop a fusion energy source.

  • High energy physics to illuminate and answer questions about the unification of the forces of nature, the nature and origin of dark energy and dark matter, and the origins of the universe.

  • Nuclear physics to create, detect, and describe the different forms and complexities of nuclear matter that can exist in the universe, including those that are no longer found naturally.

2. Provide the nation’s researchers with world-class scientific user facilities that enable mission-focused research and advance scientific discovery.

3. Use the national laboratory system and leverage partnerships with universities and industry to conduct mission-focused research.



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