The economic crisis and lagging recovery has brought acute focus to the question of how to pragmatically reduce dependence on foreign oil, whether through the use of clean energy solutions, increased domestic supply, or a combination of both.
Population growth, energy consumption and global warming will not abate, although their effects may be dampened in the short term. OPEC will continue to manipulate supply as long as they have pricing power. The combination of political unrest in oil producing regions and energy speculation in the market will further contribute to increases in oil price volatility.
Energy policy faces continuing challenges with a new, high hurdle of economic viability that must be addressed in every case. Energy solutions must be not only ecologically clean, they must be economically productive, and that sooner than later.
Climate Change legislation is a non-starter in the Republican House, yet there is a recognition that energy legislation is still needed to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and strengthen our economy. Energy efficiency, renewable energy, and increased domestic supply will all play a role in our energy future. Given recent investments in renewable energy, advanced batteries, and smart grid infrastructure, we remain poised for a technological leap in the way we look at power, as well as how the U.S. powers its economy.
Although the Congress has agreed to a ban on earmarks, funding for the Department of Energy remains robust. Projects that were formerly Congressional earmarks now have to compete for funding within the Department’s grant programs. Concise project applications that clearly demonstrate the relevance of the project to the Department’s goals, technical feasibility, and a leveraging of the federal investment secure needed funding.