ARPA-E: Cleantech Effort with Bipartisan Support

Why, given the negative publicity around government funding for cleantech projects, has ARPA-e been able to win bipartisan support?

Green_Keyboard_ButtonAmid all the negative publicity that Solyndra’s failure has brought to the Administration’s cleantech efforts, one cleantech program has received broad bipartisan support: DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-e). In 2012, ARPA-e will receive $275 million, a 53 percent increase from the prior year with both the House and the Senate supporting significant funding for the agency’s third year of operations.

Authorized in the last year of the Bush Administration and initially funded through the Obama Administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the ARPA-e program may be one government program that can help seed the disruptive advances needed in our energy economy.

Why, given the negative publicity around government funding for cleantech projects, has ARPA-e been able to win bipartisan support?

Focus on early stage R&D
Most members of Congress believe (as do I) that the government has a role in funding early-stage research and innovation in areas of public interest where the private sector is unable to economically justify conducting such R&D given the high degree of risk.

Grants (of reasonable size) not investments (of enormous size)
The bulk of the Administration’s cleantech investments were funded through the ARRA including the initial funding for ARPA-e.

Energy Independence & Global Warming
ARPA-e’s guiding legislative mandate is to enhance the economic and energy security of the United States through the development of technologies that reduce energy imports, reduce energy-related emissions including greenhouse gases, and improve energy efficiency in all economic sectors.

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Source: David Gold | Renewable Energy World.com