Climate Bill’s Clean Energy R&D Investments May Be 30 Times Smaller than President Obama’s Budget

Compared to President Obama’s promises and the recommendations of a variety of energy experts alike, the ACES climate and clean energy bill’s investments in clean energy are an order of magnitude too small.

[Updated 5/22/09: the ACES bill now includes a $10/ton price floor for auctioned pollution permits. The analysis below has been updated to reflect that change in the legislation]

Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee began markup of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES). The bill promises to cap and reduce carbon pollution, create clean energy jobs, and spur technology innovation. Unfortunately, as our analysis of the use of carbon pollution allowances in the ACES bill revealed, the bill is on course to invest very little of the hundreds of billions of dollars in value created by the bill’s cap-and-trade program over the coming years towards those objectives.

Most of the allowance value (74 percent) created by the ACES cap and trade program is dedicated to blunting the impact of the carbon price established by the program on industries and consumers (and securing the critical swing votes on the committee representing these entrenched energy and industry interests). In contrast, just 12 percent of the allowance value is dedicated to clean energy investments, broadly defined.

At an average allowance price of $10 to $15 dollars per ton of CO2 between 2012-2025, that would amount to clean energy investments of just $6-9 billion per year, and just $490-745 million for clean energy R&D (see our full analysis of the allowance allocations in ACES for more).

President Obama has repeatedly promised to, “Invest $150 billion over ten years in energy research and development to transition to a clean energy economy” (from WhiteHouse.gov). The President’s 2010 Budget Outline specifically dedicated $15 billion per year in new revenue generated by a cap and trade program to this purpose. Yet the bill before us, depending on the allowance value it establishes, would invest just one-twentieth to one-thirtieth of the $15 billion President Obama has pledged — and specifically requested from Congress. Furthermore, this new energy R&D spending may amount to just a ten percent increase in current federal energy R&D budgets.

Likewise, the total investments in a new clean energy economy, more broadly defined, are an order of magnitude smaller than proposals advanced by the Breakthrough Institute, Apollo Alliance and others have deemed necessary to drive clean energy innovation, create millions of new energy jobs, and jump-start a prosperous, clean energy economy.

Below the fold, you can see how the clean energy investments made by the ACES bill compare with what a range of proposals and current R&D funding levels…

The first graph focuses on clean energy R&D only. The second looks at clean energy investments more broadly, including investments to demonstrate, commercialize and deploy clean energy technologies, build critical infrastructure, and even spur energy efficiency improvements. In including investments in carbon capture and storage technology in these totals, I am no doubt being more generous with the term “clean energy” than many of my green colleagues would be, but I include this investment here, just as the ACES bill’s authors and champions do. In short, the second graph represents “clean energy investments,” broadly defined.

So, do you think ACES clean energy investments pass the grade?

(Click any of these to enlarge…)
ACES_R&D.jpg

ACES_CleanTech.jpg

ACES_R&D_Table.jpg

ACES_CleanTech_Table.jpg
Sources and Notes:
[1] See “First Analysis of Waxman-Markey Cap & Trade Allocation,” Breakthrough Institute (May 15, 2009).
[2] See “Investing in the Next Generation of Energy Technologies,” WhiteHouse.gov. President Obama pledges to “Invest $150 billion over ten years in energy research and development to transition to a clean energy economy.”
[3] Forthcoming, May 2009.
[4] See “Top Energy Scientists Call for $30 Bi Annual Investment in Clean Energy,” Breakthrough Institute (December 3, 2007). Call for $30 billion in clean energy technology investments
[5] See Energy Discovery-Innovation Institutes: A Step toward America’s Energy Sustainability. Brookings Institution (February 9, 2009).
[6] See “Budget and Performance,” U.S. Department of Energy.
[7] See “Detailed Summary of Energy Investments in Stimulus,” Breakthrough Institute (February 13, 2009).
[8] See “R&D in the FY2009 Budget,” American Association for the Advancement of Science (March 23, 2009).
[9] See “New Apollo Program,” Apollo Alliance (March 20, 2009).
[10] See “Fast, Clean, & Cheap: Cutting Global Warming’s Gordian Knot,” Harvard Law and Policy Review. Breakthrough Institute (January 2008).

Originally posted at the Breakthrough Institute


About Jesse


Jesse Jenkins is an energy and climate policy analyst, advocate, and blogger. Jesse is the Director of Energy and Climate Policy at the Breakthrough Institute in Oakland, California, where he works to develop and advance new energy solutions to power America's future, secure our energy freedom, and halt global warming. He joined Breakthrough in June 2008 and previously directed the Breakthrough Generation fellowship program for young clean energy leaders. Jesse worked previously as a Research and Policy Associate at the Renewable Northwest Project in Portland, OR, helping to advance the development of the Pacific Northwest's abundant renewable energy potential. A prolific author and blogger on clean energy issues, Jesse is the founder and chief editor of WattHead - Energy News and Commentary, a featured writer and advisory board member at the Energy Collective, and a frequent contributor at Forbes.com, Huffington Post, and Grist.org.

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