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Obama and Bill Gates tout plans to double clean energy research spending

Lucas Mearian | Dec. 1, 2015
The U.S. will increase its R&D spending from US$5 billion to US$10 billion.

"They stretch across five continents. And when you add all partner countries together, they represent 75% of the world's CO2 emissions from electricity, and more than 80% of the world's clean energy R&D investment," the White House said in a  statement.

The 20 participating nations in Mission Innovation will provide about $20 billion in the next five years. The U.S., which spends about $5 billion now on clean energy research, would provide $10 billion between now and 2020, according to the pact.

The U.S. government spending will include programs at 11 agencies with the largest investment at the Department of Energy (DOE). Those programs will focus on low carbon technologies, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear energy, electric grid technologies, carbon capture and storage and advanced transportation systems and fuels.

At the DOE, the programs are implemented through a number of mechanisms including cost-shared projects with the private sector, research and development activities at the National Laboratories, grants to universities, and support for collaborative research centers aimed at key energy technology frontiers. Obama said he will also use "suites of policy tools" including regulatory, spending, credit support and tax incentives to support clean energy technology.

Helping the adoption of clean energy has been a dramatic drop in prices for technology, such as photovoltaic modules -- the units that collect energy from sunlight and convert it into electricity.

From 2008 to 2014, solar photovoltaic module prices declined by 80%, LED prices declined nearly 90%, and wind and battery prices declined by more than 40%, according to a statement. The U.S. today generates three times as much wind energy and 20 times as much solar power as it did in 2008.

"This also means that thousands of private sector renewable energy projects are now employing tens of thousands of Americans; last year, for example, the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy," the White House said.


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