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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Renewable Energy R&D Funding History: A Comparison with Funding for Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy, and Energy Efficiency R&D

Fred Sissine
Specialist in Energy Policy

Energy research and development (R&D) intended to advance technology played an important
role in the successful outcome of World War II. In the post-war era, the federal government
conducted R&D on fossil fuel and nuclear energy sources to support peacetime economic growth.
The energy crises of the 1970s spurred the government to broaden the focus to include renewable
energy and energy efficiency. Over the 33-year period from the Department of Energy’s inception
at the beginning of fiscal Year (FY) 1978 through FY2010, federal spending for renewable energy
R&D amounted to about 16% of the energy R&D total, compared with 14% for energy efficiency,
26% for fossil, and 37% for nuclear. For the 63-year period from 1948 through 2010, nearly 12%
went to renewables, compared with 9% for efficiency, 25% for fossil, and 50% for nuclear.

Date of Report: January 26, 2011
Number of Pages: 9
Order Number: RS22858
Price: $19.95

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