May 23, 2012
2012 Budget Increases Nuclear Energy Research Funding
Before adjourning to watch yule logs and eat holiday hams, Congress actually managed to pass a 2012 budget bill. ITIF's Matthew Stepp provided us with an early analysis of the bill's impact on energy innovation funding. Funding for key Department of Energy (DOE) innovation offices are up by a modest 2.5 percent relative to the 2011 budget, with impacts on specific programs summarized in the table below...
Today, nuclear energy blogger Dan Yurman dives into one of those key offices, with a detailed breakdown of the 2012 budget's funding for DOE's nuclear energy program at ANS Nuclear Cafe.
The Fiscal Year 2012 budget dedicates $768 million to the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy, a nearly 6 percent increase from FY2011 levels. As with overall funding for DOE innovation offices, the 2012 budget thus halts and begins to reverse the declines in federal energy innovation funding initiated in the 2011 budget, which saw nuclear energy funding fall 15 percent (or $132 million) from 2010 budget appropriations.
Dan Yurman breaks down this year's funding, which places an emphasis on accelerating the development and commercialization of new small modular reactor designs (SMRs):
Supporters of fast reactor SMR designs had hoped for appropriation language that would have advanced their cause, but it didn't appear in the committee report related to licensing activities.
Within a line item of $136 million for reactor concepts, $29 million is provided for advanced R&D on SMR concepts that presumably would include some fast reactor work scope.
A big ticket item is $64 million for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) program, which is $14 million above the DOE's request. The committee called for strong engagement with industry in development of the NGNP demonstration phase.
Congress also told the DOE to stick to the knitting and finish the job on the NGNP. The committee report complained that the DOE engages in a "constant shifting of priorities that starts many initiatives and finishes none."
DOE Nuclear Energy Assistant Secretary Pete Lyons declined, through a spokesperson, to be interviewed or to comment on the funding numbers or the SMR projects.
Fuel Cycle Research received $132 million, with significant cuts from the 2011 funding level and the 2012 request.
Facilities management at the Idaho National Laboratory received $155 million, $5 million above the request. Separately, $14.6 million is allocated to the National Science User Facility at the Idaho National Laboratory, the same amount as the request.
This graphic, from Matthew Stepp, illustrates the year-on-year trends in key nuclear programs:
For more, see:
- "Nuclear energy R&D budgets spared major cuts," by Dan Yurman, ANS Nuclear Cafe
- "2012 Federal Budget Halts Further Cuts to Energy Innovation," by Matthew Stepp, ITIF Innovation Policy Blog