USA: Trump budget requests nearly US$1B for fossil energy research

US president Donald Trump has asked for nearly US$1 billion in the 2021 budget to fund the federal Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy, with the bulk of funds earmarked for developing clean coal technologies and early stage research and development initiatives to revitalise the domestic coal industry.

Yet to be ratified by Congress, Trump’s budget request seeks $930.7 million.

Of the total, $730.6 million will be set aside for the Fossil Energy Research and Development Programme, which includes R&D programmes in advanced coal energy systems and carbon capture, utilisation, and storage; natural gas technologies; and unconventional fossil energy technologies from petroleum-oil technologies; as well as funding for the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).

A further $200.1 million will fund the Office of Petroleum Reserves, which includes the strategic petroleum reserve and the related strategic petroleum account; the naval petroleum and oil shale reserves; the northeast home heating oil reserve; and the energy security and infrastructure modernisation fund.

The budget request focuses on early-stage R&D and reflects an increased reliance on the private sector to fund later-stage research, development and commercialisation of energy technologies. Under the budget request, the NETL would receive $117.5 million for NETL research and operations, infrastructure, and programme direction and a further $34.9 million for headquarters programme direction and special recruitment to continue supporting the laboratory’s capabilities and competitiveness.

The budget also supports extracting critical minerals from coal and coal by-products as “one of many” non-thermal, non-power uses of coal.

According to the DOE, research into advanced coal processing and manufacturing of coal-based materials and products would help to develop new markets for coal, “ensuring that the world’s largest coal reserves” would be put to good use in next-generation coal-based products and technologies.

Meanwhile, robust investments in carbon capture, utilisation, storage, and power generation efficiency would seek to ensure the existing coal-fired power generation fleet is greener and more efficient than before.