Lampson Leads Subcommittee Look at Renewable Energy Legislation
(Washington, DC) – Harnessing the power of geothermal and ocean energy was the topic of discussion during a hearing of the Science & Technology Committee’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee.
Chairman Nick Lampson (D-TX) led discussion on two pieces of legislation before the Committee that address research development, demonstration, and commercial application (RDD&CA) of technologies to tap the two renewable energy resources: H.R. 2304, the Advanced Geothermal Energy Research and Development Act of 2007 and H.R. 2313, the Marine Renewable Energy Research and Development Act of 2007.
“These bills are about addressing overlooked opportunities in our collective efforts to create good American jobs, diversify our energy supply, increase our security, and reduce the environmental impact of energy production,” Lampson said.
H.R. 2304, introduced by Committee Member Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA), would direct the Secretary of Energy to support research, development and commercial application of advanced technologies to help locate undiscovered geothermal resources and increase energy production. Experts indicate the geothermal energy potential in the U.S. is vast, but largely untapped.
“As a nation, it is imperative that we work towards energy independence. Geothermal energy should be an important component of our efforts because geothermal energy is an incredibly promising renewable energy source – it’s clean, constantly available and 100% domestic,” McNerney said. “This bill authorizes funding for the research and development of cutting edge geothermal energy technologies for the 21st century, which will both address global climate change and lead to the creation of a new energy technology economy.”
Specifically, H.R. 2304:
Authorizes $80 million a year, from fiscal years 2008 through 2012;
Establishes an “industry-coupled exploratory drilling” program, which is a cost-shared program with industry partners to demonstrate and apply advanced exploration technologies;
Provides for the creation of two centers of technology transfer as information clearinghouses for the geothermal industry.
Geothermal energy is heat from the Earth’s core trapped in the Earth’s crust. In locations where high temperatures meet underground fluid-filled reservoirs, the hot water or steam produced can be used to generate clean, emission-free electricity or to directly heat buildings or greenhouses.
H.R. 2304 also addresses R&D for Enhanced Geothermal Systems, in which no naturally-occurring fluid source or reservoir is available, thus a reservoir must be created to extract hot water or steam.
The Committee also looked at a bill authored by Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-OR) – H.R. 2313, which directs the Department of Energy to support RDD&CA of technologies to produce electric power from renewable marine resources, such as waves, tidal flows or ocean currents.
“Many countries are already a step ahead of the U.S. in embracing the potential of marine renewable energy,” said Hooley. “If U.S. industry and universities like Oregon State can achieve the remarkable gains they’ve made over the last several years, imagine what could be accomplished if Congress makes a serious investment in the future. The research, technology, ingenuity and energy are there to bring America’s marine energy potential to the next level quickly if we act now.”
Moving water contains a much higher energy concentration, or density, than other renewable sources, such as wind or solar. H.R. 2313 is designed to pave the way for research in technologies that will effectively harness the energy contained in ocean movements or thermal gradients to use in generating electric power.
The measure authorizes $50 million for each fiscal year 2008 through 2012, and also establishes research and demonstration centers where new technologies may be tested in connection with the power grid.
“We owe it to ourselves and the nation to do all we can to tap the vast potential of these resources, foster competitive new American industries, and ensure that the technologies developed are compatible with the highest standards of environmental stewardship,” Lampson said.