The Strategic Plan released on May 10 by the U.S. Department of Energy combines a mix of aggressive short-term targets for the deployment of renewable energy and installation of energy efficiency measures and longer-term goals to drive innovation. 

Key near-term objectives contained in the plan include doubling renewable energy generation in the United States by next year and boosting energy efficiency through retrofits of 1 million American homes by the end of FY 2013.  The plan also calls for putting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015; bringing on line at least five commercial-scale carbon capture-and-sequestration projects by 2016; and promoting smart grid and large-scale energy storage technologies “to facilitate the transition to a cleaner energy sector” and make the electrical grid more efficient, reliable and secure.  Long-term objectives include obtaining 80% of our electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 and reducing energy-related greenhouse gas emissions by 83% by 2050, from a 2005 baseline. 

The strategic plan also outlined plans for DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) to “catalyze by FY 2012 the development of transformative and potentially disruptive energy technologies; drive the transition of high-impact energy innovations toward market adaptation; [and] contribute to the advancement of U.S. leadership and global competitiveness in energy innovation.”  

Required under Section 3 of theGovernment Performance and Results Act of 1993, this is DOE’s first strategic plan since 2006.  In announcing the plan, Energy Secretary Steven Chu argued that achieving the plan’s objectives “will catalyze the transformation of the nation’s energy system, build a sustainable and competitive clean energy economy, increase nuclear security worldwide, and maintain U.S. global leadership in science and engineering.” 

The strategic plan is structured around the following four categories:

  • Catalyzing the timely, material, and efficient transformation of the nation’s energy system and securing U.S. leadership in clean energy technologies
  • Maintaining a vibrant U.S. effort in science and engineering as a cornerstone of our economic prosperity with clear leadership in strategic areas
  • Enhancing nuclear security through defense, nonproliferation, and environmental efforts
  • Establishing an operational and adaptable framework that combines the best wisdom of all Department stakeholders to maximize mission success

The strategic plan also reflects Secretary Chu’s oft-repeated goal (and history) of encouraging partnerships between the national laboratories, government, research universities and the private sector.