DOE to Guarantee $10 Billion in Loans for Efficiency, Renewables

DOE to Guarantee $10 Billion in Loans for Efficiency, Renewables

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is offering $10 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

The guarantees are part of a $30.5 billion package announced June 30, marking the second round of solicitations for the DOE's Loan Guarantee Program. The package includes $18.5 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear power projects and $2 billion for advanced nuclear power projects focusing on the "front-end" of the nuclear fuel cycle.

In the area of renewables and energy efficiency, the DOE seeks projects relating to biomass, geothermal, solar and wind energy, as well as projects involving hydropower or alternative fuel vehicles. The solicitation also seeks projects that embrace energy efficient building technologies and efficient electricity transmission, distribution, and storage. In addition, the DOE said it will issue loan guarantees for stand-alone projects and those that involve manufacturing technologies and the large-scale integration of renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage technologies into the electrical grid.

Later this summer, the DOE will solicit loan guarantee applications for as much as $8 billion for advanced fossil energy projects, the agency said.

The DOE's loan guarantees will "enable project developers to bridge the financing gap between pilot and demonstration projects to full commercially viable projects that employ new or significantly improved energy technologies," said Acting Deputy Secretary of Energy Jeffrey F. Kupfer.

"Projects supported by loan guarantees will help meet President Bush's goal of diversifying our nation's energy mix with energy projects that will improve the environment while increasing energy efficiency," Kupfer said in a statement.

News hailing the DOE's latest loan guarantee program solicitations came just days before the release of an NGO-study that said the U.S. has done the least among the world's eight largest economies to address global warming.

The study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) also found that none of the eight countries are making improvements that are significant enough to prevent temperature increases that would cause catastrophic climate changes.

The WWF released its G8 Climate Scorecards 2008 on Thursday in advance of the Group of Eight (G8) summit meeting this week in Hokkaido, Japan.

The report ranks the G8 countries – the U.S., the U.K., Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Russia – on quantitative indicators such as emissions trends since 1990 and progress toward each country's emissions target under the Kyoto Protocol. The report also evaluates performance in three policy areas: energy efficiency, renewable energy and development of carbon markets. It also examines the climate and energy policies of five emerging economies: China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

The U.S. ranked just below Canada and Russia, while the U.K. topped the list with France and Germany in second and third place, respectively. Ecofys, an independent consulting firm, prepared the report and was commissioned by WWF and Allianz SE, an international financial services provider.

In statement announcing release of the report, the WWF acknowledged that while the U.S. lags behind many of its allies in reducing emissions, it has made notable advances. Last year, President Bush signed into law legislation that will require vehicles sold in the U.S. to be more fuel efficient and issued an executive order directing federal agencies to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities, the WWF noted. It added that Congress has created new programs to promote the development of low carbon energy options and has begun a serious debate on climate change legislation while the leading presidential candidates, Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), both support strong national climate change legislation.

Dr. Richard Moss, vice president for climate change at WWF, said the report highlights significant opportunities for the U.S. to reduce its emissions by focusing on energy efficiency and R&D funding. "It's still not too late for the current administration to take meaningful action on climate change," he said. "These are areas where the administration itself has indicated a need for faster progress."