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ARPA-E 2017: Optimism Turns to Tension as Sector Prepares to Protect Energy R&D Funding
by Krysti Shallenberger (Utility Dive) ... At stake is funding for the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy, more commonly known as ARPA-E. Created in 2007 as a technology incubator under the purview of the Department of Energy, ARPA-E’s mission is to drive innovation in energy technologies too risky or innovative for the private sector.
In January, a leaked budget proposal from the White House targeted DOE for massive spending reductions, including the elimination of divisions focused on electricity, efficiency and renewables, and fossil fuel research.
For ARPA-E and other DOE offices, it's now a fight to prove their worth to the Trump administration
. Eric Rohlfng, the acting director of ARPA-E, hopes to convince Congress and the White House to keep the agency afloat.
While differences emerged over the exact role of federal investments, lawmakers and researchers largely agreed that government money is essential in getting risky energy projects commercialized.
“It’s about making the connection that support for basic science or applied science is not a luxury we can afford when we’re rich,” said Rafael Reif, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s an investment in our future. If we stop supporting basic science, it will stop innovation.”
Attendees standing in their booths and displays at the Summit were reluctant to comment about the impact of Trump’s budget cuts on the agency that moved their idea closer to reality. But their projects are the lucky ones — they already have the money in hand to continue persevering in the highly competitive space. It’s the entrepreneurs and researchers searching for funding next year that will be hit hard by any budget constraints. READ MORE