advantages, renewable energy processes must overcome substantial economic and other barriers to commercialization. Renewable energy technologies, which are in various stages of development, are the main focus of the U.S. Department of Energy' s (DOE's) Office of Power Technologies (OPT), and the focus of this report.
In response to a request from OPT for an independent review of its programs, the National Research Council formed the Committee for the Programmatic Review of the Office of Power Technologies (see Appendix A for biographical information). A Statement of Task was developed in consultation with OPT and its parent office, the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), to conduct a programmatic review of OPT and recommend ways to strengthen the office and its programs.
The EERE is responsible for developing cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that will protect the environment and support the nation's economic competitiveness. This goal is carried forward partly by OPT's programs to improve the cost and performance of renewable energy technologies. Working with industry through cost-shared technology development partnerships, OPT's research and development (R&D) is focused on solar-photovoltaic and solar-thermal power, biomass power, wind power, geothermal power, and hydroelectric power. OPT is also conducting R&D on advanced transmission and distribution technologies, energy storage, and hydrogen and is considering how renewable energy technologies can be used for the distributed generation of electric power. OPT's programs vary in size: the photovoltaics program has a budget of about $60 million per year; the hydroelectric power program and others have budgets of only a few million dollars per year. Both federal and private sector involvements will be crucial to the successful deployment of the developed technologies. DOE's goal is to facilitate deployment by using market mechanisms and by building partnerships with industry groups and state governments.
The committee's Statement of Task is reprinted below:
The National Research Council committee appointed to conduct this study will undertake a broad programmatic review of the OPT program. The review will be conducted in the context of the broader energy economy and in light of opportunities to leverage and coordinate activities among the eight programs within OPT as well as with energy R&D programs outside OPT. The review will address the eight programs in OPT: wind,