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September 11th, 2009
House OKs $1B for Wind Tech Development & Demos: What’s In It for Innovators?
Wind power innovators are poised to get a $1 billion boost from Washington — that is, if the Senate goes along with the House in approving the Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2009. The bill, which cleared the House late Wednesday in a voice vote, would authorize $200 million a year for five years starting in 2010 for a grant program out of the Department of Energy for wind research and demo projects. If enacted, this would roughly quadruple the DOE wind program's annual budget (not counting $118 million in one-time stimulus funds), and go a long way toward the level of federal funding the wind industry says it requires in order to supply 20 percent of U.S. energy needs by 2030.
The funding could be a boon for a group of innovators that often fly under the radar when it comes to discussions of wind technology: nanotech developers. As the San Francisco Chronicle writes, Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), who sponsored the bill (and previously served as president and CEO of New York State's energy R&D authority), expects the program to "leverage nanoscience research by businesses and research institutions that are working at the molecular level to create lighter and more durable materials."
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