July 15, 2016
Capitol Update

In this issue:


TheEnergy Information Administration’s (EIA) 2016 conference, held this week in Washington, D.C., featured previews from the statistical inform ation agency’s upcoming updates to its 2016 International Energy Outlook, due for release in September 2016.

According to EIA’s experts, the outlook for energy use worldwide continues to show rising levels of demand over the next three decades, led by strong increases in countries outside of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), particularly in Asia. Non-OECD Asia, including China and India, account for more than half of the world’s total increase in energy consumption over the 2012 to 2040 projection period. By 2040, energy use in non-OECD Asia exceeds that of the entire OECD by 40 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu).

EIA’s projections also show that total world energy consumption rises from 549 quadrillion Btu in 2012 to 815 quadrillion Btu in 2040, an increase of 48%. Most of the world's energy growth will occur in the non-OECD nations, where relatively strong, long-term economic growth drives increasing demand for energy. Non-OECD energy consumption increases by 71% between 2012 and 2040 compared with an increase of 18% in OECD nations. By 2040, almost two-thirds of the world’s primary energy will be consumed in the non-OECD economies.

While the agency predicts strong growth for renewables, projections for a continued oversupply of natural gas through 2022 place natural gas electric power generation on a strong growth path. Natural gas is the fastest-growing fossil fuel in the outlook, with global natural gas consumption increasing by 1.9% per year and prices remaining low through 2040. Abundant natural gas resources and robust production—including rising supplies of tight gas, shale gas, and coalbed methane—contribute to the strong competitive position of natural gas.

For more information on the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook projections, visit: http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/



As part of the Administration’s planned investments in critical infrastructure, U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall recently announced new funding to strengthen and protect the nation’s electric grid from cyber and physical attacks. The Department of Energy (DOE) will provide up to $15 million, subject to congressional appropriations, to support efforts by the American Public Power Association (APPA) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to further enhance the culture of security within their utility members’ organizations.

Over the next three years, DOE funding will be used by APPA and NRECA to develop security tools, educational resources, updated guidelines, and training on common strategies that can be used by their member organizations to cultivate an improved cyber and physical security culture. Activities to bolster their members’ security capabilities will include exercises, utility site assessments, and a comprehensive range of information sharing with their members. Approximately 26 percent of the nation’s electricity customers are served by municipal public power providers and rural electric cooperatives.

The DOE has a long history of working closely with federal and private partners, including the Department of Homeland Security on critical energy infrastructure cybersecurity. All of DOE’s cybersecurity efforts align with the September 2011 release of the Roadmap to Achieve Energy Delivery Systems Cybersecurity, which was developed by industry and facilitated by the Energy Department. For the past seven years, through the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability’s Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems (CEDS) program, the Department has invested more than $210 million in collaborative cybersecurity research and development projects among industry, universities, and our national labs. The recent announcement is another important piece of DOE’s overall commitment to cybersecurity research, engagement with energy sector stakeholders, and the drive toward an end goal of practical use.

For more information about DOE’s Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability programs, visit: http://www.energy.gov/oe/office-electricity-delivery-and-energy-reliability


The National Academies has released a new report entitled Optimizing the Nation's Investment in Academic Research, which reviews the regulatory framework within which U.S. research universities operate. The report considers specific regulations that have placed burdens on the research enterprise and assesses the process by which these regulations are created, reviewed, and retired.

According to the Academies, the report is critical to “strengthen the partnership between the federal government and research institutions, to maximize the creation of new knowledge and products, to provide for the effective training and education of the next generation of scholars and workers, and to optimize the return on the federal investment in research for the benefit of the American people.”

The report found that most federal regulatory policies are efforts to address important issues of accountability and performance associated with scientific integrity, the stewardship of federal funds, and the well-being of the people and animals involved in research. But these well-intended efforts often result in unintended consequences that needlessly encumber the nation’s investment in research. The authors found that many regulations fail to recognize the significant diversity of academic research institutions (e.g., in geographic location, public or private, size, legal structure, missions, financial and physical resources, and research capability), which translates into widely varying capabilities to respond to increasing and overlapping research regulations.

A full copy of the report is available at:


The Obama Administration recently released a statement strongly opposing the House’s version of the 2017 the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2017. The bill funds agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI), making it a key target for amendments and other policy riders addressing controversial energy and environmental issues.

In the Statement of Administration Policy, the Administration argued that the bill, H.R. 5538, underfunds core DOI and EPA programming in all but a few areas, with water infrastructure finance and drinking water programs standing out as one of the only areas of growth in the bill.

The Administration also took issue with regulatory and administrative authority reforms in the bill, including adjustment’s to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) authority to oversee onshore fossil energy production on public lands. Section 122 of the bill would prohibit the BLM from regulating flaring, venting, and leaks of methane from federal onshore oil and gas operations.

To read the full SAP on H.R. 5538, visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/114/saphr5538r_20160711.pdf


Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory have published a new study on perovskite solar cell degradation and a potential breakthrough on the effort to resolve photo-degradation in perovskite solar cells. Most commercially available solar panels convert sunlight to electricity using silicon crystal chemistry, but future solar panels might rely on perovskite, a promising material that has the potential to make panels cheaper, simpler, and more efficient.

The new study has found both the cause and a solution for the degradation of perovskite cells when exposed to sunlight, a research breakthrough potentially removing one roadblock to commercialization for this technology. In a key finding, researchers found those degraded devices exhibit self-healing powers when given a time in the dark.

The team determined that photo-degradation in perovskite cells is a purely electronic process. An electric charge accumulates in the photovoltaic solar cell, but doesn’t cause chemical damage to the crystal structure. Researchers found that by allowing the perovskite cells time in the dark, with cooler temperatures for their self-healing powers to work, degradation of the devices was substantially suppressed.

For more information on the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s work on solar energy, visit: http://www.lanl.gov/discover/news-release-archive/2016/May/05.17-perovskite-solar-power.php

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