On March 14, 2014, President Obama's complete Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Congressional Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was publicly released. The request includes $253.2 million for the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) to continue its work catalyzing the development of a domestic capability to produce price-competitive, renewable fuels from non-food biomass resources (see BETO's Multi-Year Program Plan). BETO’s funding represents 11% of the $2.3 billion requested for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and 0.9% of the $27.9 billion requested for DOE.
 
FY 2015 budget requests for DOE, EERE, and BETO

DOE's budget request aligns with the President's all-of-the-above energy strategy to keep the United States at the forefront of science and technology innovation to establish a secure and clean energy system that mitigates the impact of climate change. The request significantly focuses on following the President's Climate Action Plan, which aims to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.

As outlined in Volume 3 of the Budget Justification and in Bioenergy Technologies Office FY 2015 Budget at-a-Glance, BETO's FY 2015 budget request supports the following investments:

  • Demonstration and Development ($105 million): The FY 2015 budget puts greater emphasis on demonstration and deployment than FY 2014 and FY 2013 budgets in order to initiate new pilot- and demonstration-scale projects. In July 2013, a Florida integrated biorefinery developed by INEOS Bio and partially funded by BETO began producing the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol in U.S. history. In 2014, two other commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefineries are expected to complete construction: POET's Liberty facility near Emmetsburg, Iowa, and Abengoa's biorefinery near Hugoton, Kansas. These two facilities are expected to have an ethanol production capacity of more than 50 million gallons per year. BETO will also continue support for military-specification jet fuel in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Agriculture through the Defense Production Act.

  • Conversion Technologies ($100.5 million): In FY 2013 and FY 2014, BETO met technical research targets for the thermochemical conversion pathway—reaching a minimum fuel selling price of $5.6 gasoline gallon equivalent for a gasoline and diesel blendstock. In FY 2015, BETO will continue to develop conversion pathways to work toward the biofuel cost target of $3 per gasoline gallon equivalent. In FY 2015, at least two conversion pathways will be selected for validation at integrated bench and pilot scales in FY 2017. BETO will also issue funding opportunity announcements for consortia to further integrate bio-oils into petroleum refineries, to develop biological and chemical catalysts and clean sugar production, and to resolve issues with gasification and gas to liquids identified in FY 2014 workshops. Incubator and carbon fiber activities will also continue.

  • Feedstocks & Algae ($30.5 million): The budget request for feedstocks includes feedstock production and logistics ($16.5 million) and algae research and development ($14 million).   
     
    Feedstock production and logistics—In FY 2013, BETO's five high-tonnage feedstock logistics projects demonstrated significant cost reduction for feedstock utilization, including a $13 per ton cost reduction for baled corn stover. An FY 2015 priority is to develop strategies, technologies, and systems that can sustainably provide feedstock to a conversion reactor for a total cost of no more than $80 per dry ton by FY 2017. BETO efforts will also focus on integrating environmental sustainability and quality criteria into biomass supply assessments for crop residues, energy crops, and forest resources, as well as down-selecting feedstock blend formulation for the thermochemical oils pathway based on ash and moisture content, carbon levels, and other characteristics.    

    Algae research and development—BETO's FY 2022 algae productivity target is to reach 5,200 gallons of biofuel intermediate per acre of algae cultivation per year. FY 2015 priorities are to lay the foundation to reach this target by pursuing research that leverages capabilities at algae testbed facilities. BETO will increase efforts in quantitative analysis to mitigate the risk of technology options; the Office will also develop a more targeted approach to overcome barrier areas identified through techno-economic analysis and stage-gate reviews.

    The decrease in funding for feedstocks (compared to $47 million in FY 2014) is due to greater reliance on feedstock production research activities at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as fully funding competitive feedstock logistics projects in FY 2013 and FY 2014. 

  • Strategic Analysis and Cross-Cutting Sustainability ($11 million): There is a minor decrease in this funding area from FY 2014 and results from fully funding analysis projects in FY 2013 and FY 2014. Goals for strategic analysis and cross-cutting sustainability in FY 2015 are to coordinate with logistics and conversion research and development areas to set targets for minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutants, and consumptive water use for at least three renewable hydrocarbon pathways by FY 2016. Analyses addressing critical industry, market, and policy questions will inform program planning. The first annual bioenergy market report will be published in FY 2015.

  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Site-Wide Facility Support ($6.2 million): NREL funding is allocated across program offices in EERE. Increased funds for FY 2015 are a result of changes in methodology used to allocate site-wide facility funding. NREL is DOE's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development.