In his annual State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush introduced his plan for lessening America’s reliance on foreign oil and developing cleaner domestic energy sources. His solution, the Advanced Energy Initiative, calls for a 22 percent increase in clean energy research at the U.S. Department of Energy. The Initiative focuses on two key areas in need of further development.

The first area addressed by the President was changing how citizens power their homes and offices. To achieve this goal, funds will be directed to researching alternative energy sources such as clean coal technology, clean and safe nuclear energy, and solar and wind energy technology.

Bush next addressed the issue of how the majority of Americans power their cars, a hot topic that has increasingly become imperative as gasoline and oil prices remain high. Included in the Advanced Energy Initiative is the Biorefinery Initiative, which directs $150 million toward developing the production of cellulosic ethanol. Made from agricultural waste such as wood chips, stalks, and switch grass, it is hoped that more research into cellulosic ethanol will make it a practical and cost-competitive alternative fuel within six years.

Presidents Initiative, Wood chips

Inexpensive and abundant agricultural waste resources, such as wood chips, should make cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive in the near future. Credit: DOE, NREL, Warren Gretz

Another alternative energy source supported by the President is hydrogen. In his 2003 State of the Union Address, Bush introduced the $1.2 billion Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. Seeking to enhance technology for hydrogen fuel cells, the goal is to develop this resource so that affordable hydrogen-powered cars are practical and cost effective by 2020. President Bush announced in his 2006 speech that $289 million will be allocated for hydrogen fuel cell research in the 2007 budget. According to the White House, the cost of a hydrogen fuel cell has already been cut by more than 50 percent in four years thanks to the 2003 Hydrogen Fuel Initiative.

Presidents Initiative hydrogen fuel cell bus

The Hydrogen Fuel Initiative will help put more hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles, such as this bus, on America’s roads. Credit: DOE, NREL, Leslie Eudy

Hybrid vehicle technology was a third area addressed in the Advanced Energy Initiative. To develop more efficient hybrid vehicles, the President called for continued research into battery technology for hybrids and plug-in hybrids. His 2007 budget will award $30 million to accelerate the development of hybrid battery technology.

In addition to changing how citizens power their homes, offices, and cars, Bush cited the goal of replacing more than 75 percent of oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. “By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past,” he said.

With an estimated 250 million vehicles on U.S. highways and the possibility of Americans purchasing approximately 17 million vehicles this year, the White House projects that it will take about fifteen years for the country’s automobiles to switch over to more fuel-efficient technology.

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