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House passes solar fuel, energy storage innovation bills

TheU.S. House of Representatives late July 11 passed two aimed at spurring federally fundedresearch into electric power storage and producing energy fuels from sunlight.

TheHouse passed H.R. 5638, or the Solar Fuels Innovation Act, by a voice vote. Thelegislation authorizes the U.S. Department of Energy to carry out a $100million basic research program on the development of solar fuel systems, whichrely on artificial photosynthesis and photosynthesis replication to producefuel from the sun. The bill also includes early stage translational research onsolar fuels.

"Basicresearch in artificial photosynthesis and related research could lead to asolar fuels system that consolidates solar power and energy storage into acohesive process and fundamentally change the way we extract energy from ournatural resources," said Rep. Stephen Knight, R-Calif., who introducedH.R. 5638.

H.R.5640, or the Electricity Storage Innovation Act, also was passed by a voicevote. That bill would direct the DOE to conduct a $100 million basic researchinitiative on the chemistry and material sciences necessary for advancedelectricity storage.

"Electricitystorage is one of the next frontiers in our energy future. Innovations leadingto advanced, next generation batteries could help bring affordable electricityand renewable energy to the market without costly subsidies or mandates,"said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who introduced the bill and is chairman of theHouse Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Smith said he hoped to workwith his colleagues in the U.S. Senate to send the bill to the president'sdesk, but no one from the committee was immediately available for comment onwhen the legislation could receive full Senate consideration.

Programsunder both H.R. 5638 and H.R. 5640 would use existing funds in the DOE's Officeof Science and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.