President Barack Obama yesterday put forward a budget that would see a 40% increase in clean energy funding, despite sweeping spending cuts due to the sequester.

Overall, Obama's fiscal year budget 2014 provides $28.4 billion in discretionary funds for the Department of Energy, an 8% increase from 2012. It also increases funding for the DoE's clean energy technology activities by over 40% above the 2012 level.

Daniel Poneman, the US deputy secretary of energy, said: “The United States faces one of the greatest challenges ahead, the opportunity to lead the global clean energy race. We must continue to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world to meet this challenge.

“This budget reflects strong commitments to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice, while embracing the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy which expands both oil and gas production and investments in new clean energy technologies, while advancing our national security.”

The budget also provides:

• $615 million to increase the use and decrease the costs of clean power from solar, wind, geothermal, and water energy, said the DoE.

• $365 million invested in advanced manufacturing R&D. It will increase funding by 29% to makerenewable power, such as solar and off-shore wind, more easily integrated onto the electric grid and as affordable as electricity from conventional sources, without subsidies.

• $2.8 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) to accelerate research and development, to build on ongoing successes, and to further reduce the costs and increase the use of critical clean energy technologies.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), welcomed the budget.

“We praise the president for emphasizing that a transition to sustainable energy sources is vital – and that the U.S. must lead it. Solar is the fastest-growing clean energy technology available today. It is not only powering our nation, it is an engine of economic growth.

“Since 2008, the amount of solar powering U.S. homes, businesses and military bases has grown by more than 600 percent—from 1,100MW to more than 7,700MW today. Over the next four years, solar will grow to be our nation’s largest new source of energy. "

Resch also urged the US president and Congress to maintain the Investment Tax Credit and streamline federal solar permitting processes.