US president George W Bush delivered his state of the Union address on 31 January in which he announced plans to boost investment in both nuclear and clean coal generation, while reducing oil imports from the Middle East.

As part of the plans, Bush outlined the Advanced Energy Initiative which provides for a 22% increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy (DoE) to accelerate research in clean coal technologies, and increase funding for “clean and safe nuclear energy” as well as renewables to reduce overall demand for natural gas and lead to lower energy costs. In a series of initiatives announced in the address the President’s 2007 Budget includes $281 million for development of clean coal technologies and a further $54 Million For The FutureGen Initiative, a partnership between government and the private sector to develop innovative technologies for an emissions-free coal plant that includes carbon capture and storage.

In addition, the 2007 Budget proposes a new $148 million Solar America Initiative, an increase of $65 million over last year, in a bid to accelerate the development of semiconductor materials for PV and $44 million for wind energy research, a $5 million increase over 2006.

Bush said: “Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology.”

The President then set a national goal of replacing more than 75% of oil imports from the Middle East by 2025 and declared a number of further initiatives aimed at reducing energy consumption.