President Obama's 2011 State of the Union address declared this "our generation's Sputnik moment" before going on to set a goal for the nation to derive 80 percent of its electricity from clean energy by 2035. In February, Obama submitted a 2012 spending request for the Department of Energy (DOE) that increased spending on renewable energy--including solar, biomass and geothermal projects--while cutting fossil energy programs.
Despite White House support, the renewable energy industry still faces challenges. Financing is scarce, a result of the still-recovering markets, the relatively low recent prices of traditional fossil fuels and the lack of a price on carbon emissions. Meanwhile, the DOE budget proposal faces political attacks.
From Section 1603's enactment in February 2009 until February 2011, grants totaling around $6 billion have been awarded to 1,878 projects (mainly wind and solar).