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The Department of Energy primarily relies on contractors to carry out its diverse missions, which range from energy development and scientific research to nuclear security. DOE's contract and project management is a topic on our High Risk List.
This Spotlight examines evolving solar cell technology. Most electricity-generating solar cells are made with crystalline silicon in a process that is complex, expensive, and energy-intensive. Alternative materials may perform better and be easier and cheaper to make.
Research and development has been essential in the Department of Energy's efforts to clean up significant contamination from decades of nuclear weapons production, but over time DOE has reduced funding designated for cleanup R&D.
The National Nuclear Security Administration in the Department of Energy is responsible for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. NNSA relies on 7 contractors to manage and operate its 8 lab and production sites.
Dangerous radioactive material is used in many medical and industrial applications. But, if it ends up in the wrong hands, it could be used in a dirty bomb.
Replacing technologies that use radioactive materials with safer alternatives can protect people and reduce potential financial costs.
There are about 86,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors stored at 75 U.S. sites. This amount continues to grow. Policymakers have been at an impasse over what to do with the spent fuel since the licensing of the Yucca Mountain repository stopped in 2010.
The nation's grid delivers electricity that is essential for our modern life.
However, risks such as extreme weather, cyberattacks, and electromagnetic events like solar storms can damage our electrical infrastructure (like power lines) and communications systems.