And because they involve wind, sun and geothermal, it's almost as if the god of thunder, also known as The Mighty Thor, son of Odin, played a role. The connection, I admit, is a little obscure, but Marvel just ran the first of the ads for its live-action movie on the wielder of the mystic Mjolnir during the Super Bowl.
The genesis of all this hubbub is the President's goal of generating 80 percent of the nation's electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.
The U.S. Department of Energy wants to bring solar prices down to about 6 cents per kilowatt-hour with its "SunShot" initiative. It has a long way to go. Solarbuzz.com reports that the high solar condition industrial industry index is 16.59 cents per kWh.
DOE's plan is to help reduce the cost for utility-scale installations by about 75 percent to about $1 a watt.
I can hear Thor say, "By the bristling beard of Odin," right about now. (Although I'm a closet comic buff, I got the phrase from Jared at blogintomystery.com.)
"America is in a world race to produce cost-effective, quality photovoltaics," said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, in a statement. "These efforts will boost our economic competitiveness, rebuild our manufacturing industry and help reach the President's goal of doubling our clean energy in the next 25 years."
U.S. outlay: $27 million for "projects to support the development, commercialization, and manufacturing of advanced solar energy technologies."
Offshore wind received the coordinated might of the U.S. Department of Interior and DOE to "support offshore wind energy deployment and several high priority wind energy areas in the mid-Atlantic that will spur rapid, responsible development of this abundant renewable resource."
Wind remains a big departure from the old-style turn-it-on-and-let-it-run practices of years past in electricity production. Wind turbines are getting bigger and have to be in often remote areas where the wind blows, generating sporadic energy. Transmission lines have to be upgraded or new ones built. And back-ups into the existing grid have to be built to accommodate power spikes as more wind power comes on line.
In the Boulder, Colo.-based Pike Research report "Electricity Transmission Infrastructure," out last year, officials wrote: "In order to reap the full benefits of renewable energy and smart grid technologies, the capacity and information-carrying ability of transmission systems must be increased substantially."
No easy task.
So Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Energy Secretary Chu announced what they dubbed "major steps forward."
"This initiative will spur the type of innovation that will help us create new jobs, build a clean energy future, and compete and win in the technologies of the 21st century," Salazar said.
He also said the government is working to synchronize research and development initiatives with "more efficient, forward-thinking planning."
U.S. commitment: up to $50.5 million in project funding.
The final naturally occurring energy targeted (at least in this round) is geothermal.
The DOE wants to test the reliability and efficiency of geothermal power generation at oil and gas fields to determine the low-temperature technologies. Work will be done at the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center near Casper, Wyo. to reduce costs.
DOE's Geothermal Technologies Program is currently paying for 17 projects with a capacity of 3 gigawatts, or enough to power 2.4 million homes by 2020, officials say.
One of the sites, Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 3 near Midwest, Wyo., produces oil and 45,000 barrels of 190-degree water per day from one formation and 28,000 barrels of 210-degree water per day from another. Initially discarded, heat is now extracted from the water and used to operate a 250-kilowatt generator.
Obama said we're going to have to go after and develop cost-efficient ways of extracting energy from all forms of alternative energy. And this pushes the needle forward.
I'd add that we'll have to do it more efficiently and with better regulation. And as my friend in the Texas oil patch says, "Don't forget oil." We will need the stuff and the assistance of the energy companies that produce it to improve our air and national security through domestic ingenuity.
And as for Thor? He'd be all for it. Just be careful of his brother the Evil Loki.
Photo: Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 3 waste water discharge courtesy montaraventures.com.